Saturday, 6 December 2008

Riding and Rallying

A week ago last Wednesday, Jake was holding his real-ale social and the majority of the mountain bike club were getting steadily intoxicated. Including, it has to be said, your's truely. For some time now I have wanted to visit Afan forest in south wales to ride "the Wall" which is a well known trail that I have never had the opportunity to ride. So, in my merryment, I took the opportunity to gauge interest for a venture. My proposal was met with agreement from many members and at about 2am I posted a thread on the forum to see who was serious and not just drunk. To my surprise many agreed when sober and that is why at 6.45am this morning, I was waiting in Lidl carpark for the epic drive down to South Wales. Unsurprisingly, we didn't actually set off until 7.30am and arrived at Afan at around 10am with a lovely stop on a mountain pass through the Beacons. As Jake pointed out, the sat-nav had excelled itself. We had found what must be one of the finest driving roads in the country with beautiful scenery draped in early-morning misty temperature-inversions.

Upon arrival the seven of us had the usual WI meeting combined with a 'longest ice-skid' compotitioan and then set off for the Wall. Initial impressions were excellent with a quick warm-up section before a long track leading to the initial climb.
On the initial climb Stu powered ahead with myself in hot pursute unil we decided to waste some time waiting for the others playing 'longest gravel-skid'.
Before long the inevitable happened and Chuck snapped a chain ... twice. Jake was suffering from mechanicals too mashing his middle-ring. After a time we came upon a taped off area of the course with martials on patrol. It turned out that I had picked a day to go when the Welsh section of the World Rally Championships were being held in the forest. This presented a dilemma - stay and watch world-class rallying. Or do what we came to and pedal on to a second trail. Eventually, Stu and Sarah decided to go on and ride the second loop with the rest of us opting to stay and watch fast cars! Chuck, Jake and Ben were pretty shagged-out after the climbing and were happy of the rest. But Paul and I were impatient and went ahead to ride further in the hour preceding the sport. We came across an earth tip which we both agreed had immense dirt jump / freeride potential and then the most stunning view point.
Rides like this on clear days are awesome. After sending it down "the graveyard" for a bit we headded back to watch the rally - just comfortably in time to catch the first car.
After about 10 cars and some heckling, we pressed. Chucks chain snapped again and eventually we came to the final descent which eveyone liked, and Jake even praised as the best descent he had ever ridden! (But he was on a full-sus!) The ride was ended with a sossage sandwich at the cafe and a long wait for Stu and Sarah to finish. Back to Aber for a shower, bottle of wine, tea and sleep! (With this blog somwhere in between.)


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