So generally I’m not the hugest fan of trail centres. Lots of people driving Audi’s with really really expensive bikes on the top; Riding in a crowd around a pre-marked and very worn trail is not the sort of thing I normally go in for. Today was different however, and it was with great delight that I woke up at 6am looking forward to leaving Bath for a day in Wales. Trevor and I had been discussing earlier in the week the need for a bit of adventure, and Trevs need to ride for more than 6 hours without going crazy. So we decided wales was the place to go.
7am on a Saturday, Trev, Sarah, Kate and I piled into Trevs 17 year old transit and headed down the motorway. The day turned out to be a beautiful one, and after arriving just before 10am, We set off for a big ride. The girls were planning on mixing some riding with some sunbathing, and we said we’d meet them at the van at 5pm… thats meant 7 hours of riding ’til home time.
Afan argoed has 100Km of singletrack. more than enough for a day, I hear you say? but no, that wasnt enough. The pace was high from the start, and with both of us feeling strong, the pace stayed high all day. Trev was on his new Canyon full susser, so he was pushing me on the downhills from the beginning. We started with a lap of the W2 trail at 44kms, but somehow missed a turn and ended up doing an extra half lap before we made it back to the van for lunch. 60kms down, we set off again for the Wall trail. this is where I started to suffer. It was the first tough ride I’ve done on my Scale, and it wasnt very forgiving. My legs and lungs were feeling fine, but my hands were struggling. It was the first ride where I’ve ever struggling to hold on to the bars… As Trev is sponsored by Ergon, he was quick to suggest a solution. I do, however, think that a switch back to full suspension might be on the cards soon.
Once the Wall was down, that gave us 83km in the bag, and still time to carry on. We headed next for the Skyline trail; a huge loop to the top of the valley, and away from all the people we’d been overtaking all day (why do people ride 6 inch travel bikes and wear body armour on an XC trail?!). The climb from the Valley bottom to the top is the best I’ve done in the UK. 30 mins of singletrack, real switchbacks, a nice even gradient. I set the pace early on and Trev responded well. It felt great to be riding together and both pushing it hard. Trev took over at the top of the climb, and we hammered up to the peak in no time. The view up there was immense, if only I had remembered my camera! Energy was an expensive commodity at this point, and tired thighs started to tell me I had already ridden 100Km. The skyline trail isnt quite as manicured as the other trails at Afan, so it was refreshing to feel like we were a little bit further away from civilisation. The last climb of the day was a brutal fire road drag, and as I was feeling good, I thought I’d put a little kick in; I got a half wheel length on Trev before he responded but we were both moving pretty fast by the time we hit the last downhill. This is where my wrists really gave away, and Trev put a good distance between us by the time we hit the bottom.
So after 6 hours 30 mins of cycling, 113km covered, we headed back to the van, to find the girls sitting on the grass eating ice cream! why had we just ridden all day again?!
It was great to really stretch my legs, and it was by far the toughest ride I’ve done since getting back from the USA. I’m looking forward to plenty more once the summer really starts.