I didn't manage a run on Friday morning – I was frankly too tired and needed to get packed for when my lift came to pick me up to take me off to Wales for the weekend. As it turns out – that was probably a good thing as I ended up driving as we couldn't get all the bikes on his car – so had to resort to mine and the roof bars.
Saturday morning came after the obligatory few ales on Friday night as we waited for all the other riders to turn up – and after a hearty breakfast provided by our very friendly and incredibly reasonable B&B – we set off for the trails.
First on the list on Saturday was “Llwybr y Temtiwr” or ‘Temtiwr’ Trail – a red or difficult run with a low distance of 8.7km. This was our warm up trail and the start was amazing – a section of rock riding that had you out of your saddle, the core muscles working, lungs panting and frankly the shock was something that stayed with you for quite a while and set the tone of the weekend – this was technical hardcore riding – and none of us were really ready for what it had to deliver – but we were smiling nearly all weekend!
After the frankly mind blowing start you come to “Dream Time” – an area of forest singletrack that is undulating with bern turns at the end allowing fast flowing and grin inducing speed to be carried through the turns. This was the bit of single-track that most of the guys wanted to revisit the next day – but there was more to come….
The rest of the ride was pretty good – some fairly hard climbs (220m climbing in all) produced an epic downhill – hitting over 40kmph at one point and back to the cafe for some tea and cheese toasties. Great warm up.
After lunch we decided to do The Tarw Trail. This was another red – but 20km long instead and involved 500m of climbing in total – over a 3 hour period. This didn't start to well – as I did my now fast becoming custom falling off in the car park prior to actually getting on the trail! It was my only fall of the weekend – and it looked pretty innocuous – but I thought for a few minutes it had put paid to my weekend. I banged my right shin and put a triangular hole in it and banged my knee – which as I write is twice as big as the left one! A good effort – and I thought it was going to seize up – so decided to go for the ride anyway – and so off we went. The long climb up from the start was a killer – and my knee was complaining all the way – amazingly I got to the top and we hit an area called the Heart of Darkness! Right – it says it all. Didn't enjoy that bit – too many tree roots – but we quickly left that for “Snap”, “Crakle” and “Pop”. Wow – these were great – really fast descents on fast rocky terrain which you just had to fly over. Real adrenaline riding which pitched the heart rate up and down like a yo-yo – and this was the theme of this ride.
Another major ascent up some fire-track and we hit the next descent - “Rocky Horror Show” – oddly names as it isn't rocky – but is a swooping madly fast single-track decent which for me was the best of the day easily. I just forgot about my breaks and held on for dear life and somehow emerged at the bottom intact (unlike another rider found earlier by some of our group with a broken collar bone!)
The rest of the ride was pretty good too – with more technical single-track and a few more climbs. And it all finished with a fairly technical section ending up on the fire road climb back up to the centre and a cup of tea before heading back to the B&B for a very hot shower and then a steak down and the Hotel in town. A few beers to wash that down and I was asleep just about as soon as my head hit the pillow that evening.
Sunday brought bright sunshine and some very sore backsides back onto the hill and we split the groups – some going to ride the Beast – a fairly epic ride – while those human members of the group went on to ride a bit of a mix and match between the first of Saturdays and some of the Dragon’s back trail as well.
The guys wanted to ride Dream Time again – and I must admit – with the dappled sunlight playing through the trees – it was something not to be missed. Great little ride – but better was to come. A fairly long trudge up a fire trail (and a long wait for Chris to realise he had gone the wrong way and turn back round to us) and we descended into the trees along a single-track route that was brilliant. Suddenly the trees were gone but the track carried on until it hit a sharp left turn on rocks again ascending. Great riding and I thought it couldn't get much better – but then we joined the Dragon’s Back and found “Gomez”, “Morticia”, “Pugsley”, “Lurch” and “Uncle Fester”. This was switch back descending fast rolling in your face adrenaline single-track of the highest degree and probably the best of the weekend. My heart was pumping like mad, and it was so fast and non stop that I just couldn't believe it was carrying on. Amazing ride – and after that I just couldn't see it being bettered – so I headed for tea and burgers and the cafe and then the long drive home. What and amazing experience – great trails – great company and great scenery. I really do love Wales.
Thanks go to all the lads who came and to Chris for organising the B&B – top quality weekend. Who’s up for another one?