I meant baby.
You’ll never believe what this 70s baby looks like now.
I’m sorry I have no idea what I was thinking with that blog post title. Anyway, that’s me (I was born in 1971 hence the title) having some fun a few weekends ago in South Wales on the water slides at Festival Park in Ebbw Vale. Had a busy day with the kids and my parents doing some tourist style running about the valleys visiting Ebbw Vale, Blaenavon and finally took my kids to the Folly Tower in Pontypool.
The next day I went to BikePark Wales and rounded off a great weekend of summer sun, Welsh mountains and mountain bikes. Aren’t weekends awesome!
Yesterday I went to the Forest of Dean. It had been a pretty stressy week and I really needed some bike time. A few of us met at the Pedalabikeaway cafe with no particular idea of what we were going to ride. FOD has become a much larger playground recently as we have discovered and ridden some of the wider XC an Enduro sections of the forest, as well as some of the dark mysteries corners. So with that in mind we headed off up the “push up” track and went with the flow.
By teasing the knowledge out of some of the locals, exploring wider ourselves and having guided rides from FODMTB, we have slowly but surely built our own mental maps of the trails that in some cases you could walk right by without knowing they were there. The area of forest on the Welsh/English border is making legends out of some of the locals like Charlie Hatton and Katy Curd and is now on the global MTB map and visitors to the UK could do a lot worse than get in touch with FODMTB and ask for a tour!
So we rode up to the start of the DH trails but headed off to hit one of the enduro trails that I haven’t ridden before. Smiles! Then some of the new Freeminers and then back to the cafe. One of the guys had a plan to go to a part of the forest none of us had been to before so off we pedaled along the Family Trail to link to it.
The “Family Trail” is not for the feint hearted! Dogs on leads, dogs not on leads, joggers, walkers, Segways, old people, kids, kids on foot, kids on bikes, Mums on bikes, Grans on bikes and “Strava Dads” (you had to be there). Its like a busy road with no rules!
However, we survived and started the climb up into one of the highest parts of the Forest of Dean – the sun was out and we were heating up and needed the shade of the trees.
Before too long I had that all too familiar feeling of buzzing and grinning cos I was riding an unfamiliar trail. Not knowing what was coming up and how “steep the next bit” actually was going to be.
There is nothing like it in my opinion. I simply love riding steep trails. I am getting more confident with my wheels in the air but I still have a long way to go to consider myself a “jumper” but when it comes to steep and technical stuff I feel totally dialed and tuned into it. I have to give the Vitus Escarpe and the Marzocchi forks some part of the credit as I am sure they have much to do with saving some of my close shaves. But basically its when I am happiest.
Forget about work, the future, washing up, painting the shed, credit card bills, Spotify or Deezer?, do I have a cold coming on?, Brexit, SKY TV prices!, Nextflix or Amazon?, breathing! Everything! Simply forget it all and focus on where the front wheel is headed – I love it.
It was just what I needed and I need to do it again soon.
We may have a few months of decent weather left this year, Sept and Oct can be pretty kind to us here in the good ole U of K but equally we could be in for a long mild autumn and winter with regular rain and more rain. Trails in the Forest will not be ridden as they will be sketchy and ruined by our grippy tyres, changing them for next season.
So for now, we must make the most of it. Get back out as soon as possible and discover more new trails.
I have some new locations lined up really soon, but a bit further away. My first visit to Llandegla in North Wales and then the Minton Batch singletrack is coming in a just a few weeks.
10 of us are off on a little trip to enjoy some man made and natural trails. Its not taken a huge amount of planning but a few of the gangs bikes have conspired to sabotage the trip.
So, lets hope September is kind to us and the boys get those rear shocks fixed in time!
oh and I’m so sorry if you came here looking for wrinkly photos of Princess Leia or some aging Bond Girls