A South Wales Adventure

Jay Mud (Mudtrek) testing the water depth
Jay Mud (Mudtrek) testing the water depth

Sometimes things don’t go quite how you planned them – but that’s OK. This is what happened on Sunday when I “planned” a route all from the comfort of my computer chair, and took more than a dozen riders from MB Swindon and one from Mudtrek with me along for an adventure in South Wales. Continue reading “A South Wales Adventure”

Guess Who’s Back?

Cwmcarn Twrch Trail
Twrch – Very Open for Business

Its been closed for some time due to a disease spread among the Larch trees, a problem that has affected a number of trail centres across South Wales over the last few years and has changed the landscape, in some places beyond recognition.

But now the Twrch is open again!

More than 160,000 larch trees will be felled around the Cwmcarn Forest Drive area over the next 18 months to two years. The tricky terrain means that every tree has to be felled by hand and then winched up to the drive. The process is labour-intensive and expensive. About 2,000 lorry loads of larch timber will be removed from here to a saw mill in mid-Wales designated to process the diseased timber. It will be used to make furniture and fibreboard. – Guardian, May 2015

Continue reading “Guess Who’s Back?”

Too hot to bother

Sorry folks but its been a long day of riding in Wales today with MB Swindon and the HalfWayUp MTB guys from Blackwood.

Temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius and a climb of 1000m over 32km have exhausted me today.

I will tell you all about it tomorrow.

There will be a couple of pics, maybe a video later in the week and a map and some Strava stats.

A Boot Full Of Bike

A Boot Full of Bike

Following on from yesterday’s post about going on club rides here is a very quick summary of what happened today (and a picture of my muddy bike in the boot (trunk) of my car).

We got wet!

Today the rain in Spain rained mainly in Wales and I think on Cwmcarn in particular. 15 of us drove to Cwmcarn each probably travelling at least an hour each way to ride in the wettest conditions I have ridden in for ages. By the end of the ride we were all carrying a few extra litres of water drenched into our coats, jackets (there’s a difference in Wales), shorts, sock, pads and gloves…

Aside from the rain, the ride today with MB Swindon was a good one. The Twrch Trail at Cwmcarn is a pretty tough climb for a novice or some one who is out of shape – like me. The technical elements of the various climbs are no problem in isolation, but the climb especially a continuously technical one such as this, can suck the energy out of you making some obstacles harder than they actually are.

Assuming you have chosen the right line through an obstacle a simple rear wheel lift is the skill that you will find most useful on a technical climb like this; hopping over rocks and thick wet roots are straightforward when done correctly. Approach the obstacle with plenty of forward momentum, lift the front wheel and keep pedaling. As your front wheel finds some grip and the rear wheel approaches the root, step or rock flick the rear end of the bike up while continuing to move forward. Judge it right and your rear wheel will land in just the right place and your feet will be positioned such that you are ready to continue pedaling, hopefully before you have lost any speed. I theory all of the above happens in about a second and you will hardly notice yourself doing it after a while.

Cwmcarn drains really well in the rain so apart from the low sections near the river, there is actually very little mud even after and during a down pour like we had today. Though the rain can wash away dirt leaving more and more exposed rock and roots making the tricky climb even more fun!

I would recommend Cwmcarn to anyone of a moderate fitness level and the loop we did today can be achieved in about 90 mins – it took us a little longer as there were 15 of us and we opted to loop around the free ride section twice.

Twrch Trail
Twrch Trail

I need to do a proper write up of the ride for the club this week and will link back here as soon as I’ve done it.

If you want to learn some MTB skills try an MB Swindon trail skills course.