When you're far from home, on the top of a Welsh mountain, in the rain, with a nagging hunger, a ride that finishes at a tent is not the most appealing prospect.
When I planned the North Wales #roundandabout rides, it was a great chance to catch up with a friend and coaching client from the good old days, who happened to run a cycling specific guest house.
Sian Roberts and her partner Dafydd, are not only mountain endurance monsters and legends of UK mountain biking and fell running, they know what tired bodies need to ensure the following day in the mountains is another good one.
When I rolled up to the Old Skool in Bronaber after a crappy/faffy day of a half-ride and too much time driving, there was warmth and energy that provided instant relief and I knew tomorrow would be a better day. I'd coached Sian for many years when she rode the MTB world cup circuit and it was great to catch up on the missing years and discuss vans, castles and fatigue! The Old Skool was converted to an exceptionally high standard, mostly by Sian and Dafydd themselves, over three years, and is a perfect place to base body and bikes. It immediately feels like the home you wish you lived in. Great food, heat, bike wash and storage, loads of hot water and comfy beds, and Racsyn the dog. It's worth staying there just to hang out with Racsyn and witness 'the bell trick'.
The Old Skool is perfectly located to reach the best bits of all the best and most challenging bits that the North Wales mountains have to offer. Set in the hills between Blaenau Ffestiniog Dolgellau a quick glance out of most of the windows will give you a decent mountain weather forecast, and a couple of miles on minor roads takes you into the Coed y Brenin trails. Sian and Dafydd take weekend bookings from groups, couples and individuals, offering catered or use of a well equipped kitchen - with pubs just down the road*.
The day after my arrival, I rode for 4 hrs on and off-road with Dafydd on superb trails and mountain roads made less gruesome by knowing I'd have a place of sanctuary that night. Camping in winter can do one.
I need to come up with a reason to go back. Soon.
*Just down the road in rural Welsh terms, 10 mins drive for the rest of us.