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Riding in Wales

Bike Park Wales

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Now, according to my Dad (so it must be true), the nearby town of Merthyr Tydfil once boasted 365 pubs in its mining heyday (note: never go there for a pub crawl). Not so today, but it does now contain about the biggest bike park on our island. As a last minute stand in with a group of Chris G’s Farnham associates I had a coveted uplift pass for a Saturday in September.

An early start, but a very uneventful drive had me pulling into the car park just after 9am, the blue skies that accompanied me all the way up the M4 abruptly stopped at the Severn Bridge like some kind of force field running up the river, still, it was dry and warm enough, and a whole lot better than had been forecast the previous few days.

Chris (nursing sore ribs from an impressive OTB at Afan the day before), Bob, Leigh, Buzz and the others all arrived shortly after and we were quickly ensconced in the rather unpleasant smelling uplift van, think damp, mouldering underwear that you forgot in your school kit bag for a term and you’d be getting close.

There really is a plethora of runs here and the first runs down the Blues such as Sixtapod and Melted Welly to find your feet instantly got you in the flow. Poppity Ping, Willy Waver and Terry’s Belly also deserve special mention for fun and flow. In fact they are so well designed, riding them blind at nearly full chat didn’t cause any unnecessary grabbing of brakes or offline moments. This continues all the way down back to the uplift point. These runs aren’t over quickly either, you get a good uninterrupted 5 to 10 minute descents (if you don’t pull over for a rest). Even the red routes are fine to ride hard from the go, but do need to be given some respect, as drops, jumps, rocks, roots and tight steep turns all feature on this grade.

Another positive is the vibe, inevitably you get separated from some of your mates if you’re in a big group, but this just means you get into conversation with other bikers, share some stories, find out the best spots and any warnings of what to expect. I ended up tagging along with a couple of small different groups during the day and perhaps pushed myself more than I would of on my own.

Despite a heavy shower for an hour or so, the trails remained firm and offered good grip (rocks and roots excluded) and boy are these trails lovingly created, almost a form of art in certain places, this is despite what the best typical Welsh weather can throw at it. Don’t get me wrong I’d love to ride this place on a fully dry day, I suspect your rotors would get a bit warmer in those conditions. Don’t bother bringing any food either, the well stocked visitor centre clearly hasn’t heard of the term ‘calorie controlled diet’ and the adjoining bike shop, sells just about everything you might need.

To be honest I think I only ran down two or three of the same downhills all day, you can link several different options at intersecting points and build your confidence up and up to tackle what, at first, may of seemed daunting, into a run that would give the foresighted trail diggers a slightly fuzzy feeling inside of a job well done.

I’ve put up a number of videos on YouTube from the day (see below), please excuse any excited swearing at the end of trails, and I vow to go back soon and do the A470 line better. If you want an alpine fix on British soil, visit here!

Steve

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The old ones are always the oldest

So the rain has made a particularly good effort to wash away the trails… again…

However, soggy bits aside, I am delighted by the sterling contribution from David D and Matt W to the all round “T.F.I.Tâ„¢” zeitgeist with their photographic tributes to days gone by which are mostly of James G and Mark T.

Particularly pleased with “that photo” of James and Long Minge. Ah, do you remember the pub in Long Minge?

 

Afan in October

So Afan done and dusted, a couple of minor mechanicals but all back in one piece. Steve has put up a very quick Afan edit for general enjoyment which is below. By God it was dry for Wales in October! Overriding conclusions of the weekend are:

1. Welsh rocks are large
2. “The Blade” is ok in sections
3. The skills park was awesome
4. “Sambuca Taboo” is a great game. Until the morning
5. It was quite nice to watch South Africa beat Wales…. in Wales
6. July 2016 is the current favourite for Morzine 2016

Day 1 Afan done

Day 1 done – long journey here (God how I hate the M4) but we got some excellent runs in just above Bryn Bettws Lodge.

 

Chicken Curry and Lamb Shank consumed and we’ve had to ask Matt to replenish the Tea supply tomorrow

Game on

Steve’s Sick Edit…

Well, perhaps more like “Steve’s Sick Edit that demonstrates why camera position is important while using your GoPro”. That said, nice to see Mr F giving the S4P second and third lines a good spanking. I have sadly not been able to borrow the camera from work so Wales footage duty is down to Mr D, Mr F and Mr W (if he can find his camera).

South Wales here we come

Transition: Over the Hill

Nice video just popped in my inbox from Mr D – a submission from Transition Bikes in which the line “Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional”. Highly approve of that.

So in honour of all things Transition AND the impending South Wales mini-extravaganza this weekend in Cwmcarn, Afan and BPW (if time allows):

Over The Hill from Transition Bikes on Vimeo.

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