Saturday, 29 March 2008


"I am the rain
I'm gonna reign this way again
I am the rain" *

I can see the headline now. Dad of four in twice in one week outing shock.
I'd been hoping to do the Penmachno ride since it was first put forward a few weeks back. I didnt want to stick my neck out and definitely say yes until this week 'panned out'. In the end it panned out OK ,so it was a goer.

Jeff drove ,which was nice,thanks Jeff.Penmachno is about an hour and a half away,just a few miles past Betws Y coed in North Wales.I havent been before but i have done a few of the other nearby Welsh trails so I was looking forward to it ,expecting more of the same. I had reservations about man-made trails but to be honest they are so well done they do make for a good days riding.Penmachno was more of the same really.Straight out of the car park youre out on the trail.The obligatory bodyshock first climb takes you to the action ,fire road punctuated with bits of rolling singletrack.All good stuff.A good warm up. The weather ,also following the tried and trusted formula ,was V.blowy and a bit damp. Not too bad and after the first climb I'm sure we were all nicely warmed up.We duck into the trees for the same samey singletrack. Hardpacked slate , a couple of rocks and roots. Like I said ,and I've said it before,it is packaged for the masses MTBing,but who cares? It is really well done , and challenging at times ,and physical and fast and if you dont want to go fast ,as safe as you like.To compare it with a wilderness ride in the lakes is unfair. Those rides do have an extra bit of indefineable 'thing' that could be called 'better' but at the end of the day it's still just riding. So ,good then. I really enjoyed it. Plenty fast woodsy sections ,up and down ,and some good climbs. Switchbacks are where it's at.The weather turned about half way round . When I say turned ,it was already bad ,then it turned ,badderer.Raining hard and windy.We had an option of an extra 12k loop but no one seemed to be jumping for joy at the prospect ,so we cut it short for the standard ,22k loop and climbed on.We stopped for a buttie and now it's really raining,digging my' taste the difference 'crusty baguette out of my backpack it doesnt seem too crusty at all now . Hmm.

This was about the half way point where it turned a bit nasty for a while. We had to cross exposed moorland. The singletrack surface holds up well . I'd go as far to say it's ' all weather ', a few puddles ,some deeper than you might first think ,but generally good to ride . No bogfest considering the rain and all that.The strong sidewind wasnt helping progress much though but with gritting of teeth it wasnt so bad.It's all relative.Let's just say I've seen worse.(Previous post -how to put people off mountainbiking )The descent off the moors was a classic too.Rolling and pumping. All the old BMX moves.Andy was in his element doing his ubiquitous little tabletop turndown that he always does ,almost as much as I do no footed endoes in car parks.I slipped a pedal on a little hipjump banging it right on my sciatic nerve bad leg I dont like to mention. It'll be sore tomorrow.Ah well.Landed it one footed .All the old BMX moves.Arsehole twitching a bit.

We havent far to go now ,but Gareth is building up the tension by announcing the last DH is a 'toughie' and that he 'decked it ' there the last time they came and let's 'have it'. Oh ,good ,just what you need when you're cold and wet on the side of a hill with no phone signal. Andy also said it was fast and hard with some big rock drops exposed on open switchbacks. Oh , nice. To say the reservations were creeping back is an understatement. We arrive at the trailhead and there's much lowering of seats and dry mouth.I dont know what all the fuss was about. Yes it was fast ,and yes a bit sketchy,but all really fast ,flowy and do-able,the switchbacks being especially nice.Just make sure you go around them and not over the top. The guys said it must've been the fact that last time it was A) summer and B) they were on their ' big ' bikes and therefore were going 'much faster'. Ok , I can buy that. It was good and with a bit more speed could be quite tasty.
And that was that. Spits you out right at the car. Nice. Almost ,er ,designed that way.Definitely worth another visit for that extra bit in the dry summer. Do they have a summer in Wales?

Good ride today.Me ,Jeff,Andy ,Gareth,Phil and Yeti Tim ( Nee GT / Norco ).Pub/drink/chat.

Oh ,yea. The bike. Gary Fisher HiFi. Ripening just nice.I am fussy with tyres but I dunno ,theyre working well.I did discover that the bikes travel isnt quite as bottomless as the meta on that last bit .It is V.good though. Get it going and it fairly wafts along.You just dont notice it.Up ,down ,whatever.Tesco's finest taste the difference mountainbike.

I took a few pictures of an old BMW 6 series in the carpark,de-badged ,so a 628 then.Then it started raining so I didnt take any more. Gareth did. His are up at

Heres one .Check em out.


*Unkle. Their new long player is quite good.

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