Monday, September 21, 2009

Welsh Weekender - Brechfa and Afan!

WOOOOOAAAAAH. It was dry, it was hot and we were in Wales... What gives?! Not only that, but we also had, for once, been damn organised!

Damn, we look cool...

Well, this trip ran by the rule book. Rule one - Get your works van. Rule 2 - Modify in one hour with a palette. Rule three - meet off the M4 in a seedy bit of countryside, at 10pm, transfer bikes and kit and then ditch a car in an unsuspecting road! Rule four - arrive in Wales, damn late, park anywhere (preferably in the middle of a strange wood where an owl keeps you awake as you've left the van door open because you brought a -10c down bag and your running with sweat). Rule 5 - ride your guts out at two trail centres!


After a fitfull owl filled sleep, we were up at the crack and making a civilized breakfast, before heading round the corner to the start of the Brecfa Raven black route. We had intended to ride out the red run first and get a mammoth day in, but there was a sign saying it was closed for repair (apparently just resurfacing some of the fire road!), so we thought we'd just enjoy the black.


I was especially looking forward to this as I've been wanting to ride here ever since seeing Adam's vids of the table top run...

Its a nice sized loop of 17km or there abouts and has the feeling of being 'surfaced' in a lot of parts, but reading on the internet, this is just the under soil when the top soil is removed. It had been dry for a while and it was great to ride in dusty (!) and fast conditions in Wales!


shaley surface can be sharp...

After te first climbs we were getting into it and the day ran beautifully. The trail isn't as demanding as you'd think for a black and I'd really have to say that it doesn't push you much - certainly Daryl felt that some of the other northern centres he'd been to were more challenging and it has none of the seat of the pants Alpine style feel.

Having said that, there are some epic bits that just flow sooo nicely and felt amazing to ride flat out on your first run through. Some corking sections which really allowed you to work your bike and carry speed nicely and some tech forest bits that kept you wide eyed and concentrating. More props to the Trek as it is such a fast trail bike and was loving it!

Local boy Martin shows the us the style...


The highlight was definitely the table top run which we sessioned with a nice chap for about an hour. Once you worked out which the big ones and nicely lipped ones were, you could stop landing to flat and carry a nice rythem throug. It must be said, that these photos don't do our sesh justice as (with the exception of Martyn) and it was much nicer to train doing whips and tweaks!


Now thats dry for Wales!

Everyone likes a bit of moss...



So after an epic day, we drove off to the relative comfort of the Glyncorrwg trail center at Afan forest park for Sunday's action. After pitching up and having quite seriously the biggest piece of cheese on toast imaginable, we cooked, settled into a beer and enjoyed how easy the van was making our lives!

After a quick breccy, we were off and climbing - always a shock to a fry-up filled system. Now for some reason, I put Daryl to shame all day, climbing and descending. He blamed my new bike, I just think Itzy's tired him out...




we decided to run Whytes Level with the down hill bit thrown in and after what seemed a very quick climb, found ourselves at the top and ready to go.



The black bit is good fun and we stopped off to take a few pics amidst just enjoying it. The scenery is wicked here and I'd kind of forgotten about it, but you do get some nice views in and out of the wooded sections.



Unfortunately the camera decide that new batteries would only last one and a half days and packed it in after this last pic, so we just had to get on and ride it instead of faffing! Which we did.


The early start meant we got away quickly and we were both eating dinner at 7pm in Pompey and MK! Can't wait to do some Scottish ones next!!! Viva la Van!

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