Thursday, 10 May 2012


Written by Tom:
The riding group was dwindled to just four of us. myself, Pete, Jim and James. On the way to Coed-y-Brenin, the weather went from bad to worse, the rain became heavy and a thick fog descended on the mountains.   After parking we went to the visitor centre to use the facilities which consisted of a large cafe, toilets and a small bike shop. I visited the bike shop downstairs to buy a waterproof jacket as the weather was so poor. I eventually went for an Endura coat, which was significantly cheaper then the other jackets but it proved to be very good, keeping me dry all day.
The GoPro's were fired up once the bikes were assembled and we rolled to the start of the trails next to the bike centre. It was decided among the group that 2 smaller trails would be tackled, Temtiwr and  Cyflym Coch. These red trails were selected as they provided the flexibility to run away if the weather worsened and they suited the capabilities of the group as a whole. The trail started further downhill from the centre and set the theme for the day, which was wet rocks, streams, loose surfaces and big puddles. The trail continued to climb, followed by long sections of swooping track that ran through woodlands and over the the odd stream/waterfall. The small waterfall did claim a couple of near misses, when I passed through it the first time, my front tyre washed out and I unintentionally got off the bike in a partially controlled manner, but I'm not counting it as a fall...( I do - Ed)

After reaching the end of Cyflym Coch, we decided to do a loop of it again, as everyone enjoyed the first round and we figured that we could tie in the end of the second loop with the beginning of the other trail which would lead us back to the start. The second time around it was more of the same, however this time I managed to conquer the waterfall and Pete decided to have a sudden, unplanned sit down on a gorse bush halfway up a climb (this was caught on camera). The trail as a whole provided decent fast flowing sections, with a few scattered rocks from which those who wanted to could probably get some small amounts of air. I found that the weather was an influencing factor for me, especially as the wet rocks were something I wasn't confident with, causing me to perhaps hold back a bit more than I should have.
We eventually looped back around to where we had started from, stopping for a minute on the bridge to admire the view of the waterfall and river flowing below us, the current raging from the recent and consistent rainfall.

 The second trail, Temtiwr, provided some long and arduous climbs, with lactic burning being felt by everyone in the group. This climb was followed by a number of shorter descents which lead us closer to the visitors centre. One descent in particular sticks out because of its misleading name, "Glide" gave illusions of
smooth graceful descending tracks, maybe with some berms and mounds thrown in. It couldn't have been further from the truth. It composed of  rocky, rooty drop off's and a series of short slippery steps over small streams. To call a section of technical trail "Glide" was as misleading as saying that the Pamplona bull run is just a casual stroll with some cows. If that's your kind of trail then fair enough. Anyway, we returned to the car park soaked (some more than others) and proceeded to disassemble the bikes and fling them in the car, as it continued to pour with rain.
The general consensus was that it was a good day despite the weather, and a return to Coed-y-Brenin is inevitable, due the amount of trails still left to attempt, this was followed by a rather bold statement from James who claims that he wishes to tackle "The Beast". (And the other 2 black trails MBR and Tarw - Ed)

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Coed Llandegla

Starts as a nice wide track winding slowly uphill, we started off steady except Andy R, who sped off in to the distance. We meet up again at the skill park where I steadily roll into a small loop of little berms before climbing back to the start and spotted the small pump/jump track.
We all have a few runs on the little jumps, gaining confidence in our abilities, and I start clearing them to the landings, getting faster onto the next. Tom was also hitting the smaller jumps along with Andy R, and I think they both were on form.
The picture shows both runs the smaller nicer jumps on the right with Andy R riding, picture taken by Pete. Thanks Pete.

Myself and Tom then went for a ride along the boardwalk sections each taking a different line. The left Tom, the right me, my line was interesting, winding and getting ever narrower until a line choice, a 10m skinny or a wider boarwalk section around. I chickened out of the skinny not wanting to break something this early into the ride. Both lines meet back up and go into some tight banked corners which had me twitching like a rabbits nose.

We then left the skills area and rejoined the trail, with Will, Jim and Andy taking off again. This was still smooth wide trail slowly climbing and winding along. We were overtaken by a man riding a rigid cyclo-cross bike who disappeared out of sight even with me trying to keep up. The tail group of me, tom and pete slowly gained some distance on the others and before long were ahead before resting at the collection of wooden grouse or turkeys?

The trail then went UP, a long laborious climb that was dull and not very interesting except for the forestry machinery working either side of the trail, cutting and transporting the logs.

As you can see the weather was once again with us, blue skies and hot sun. The trail however was wet, with large puddles everywhere and the sides of the trail a slippery mush of pine needles and clay, which was proven later on.

The top of this climb brought the first decent, aptly called rollercoaster, huge berms and little jumps. This then climbed again for a small section before forking off to a black or red. We headed down the black, involving 6ft jumps and massive puddles at the base of the take-off (not ideal). The trail then doubled back on itself and dropped down on to some what can only be described as horrendous rocky trail that almost shook my brain and bike to pieces. Will had an indecent incident with his saddle and his Cox-six at this point which rendered him temporarily immobile with expletives and pain.

Zig-zaging our way down the hillside with sections of board-walk and nice big berms and little jumps with puddles we made our way to the first black. Myself and Tom were practising and imagining the camera footage we could get on the next ride.

The next black section split away again with myself, Tom and Andy taking this route and the others taking the red route down, with the parting words see you at the bottom. Little did we know the black route was and extra 2 miles. The black started gentle before launching us into some big air jumps and berms.

We found a sign for Dirt Jump area and decided to go for it, I headed in first catching my big ring on the rocky step down into the area. "I don't think any damage was done, I need to check tomorrow." The first few jumps were small warm-ups for what was about to become the ride of my life.

The next set consisted of tabletops, lipped tabletops and step up jumps. All with approximately 2m tops, the first few I took steady getting into the swing and gaining speed before finally catching my first cleared tabletop landing it smoothly on the downward landing, then up off the next lip to clear the step up jump. I was so happy at this point my lower leg was shaking with the adrenaline rush.

A rocky step down section followed by yet more jumps and we finally exited the area on to a fire road. A short ride up the next back section "drop-shore". There is a video of other people riding it here

Thankfully none of us ended it like that!

The black run continued into some tighter woody runs with the wet side to the trails. I was following Tom down this section, all was going well until a small jump unbalanced Tom and he wandered off the trail into the slippery mush I wrote about earlier. The front wheel washed out under braking into a tree (these things seemed to have a magnetic attraction to Tom today) So with Toms bike washing out from underneath him, and stylishly ending this manoeuvre in a sort of penguin slide on his chest to a standstill in the middle of the trail. I was a second or two behind him seeing this all unfold in front of me i braked hard the back wheel locking up I squeezed the front harder, trying to avoid a repeat of Myself and Andy A's accident last year in Afan. I couldn't get my weight back quick enough before the bike upended itself and dumping the rider (me) into a belly flop with Tom as my crash mat.

We both stand up shouting at Andy to slow down as there were bikes and bodies on the trail, and begin the steady job of checking over the bikes for damage before turning our eyes to our wounds. A few grazes and a severe winding to Tom were the only injuries.

A quick phone call to the other members and some confusion over post numbers, our map had up to 100, but they said they were at post number 246. We assumed they were almost back and said we would meet them at the cars. We carried on along as we rejoined the red, before myself and tom split off form Andy who carried on the red to the cars. More Jumps YEY. and then a slogging climb back to the beginning of the split and we continued along the red.

The next black called B-Line we consumed some energy gels before dropping in, onto some northshore which twisted and turned with little jumps and then a cheeky off camber 2ft drop off on to the trail at the end. I thought I could roll down it before last minute deciding against it and landed rubber side down. Tom however got attracted by the magnetic force that was coming from the tree to the left of trail at the end of the northshore and ended up riding straight at it. My first thoughts were that he must have broken something as he dropped to floor and lay there panting it out after getting winded again. So we decided to give the rest of this black run a miss and skipped across on to the red run, which darted across and down some steep decents before a horrid climb and a final roll along the side of the reservoir before returning to the car park.

The route, speed and timings can be found here (need to check the privacy on this so leave a comment if you can't see it, thanks)

Endomondo Mountain biking Workout

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Post dissertation thrash

The final year project is due to be handed in on Tuesday, so a trip to Coed Llandegla has been planned.

We shall hopefully have a couple of cars of riders, and bikes and make a good day of it. Tom will be trying his new front tyre (Maxxis Ardent). and I will have my new Camelbac Antidote reservoir filled due to the previous one leaking on my leg. :( Pete has new DMR V8 pedals, so we should see him gaining more confidence on the trails.
Andy R will be out with his bouncer, after a service and new brakes and rubber rings.

Hoping to get a camera sorted to do some filming and photos, as I have a feeling it could be an interesting one.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Cannock Chase

Myself and Tom went to Cannock to ride both Follow the dog and Monkey trail.

It was a very last minute decision based on the forecast for the rest of the week. It paid off, we had one light shower after the fire track ascent, so we rode quickly to get under the cover of the trees.

The trail was surprisingly dry and gripping, with puddles inside some of the berms. The trail is so stony that if your tyres get wet they slip on every surface struggling to get grip.

I followed Tom down one section with a few jumps, the first he became slightly unbalanced, this was increased when he went over the second resulting in a spectacular crash. A grazed knee and elbow later Tom stood pumped and ready to continue riding. After checking the bike was fine, we carried on, faster than we had before he had gained more confidence due to falling off.

I tackled one of the black runs, that has large rocky drop-offs, which I was sure I was going to lose teeth from my big chainring, however I survived, and met up with Tom on the red. He commented saying that the red was pretty difficult with the step downs being higher that he had ridden before, but no falls (so he let on).

The rest of the ride was fairly uneventful, bar my few attempts to ride off piste down the side rather than round the corner, I was pushing too hard trying to catch Tom after taking off my long sleeve jersey.

We arrived back and ventured into the shop where a 2.25 Maxxis Advent tyre was purchased, this was to replace Toms 2.1 Bontanger tyre. The drive back home ended in rain and very wet roads, the rain had missed Cannock, which we were both glad about.

Here's a little clip from Cannock of Tom.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Nant-yr-Arian - Review

When Thursday morning came I was woken by the heavy rain pattering against my window, thinking oh no what are we doing going biking in this. However, I managed to get back to sleep before the alarm went off at 7:30, I jumped out of bed and flung open the curtains. NO RAIN!!

Breakfast was 2 weetabix to supply the fuel for the morning and we jumped in the car, a bit cramped some would say, I was so glad I had called shotgun.

The navigation was set and we were off to a place none of us had been before. 2 hrs. until arrival and slight bit of drizzle in the air I was getting excited again, beating off the apprehension I had earlier on. The radio was on and some tunes were playing, one which would stick with us through out the day, Fun. - We are young, this provided fun singing at the top of our lungs through the forests.

We arrived at the trail centre and the car park was empty to say the least, we got set up and a few more cars arrived with bikes. After a bit of faffing around with tyre pressures we headed off up a bit of fire road uphill, this was a nice gentle warm-up for the legs. The trail then cuts off to the left through some woods climbing slowly before releasing you into an area that had been cleared on a steep bank. This section was flowing and technical as the corners were sharp and had a drop to the side, the track was narrow single track that combined some rock jumps or a chicken run to the side for the less experienced rider. Large berms and the rock jumps carried on until you get spat out onto another section of fire track.

The fire track was the top of the 'Leg burner' and leads you to spaghetti junction a central meeting point of all the trails, the all start and end from this point. A swift drink stop and we departed to the summit trail, following the blue markers.  The trail skirts the lake and heads through a gate on to a farm track that combined both rock and loose gravel. Myself and Pete had a little king of the mountain competition up this section however Pete's line choice scuppered his chances. Once at the top we head down on the same track that was covered in running water, this was a very fast section that almost resulted in all three of us falling. Tom was in front, we cut across a rock face that was covered in water and he dragged the brakes resulting in a slight rear wheel lock up and wobble this caused me to brake and the same outcome. Pete was behind leaving a gap but managed to brake but not recover ending up lying on the rock soaked from the running water.

The trail follows the valley along with some impressive views

The next section was the mark of Zorro a narrow single-track that lived up to its name as it zig zagged its way down through the woods filling everyone's faces smiles, which was a good thing considering the leg burner was next. This is a gruelling 2 mile climb which allowed me time to take in some food, as I read from Swiss Retreats guide, "Eat when feeling good, not when you are feeling bad as it is too late" Up the climb we saw some interesting things such as water falls and caves

The climb ends back at spaghetti junction, at which point we followed the red Pendam markers which took us around the lake, over one of my favourite sections of the centre, hippity hop which is full of rollers and jumps. I was leading and I could hear yelps of excitement from Tom behind as he caught air for the first time.     During this section I was trying to improve my jumping trying to manipulate the bike in the air, I did find myself landing front end first a few times which was a bit twitchy.

The fun continued over the final sections camels hump and drunken druid, and finally high as a kite. These are all incredibly enjoyable descents and is well worth all the effort for the climbs. Once finished I wanted to go around again, however the others were felling the climbs and we departed after washing the bikes and re paking the car. A well deserved lunch of Fish and Chips on the beach as Clarach Bay. 

All in all an awesome centre and day, I cannot wait to go again.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Excited about tomorrow

Tomorrow Tom, Pete and I are heading out to Nany-yr-Arian (I can't pronounce it either). 

We are hoping to combine both the summit and pendam trails, both reds should be around 23km. It will be Toms first time riding his Trek Mamba 29er, I am interested as to how they perform on the routes and roots.

Tonight we packed the car up, bit tight with three people and three bikes but they are in, we are not. I am looking forward to the ride and particularly looking forward to the river crossing. Forecast is not looking so good, with showers forecast for the afternoon.

Pete is riding his Ghost, I am on my Rocky Mountain UK special

Pics will be uploaded tomorrow :D