For the second weekend in a row I found myself in Wales on my bike, with my old school friend and some extra “hangers on” this time.
An early start on Sunday found us gathered at 9.30 ready to roll. The pleasantries and new introductions were over and we headed off up a now familiar climb up the local mynydd (mountain).
The theme today was going to be me struggling up hill but loving the down hills. A 350m climb straight out of the starting gate is not something I am used to, but I struggled more today than I did last week. I think we set off at a quicker pace, but I am also convinced I got my food/fuel wrong. But let’s forget that and get back to the fun.
Its been reasonably well documented by me that this location was the first spot I rode a mountain bike and is responsible for my interest in steep technical trails, so to find myself here twice within a week was getting me excited.
Letting out another 5psi seemed to give the Vigilante / Trail Boss combo some added traction and my confidence in riding the terrain with some recent familiarity and the added grip meant that I got some quicker times again.
After the gruelling (it’s push/hike only in places) climb and the diversion to have a jump at Big Bertha again, we began with the right line down the mountain to get warmed up with some now well known (by me) twisty bits and rooty drops. The new guys were loving it but in quite different ways. James is an experienced Gravity Enduro rider and very capable on this type of terrain and he showed us how to ride with some style today. On his hardtail too!
John was enjoying it too but a few early offs, set his mood to “cautious” though he did do a jump early on that I refused. I can’t stress enough how these trails would be BLACK rated at any trail centre in the UK. That is if they would even pass health and safety checks. Locals often build off piste what they want to ride and what they can’t find at a trail centre, and there are some pretty extreme examples of this here.
We we’re already planning a revisit by the way!
My Vitus yet again coped with the steep gradient well. Letting out another 5psi seemed to give the Vigilante / Trail Boss combo some added traction and my confidence in riding the terrain with some recent familiarity and the added grip meant that I got some quicker times again. Simply put, I was loving it.
Blind jumps and drops from the previous week’s visit were now less of a mystery and my descent was so much more focused on my technique than on worrying about what was coming next.
This confidence continued as we ventured to some new trails on a neighbouring hill side that took the steepness to a whole new level. After 3 hours of riding I could feel my control of the bike growing. My willingness to place more outcomes in the very capable hands of the Vitus Escarpe was increasing. This helped me relax on some particularly steep sections and drops that I may previously have had a long hard look at before possibly walking down.
What’s next for me and the Escarpe? Probably a quick trip to the Forest of Dean in 2 weeks followed by a booked uplift day at BikePark Wales on 1st November.
I have some shaky video to look through so come back soon for a quick GoPro edit.