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.