Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Afan Sept'07 ?

After our recent brilliant trip north of the border, I'm now fired up to arrange the next Knobblies wkend away. It seems that most of you are keen to make another pilgrimage to south Wales, not that I can blame you - the riding is tip top and the only trouble with the trails is choosing which one :p However, I'm open to suggestions so speak up if you'd like to arrange a different location.

I've taken the liberty of assuming we'll be making our annual, September pilgrimage to Bryn Bettws cabins and have updated our online spreadsheet to show their availability.

Update; We've now agreed that to hit s.Wales over the last wkend of September (Friday 28th thru Monday 1st October), x2 cabins are reserved, a £20 deposit will secure your place.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


Day2 with Toons & co had us scheduled for the red route at Dalbeattie, just around the corner from our lodges (afterwards we found the trail came pretty close to our accommodation down at Sandyhills).

At the start we found the trail builders have generously given riders the choice of taking easy routes around short technical sections - quite unusual. The start (and end) comprises a long, gently twisty but thankfully wide board walk crank through a couple of boggy sections before a steady fire road blat up to the splendid panoramic views atop Moyle Hill. After yesterdays full on technical climbing the fire road was a welcome sight for some.

Heading off around the hillside (site of an old fort) the technical sections start to come at ya. At one point you're concentrating on a techni chute then to be confronted with a wide, open, long drop and Jenni's "whoop"n grin said it all ;) Some enjoyed it so much that they gave it another bash - actually the trail proper cuts back to your right, which was pretty sweet too.

Once around the hill you then get to see the rocky top to the "Slab" which Toons and DDave tackled whilst the rest of us zipped around to checkout the large granite slab that followed. Our dare devils took a half slab along with Darren while us XC peeps pondered their sanity :p

Plenty more lovely singletrack takes you to the Terrible Twins, two slabs separated by a ledge which everyone sensibly bypassed.

Compared to our previous outing at Kirroughtree this trail flowed a little better with a few less technical interruptions, although they still focused your attention. However, as the miles past by tired riders began to make mistakes over obstacles they'd normally clear. Thankfully no major injury's were sustained - just a few bruises and scrapes to attract the midges (thanks Uphilla!).

The final section undulates it way towards some serious obstacles should you choose the "black" options but all were happy to ride by on the easy bits and gawp at the difficult sections. The new Log On/Off section is intimidating but nothing compared to the fearsome Volunteer Ridge. One final, ridable highlight was a long and low log which most managed to wibble their way across.

All in all another great trail that would be great to have locally. Brumster, Baggy, Roger and I all gave it another bash on Monday morning and riding the same trail again was a definite benefit - being faster and safer. I even managed to find a few more alternate black runs, for another trip perhaps ?! While on point Roger managed to endo his rig yet somehow landed on his pins and didn't sky dive over the edge. However he did manage to mashed a brake lever, curtailing his riding for a while.

Darn it, I wish I was back up there.

Route; Tracklog
Weather; dry, overcast with sunny spells
Posse; Baggy (XTC), Brumster (Liquid), Chris (Inbred), Darren (Cannondale), DDave (Cameleon), Farqui (5Spot), Jenni (Cotic), Les (Hardrock), Rich, Roger (FSR), Toons (5Spot), Uphilla (5Spot)
Mechanicals; Toons drive train locked up - traced to a loose chain ring bolt (or two).

Saturday, May 12, 2007


After we all fought our way north thru rain and Friday's traffic we all met up north of the border at Barend Holiday village and no one was more pleased than I to find that our lodges were tip top.

Saturday could have started better but everyone managed to find their way north west to Kirroughtree where Toons and his northern posse dropped in to swell the ranks.

This route is quite unusual in that one trail (red) takes you from the trail head out to pick up another (black) before rejoining (red) back to base camp. Once rolling, it soon became clear that these trails started as they meant to go on with single track all the way with the odd tricky section to entertain. The technical terrain was pretty intense and it took this "flat lands" rider a good while to settle in. So much so that I baulked at quite a few sections but my lack of bruises confirms my tentative start was correct ;)

The mighty odd McMoab that just a few of us attempted was the most weird terrain I've ever come across. It was difficult to pick a line and even more difficult to keep going, the pictures and videos just don't do it justice. The lumpy, moon like terrain continually sucks up both wheels making restarts very difficult. It's more of a trials section that requires 100% concentration and commitment, which only DDave managed to bobble his way through. Our ballsie rider even committed to the final signature drop off of this nightmare section.

The overall mileage is no indication of how tiring this relentless route was and by halfway the big "Heartbreak Hill" took it's toll on many a rider. However the steep climb was well worth the effort as the long twisty Talnotry Hill section back to the A712 was a gem. Btw, the drive between New Galloway and Newton Stewart is fantastic and highly recommended should you get the opportunity.

The likes of Hissing Sid, Jabberwocky and the Twister sections were intense and very demanding on tiring legs. Fortunately the trail gradually developed into a rolling finish which might have been welcome for the pins but seemed something of an anticlimax to an otherwise full on trail. However, this is a cracking trail that demands all of your attention all of the time and I quite agree with Toons that it's better attempted on fresh pistons. Although some may have found it a little "bitty" I thoroughly enjoyed it. The views and variety of vegetation along it's length were quite magical.

Tin topping it back to the cabins, Rob then somehow decided to ignore the possibility of another days fab riding and jumped behind the wheel to hoof himself back south. 18hrs north of the border was all our "home boy" managed. Meanwhile the rest of use freshened up and refuelled in preparation for another day in hills.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all my good riding buddies and pals for making such a commitment to join me a long way from home. You all helped make a wkend's riding even more enjoyable and I hope y'all thought it was worth it...

Route; Tracklog
Weather; Dry, overcast with sunny spells.
Posse; Baggy (XTC), Brumster (Merlin), Chris (Inbred), Darren (Cannondale), DDave (Cameleon), Drew, Farqui (5Spot), Jenni (Cotic), Les (Hardrock), Rob (Flux), Rich, Roger (FSR), Toons (5Spot), Uphilla (5Spot)
Mechanicals; Roger snapped his chain. Brumster and Rob both experienced slow punctures (tubeless and tubed).

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

7Stanes - Are You Ready ?

Posse, if you've not counting down the days in your diary then we're less than two weeks away from another weekend of some serious knobbly fun.

Dosh; Thanks to all those peeps that have settled their balances, my bank account is breathing a sigh of relief. Those of you that haven't paid you'll be sleeping under the stars :p If you missed my last update, we've managed to fill both cabins on the Saturday night - that's 16 bodies...eek.

The updated, on-line Cost/Ride Info spreadsheet can be found here.

Keys; With regard to the cabins, I've received confirmation from the owners and they'd like someone to arrive and collect the keys between 16:00 and 18:00 on Friday 11th. Chipmunk and I will be setting off at around 14:00 and given the Friday traffic I doubt we'll arrive before 18:00. Therefore, I be calling around y'all to see if anyone is likely to get there before 6pm otherwise I'll need to make alternative arrangements.

Cabin directions are; ...from Dumfries take the A710 (signposted Solway Coast). After approx 18miles you will drop down to the crossroads at Sandyhills (there is a car park on the left). Turn right here and in about 400 yards turn right into Barend Holiday Village and follow signs to reception.

Cabin website; Thistle Lodges.

Food/Beer; You know the drill by now so this time I'm opting for a "fend for yourselves or go hungry/thirsty" approach. I've no idea what facilities are nearby so you'd be advised to arrive with more than just a single Mars bar ;)

Routes; Toons, our northern rep, has provided us with some useful guidance for which trails to ride and when - see the spreadsheet link above. Cheers pal, let's hope you've made the right choices and that the posse don't "revolt" on ya's ;-)

See ya's there folks...