A break-away faction of Moles joined up with many of the Diary of a Mountain Biker crew for the first road trip of the year. Before any of you with road-riding sympathies get too excited, by road trip I mean hit the road to ride mountain trails!
So Tony, who just happened to be in Wales at the time (great planning), Jem, myself and my brother headed up to Cwmcarn on Friday for a quick loop just to set us up properly for the riding planned at Afan on Saturday.
My memories of my one previous foray at Cwncarn were not great—I had a virulent stomach upset on the way there and way back (mercifully not on the way round) and I think this clouded my recollection of what a damn fine trail it is. They have also changed the final run in so the rocky and highly technical trails up to this point morph into a smooth, rock-free, flowing and fast–as–you–like hoot of a finale that spits you out into the car park with such a wide grin on your mush that you have stretch marks for the rest of the day.
Our accommodation for the night was the Travel Lodge at Pencoed and very good it was too with 6 sharing each room (3 blokes and 3 bikes). Although in the middle of nowhere in particular, we were lucky enough to find a Harvester next door. I’ve not eaten in one for years and I have to say that once I had calibrated my brain to ignore the sneezing and coughing in the good-old salad bar area (can’t believe they still use that concept), I really enjoyed my first trip to one for years.
Unfortunately, I was not able to recapture my yoof-ful exploits at the Leatherhead branch many years back, when custom dictated you gave the life-size Aunt Sally manikin a portion as you left the premises after a few pints!
The following morning we made the half hour trip to Afan and rode Penhydd, followed by Whites Level in the afternoon. Tony was on a total mission and really showed his fitness level to be beyond my wildest dreams, with Jem making the ups and downs look pretty easy too. Me? Well I seem to be suffering from very heavy legs of late so I just ambled along on the ups and blasted the downs, giving the dialled bikes Alpine its first real test. Suffice to say, it made a great account of itself as expected.
As for Roger, it was his first trail centre experience and he ranked highly on the silly grin-ometer. There must be something in the family blood that predicates us to crashing. To be fair, Roger’s big moment on the descent at Cwncarn was mercifully just that and he won the award for Save of the Day.
Despite being very fit, it surprised him just how technical and challenging this riding is and a completely different experience to the usual Surrey Hills thang. I think its fair to say that his mind has been opened up to finding more technical and challenging stuff to ride locally so I’m sure we’ll see him joining the Moles more often.
A great weekend and it has certainly whet our appetites to more of the same this year. The centres in Scotland are calling as are Dorset, the Alps, Swinley and so it goes on. So much to do, so little time…