The 1st November 2015 recorded some of the highest temperatures in the UK for the time of the year with Mid Wales hitting 22 Celsius! What an amazing stroke of luck that we (a large contingent from MB Swindon) were heading to BikePark Wales again. You can’t plan the weather as you have to book the uplift months in advance – we booked this trip in August with no idea what was going to be in store for us! The weather forecast looked good but the fog and darkness on the M4 heading towards Cardiff was not promising. By the time we all met at the cafe/car park the sun was up and the fog (certainly in the Merthyr valley) had all but disappeared.
Soon it was time to get on the bus and start thinking about your first trail. Mostly we have all begun with Sixtapod and I think all but a few of our gang did that today, but as the new blue trail had opened literally 24 hours after my last visit to BikePark Wales, I was eager for a go down Terry’s Belly.
Billed as the longest blue descent in the UK I was keen to see just how tiring this trail really was. At 4.2 km its a long trail, and its loads of fun.
You start with a link trail where the line splits off to the left down 50 Shades of Black and it then eases you in nicely to some flowy berms and small jumps, before sending you into the trees.
At this point the jumps start to get a tiny bit bigger, here and there (but it is a blue trail), a few easy doubles are thrown in and the berms get bigger and you start to move quicker.
Its a great work out as you are pumping, pedaling and turning all the way to the bottom. The berms gradually get tighter and more compact and to keep a good flow you really need to know how to shift your weight efficiently on the bike.
By the time you have reached the bottom I reckon you have been through around 30 berms and you feel it! I had two goes and it takes around 10-12 mins to get down. This includes the pedal section and short bit of fire road. Its a shame there’s so much else to do at BPW as some practice on this run and I am sure I could get some good times.
But, there is so much to do at BikePark Wales. Other than a few goes at Terry’s Belly I spent most of the day starting at Vicious Valley and taking various splits down A470, BonneyVille and the various black and red sections off the fire road and from the road tunnel.
It was slippery in the woods as the rain and fog made the exposed off camber roots incredibly greasy and difficult to traverse.
But all in all it was a superb day with only a few foot dabs here and there and a couple of scary moments on Deep Navigation where you couldn’t see the greasy rocks because of the carpet of wet leaves on top; and one particularly heart in mouth moment on Rock n Roll as the trail got very steep and rocky the second after you realised it was too late to turn back.
Once again, I loved riding the Escarpe and the WTB tubeless set up held up all day and I felt really confident going quicker and harder than I have done before. This could be the last visit to BPW this year for me and it was a great one.
Til the next time BikePark Wales – diolch, hwyl fawr am nawr!