In an effort to get away from the relentless mud afflicting Surrey at the moment a mini Moles breakway group (well DaveW and I) agreed to meet up at Afan/Cwmcarn this weekend. Well it wasn’t exactly just muddy but there was other weather to contend with too.
As you may have read, some of the more “progressive Mole riders” (DaveW’s great phrase for people with bigger balls than the rest of us!) are dipping into the world of downhilling. Hence a weekend of Cwmdown uplift at Cwmcarn was booked and by good fortune the “most devoted son-in-law in the UK” (me!) had arranged to visit the in-laws in Wales on the same weekend. Pure co-incidence I assure you.
The family and I drove down to Wales on Thursday night and from Delamere servcies onwards there was plenty of snow. It wasn’t looking good for the weekend weather.
A slew of texts and emails over the Friday let us know that the Uplift had been cancelled for the weekend due to 4 inches of snow at the top of Cwmcarn. That meant a couple of Moles bailed from the weekend, leaving only Dave and I, so we arranged to meet at Afan on Saturday. Dave was on a weekend pass from the family and he wasn’t giving up his weekend that easily.
Saturday morning started with a beautiful clear sky, not a breathe of wind and deep snow on the mountains (but not the roads) as I drove from Abergavenny to Glyncorrwg. Dave was already there looking chilled with a large coffee at the excellent cafe and talking about hiring the wicked-looking Orange Blood that was in the shop.
We were soon grinding up the White’s Level climb. After a couple of sections we were in the snowline and progress got harder as we had to push on through the crisp snow. Snow again – I’m getting blasé to riding the white stuff this winter. Once we were on the singletrack at the top of the climb progress was careful with gentle lines being picked through snow covered rocks. At Energy we headed for the W2W trail, where under the wind turbines at the first sheep gate we met DaveBus, Terry and Rich from Diary of a Mountain Biker. It’s a small MTB-ing world. They were staying at the Afan Lodge and riding the W2W in reverse.
We headed across to the Wall where we pushed as fast as we dared along the trails. At one point I pinged the side of a small stone and it zipped off into the valley without a sound (best not to think about that). As we caught up at a section start Dave said that he could tell I had more local knowledge since I knew where to speed up and were to slow down. The descent was the usual blast with arms pumped as we raced each other down.
Back down to the valley we ambled along to the fireroad climb and headed back to the snowline. Legs burned as we passed a couple of young lads and other mountain bikers (they were walking but got back on as we got closer) in a slo-mo race.
Legs were beginning to hurt as we rode back through the snow to Energy. In the trees of Whites the snow had been melting and the trails were now seriously muddy to add to the fun. Energy was much slower yet more skittish than normal.
As we headed out through the trees after the first section of boardwalk the mud deepened and Dave got cramp in his leg. Soon his cramp was balanced, by a cramp in the other leg. However Dave pushed through and soon we were heading down the last descent with Dave showing the way on his downhill setup Orange Five.
As we rolled into Glyncorrwg it was time for a hearty meal, well earned. Our day had gone better than the DoMTB folks who had bust a freehub just after leaving us and walked, rolled back down off White’s. We met them again at the cafe.
As we parted Dave, stayed at Afan for more on Sunday. Determined to ride more and I think for his date with a Blood. However the folks at Afan Lodge advised him that with the extra snow forecast for Saturday evening would make the trails impossible on Sunday – but he was a man with a weekend pass on a mission to enjoy it to the max – apparently Penhydd was hard going but highly enjoyable. Plus, judging from his message about the Blood test ride on White’s black run, I think that a pair of Fox 36’s could be on one of his bikes soon.