Adventure biking in the Dyfi

After riding some new routes around the area 18months ago, I was keen to get back and ride them in better weather. When Pete took me out ‘prospecting’ the weather was never a consideration, but good conditions make such a difference to riding off the beaten path.

Andy Braund, the mountain bike ranger in the Coed y Brenin area joined me for what I was sure would be a route I could remember.

We both left home in good conditions before meeting in Aberangell to faff our way on to the first climb. Unfortunately for Andy getting changed was a bit of a busmans holiday as we were asked by a bunch of off road motocyclists about where the “park” was. Illegal off road riding is a major issue in the area, partly due to the history of the forest being involved with lots of motorsport events, and partly because it is an uninhabited, attractive place to ride.

Dark clouds built as we got ready to leave, and after a few hundred metres the rain started to fall. There isn’t much chance to warm up before climbing off the valley floor and up a tarmac road that becomes a farm track that becomes open farmland. We were chatting away about heaps of stuff, so much that Andy forgot to turn his Garmin on.

At the top of the climb we joined a track that Andy recognised from the Dyfi Enduro and we went onto the first descent of the day. I picked up my first ‘off’ here as I was trying to remember the route not noticing some off camber strata that in the wet was happy to tuck my front wheel. The next section started to steepen with some riding, that in the dry would be quick and airy. A quick navovation stop to check where the bridleway went, before following a fire trail to a dead end and a puncture (mine). A quick tube change, chat about public sector mergers and the fact it stopped raining before a good half hour hunt the bridleway session. As with a lot of Rights of Way in remote areas, what is on the map isn’t what is on the ground. Eventually we decided to chase fire roads and climbed up and out of the forest on a lovely track across high moorland.

Before heading down the contours we had a quick chat about previous lives over a muesli bar. This next descent is a hidden gem, and is exactly my kind of riding. By the end of this track Andy and I were level pegging on the falling off stakes. Cross the Dulas before a short climb on tar to get back in the forest. Climbing up on fire road, I threw Pete’s gauntlet down, a technical singletrack climb that Pete hadn’t “cleaned”. Andy took a run up, but changing cross cambers and steep gradient soon claimed a bit of walking. The top of this climb resulted in another missing bridleway, but we were wise to this and span round, to meet the other end, on a fire road.

A piece of single track, no more than two tyre widths leads steeply downhill from here. This section, if you have the right head on, is the most giggles per metre of the route. Lots of offs, lots of slides, lots of axle deep ruts. After some bushwhacking and a seriously steep (unrideable for us) rock drop off at the end we regained a fire road. As we started to freewheel we started talking about the cut shins we were sporting, and how that used to be the mark of a biker in the 90’s. A bit different to todays groomed trails.

I got two recommendations-do the Dyfi Enduro, and join Strava. I’ve done one we’ll see about thenother!

A great day out, not quality mountain biking in terms of speed, but it is exactly the sort of adventurous biking that lead to the development of trail centres. We both enjoyed doing something different, getting back into to groove of navigating rather than following posts and just enjoying a ride in a stunning area.

Really, really looking forward to seeing Pete’s guidebook in print, routes like these are special, and should be shared!

Ashton Court “Nova” Mountain Bike Trail Bristol #mountainbiking

Staying away from home with work can alsways be a drag. Either sat in a hotel room watching rubbish telly or working into the night. On a bit of a whistle-stop tour of the South of England, yesterday I ended up in Bristol. A quick call earlier to Matt Willams of The Physio Clinic in Bristol discoverd that I could catch up with Matt. Matt was instrumental in getting my calf injury fixed, is a professional Physio and is really easy to talk with about a range of things. The fact that he can help me out by Skype is really great for me. Matt is currently helping triathlete Jon Wood out. Jon has just acheived 5th in his age group at the European Championships. Matt promised me an evening of mountain biking, and to be honest I was a little sceptical about the riding around Clifton Downs. We parked high above the Avon, as we set off a few spots of rain started and became heavier and as we pedalled across Clifton suspension bridge, I tried to convince myself that I could see the sun behind the squall. Matt stopped to talk to people he knew out on running sessions, a testament to how much sport he is involved with before arriving at Ashton Court. The
Staying away from home with work can alsways be a drag. Either sat in a hotel room watching rubbish telly or working into the night. On a bit of a whistle-stop tour of the South of England, yesterday I ended up in Bristol. A quick call earlier to Matt Willams of The Physio Clinic in Bristol discoverd that I could catch up with Matt. Matt was instrumental in getting my calf injury fixed, is a professional Physio and is really easy to talk with about a range of things. The fact that he can help me out by Skype is really great for me. Matt is currently helping triathlete Jon Wood out. Jon has just acheived 5th in his age group at the European Championships. Matt promised me an evening of mountain biking, and to be honest I was a little sceptical about the riding around Clifton Downs. We parked high above the Avon, as we set off a few spots of rain started and became heavier and as we pedalled across Clifton suspension bridge, I tried to convince myself that I could see the sun behind the squall. Matt stopped to talk to people he knew out on running sessions, a testament to how much sport he is involved with before arriving at Ashton Court. The “Nova” Trail  has no where near the height gain I am used to, but is well laid out with some nice swoopy turns, and jumps. There is a lot crammed in, with the final descent being really enjoyable. Looking back, this last descent is the only bit which doesn’t feel a little bit too contrived. It journeys down through the woodland, jumping and turning with the contours, rather than being forced around a track that is synthetic. Don’t get me wrong, for urban riding it is all really good, but the last descent would be the bit I would “loop” if I did it again. I was riding my XC hardtail with Maxi Hi Rollers, for a more enjoyable ride I’d want a more relaxed hardtail or a full suspension bike with somehing like Larsen TT’s-the surface is hard pack and the rain wasn’t affecting the surface. Some of the smaller whoops wouild flatten out nicely on a bouncer, but a jump bike would be fun doubling up on some of the table tops. The sun broke out the other side of the squall as we arrived back at the car. You couldn’t have writtem it, but we only got a little ‘moist’. Nice to know the trail is there, great to ride in company for the banter. All in all, far better than sitting in a travel lodge. Nice cross training and some more thoughts from Matt about getting more from my training. Just wish I had my foam roller with me as my calf is feeling a bit tight. A bit of post ride research showed me something I completely missed… Nova, backwards is Avon. There was me thinking it was all about the ‘new’!