Saturday, September 29, 2007

Afan, July

Anyone who's ridden from Afan "ponds" will know about the lengthy climb that starts the trails. It's a near perfect technical ascent that has plenty of technical combinations to keep to focused and entertained during the 6km winch to the summit. I'd forgotten just how steep the first 1km or so is and was very grateful my pins could back off the gas a little as the trail eased off a little. As you haul yourself up the valley you'll encounter plenty of switchbacks which in themselves provide a moments rest of the next bunch of boulders you'll have to navigate. Although it's a tree lined slope you wouldn't know if when you're riding up as your eyes are continually focusing on the next rock or even rocky overhang. Thankfully our knobblies all seemed to have loads-a-grip on the slightly damp rocks from the overnight rain and I for one was amazed at just how well mine were able to bail me out of more than one "wrong gear" situation. Damn it's a fine climb.

At the misty summit we all regrouped and prep'd ourselves for the Dozer bustin' black run which starts with a series of cheeky banked turns hidden behind the trees. Picture the scene, we're all in the dark woods, Rob shoots off and all we can hear is a locked up knobbly...for ages, Farqui looks to DDave, DDave looks to Farqui;
  • Farqui: "is that Rob ?"
  • DDave: "hmmm, sounds like he's cutting us a new berm!"
Anyhow, we all fire thru the berms and blast along a fire road to the start of the black run proper where you're greeted with an undulating section of raise board walk. Both R2 and I got caught out on the slippery chicken wire covering when try to remount mid section but thankfully these "incidents" were at ground zero :p The trail then flows sweety around the hilltop and we all knew that the grand finale was getting closer. At a fair ol'lick I approached a rocky drop only to find Rob's brain bucket appear over a crest and him dismounted (but upright) in the middle of the trail, ohmy Rapid application of the brakes took me off-line and close to the point of no return but my German stoppers once again saved my sorry a$$. Last year we had a gaggle of queuing riders at this start of this "challenge" and so it was again this year. As Rob slithered around the obstacle on his pin's I hoofed back up the trail for attempt#2, at least this time I knew the line ;) "Tally ho" and whoosh down the drop, over the loose rocks, hook left on berm#1, right on berm#2 and start grinning ! As there's little/no vegetation here you can watch everyone make the run and I'm sure the antics of Rob & I gave the 1st bunch of riders a good chuckle. R2 made it around Dozers' shoulder breaking last turn although he did look like he was practising for next years gurnin' champs ! However, dopey Dozer dismounted at exactly the same point he fell at last year, which in turn ruined Les' line and both were then very nearly collected by another fast and thankfully more talented rider who managed to zip past the lumberin' moving targets without incurring any injuries.

Now had Dom mentioned that mrsDom was waiting back at the top of the climb, then we wouldn't have been waiting for her at the end of the black run, sorry for your chilly wait lass.

A couple of k's later Granada whisks you through the trees to the short cut option. Left and you take on the long fire road sections of the Skyline or right and you drop rapidly down a rocky trail that is best tackled with your common sense disengaged :)

Fast Forward, Joy Rider and Deadwood all follow in quick succession with more fast'n'furious knobbly action. During which Darren's increasing excitement of the long switchback descent was reaching feverish level's, which hadn't really subsided much since his 1st taste of it last year :thumbu

On with the final descent and I chased Rob thru the gate and followed him for a good long way. His increased speed DH was good to see and he was clearly enjoying his ol'Jekyll and the additional stability it offers over his Flux. Once the rocks started to increase he backed off a little and with me just feet behind him we charged down the rocky steps/drops (call 'em what you will). I was perhaps a little too close 'cos all I got to see was his rear tyre lofted airborne as he apparently pogo'd down on his front wheel :ohmy Perhaps a little shaken he then clipped a rock ran along the edge of a substantial drop for a good way before he managed to bring his antics under control. At which point he allowed me to pass as the switchbacks, boulders, tree stumps and drop and drop flashed by in a blur of Farqui. My new front bouncer performed so well and sucked up everything in it's path with such control that I hardly needed my stoppers. Instead I wrestled my monster bars and flicked my rig up over and around everything that lay before us. Some of the rocks were placed very nicely for some airtime although you have to take care as there's always another "test" a feet further along. Damn it's a fine descent.

OMG, how I love the ride. Each section offers a tantalising array of obstacles both up and down that make me wish I lived nearer...

Route: Tracklog
Posse: Darren (Heckler), DDave (Chameleon h/tail), Dom (Cannondale h/tail), Dozer (FSR demo), Farqui (5Spot), Les (Rockhopper h/tail), Rob (Flux), R2 (Canyon XC), Sicknote (Rockhopper), Uphilla (5Spot), Zena (Fuel EX)
Mechanicals: Dozer's demo rig developed play in the rear wheel and cassette plus skipping gears towards the end due to a twisted chain link - I guess he was struggling with SRAMy's :p
Weather: overcast, low clouds, remained dry albeit a misty


Rob said...

Man that was close!! My clench is only just beginning to release 2 days later!!

The ride starts with a huruuuuge climb but somehow, it doesn't hurt, as Farq's says there's plenty to break the pain and much to lift the spirits, this is rewarding stuff right into the cloud. The descent is a....

Fantastic trail, one of the finest anywhere but beware, the momentum builds up very quickly and there are a few edges, I found one, took a really close look, too damn close for my liking. A moment to repack my breakfast was required!!!

Farqui said...

It was a great shame about Chekov/Jenni having to leave without turning a knobbly :(

Hope you get better soon pal.

dozer said...

No comment on the black run! I'll attack it next year on a bike I have ridden for more than 6 km :-)
Enjoyed the downhill, I missed this one last year, shame the back wheel was moving around a little, but at least the rear bouncer was still working at this point. I had R2 on my tail most of the way down, he didn't seem to want to come past though, cant have been a pretty view for him :-)

dahnhilla said...

Well first off, I must apologise if I wasn't my usual fit chirpy self!

But my god some awesome riding - I love Afan. I think I definatly prefer this place to Coed Y Brenin!

I've never:
doubled up
plowed through
dropped off
So much stuff in a "XC" ride in my life.
Completely confident in SPUDS now, just need to work on my fitness so I can enjoy the decents!!!!

I think I knew I was on it when I had set off in front of Lee, and had to wait a minute or so for Lee to catch up!

Thanks Lee once again for organising a top weekend of awesome trail riding!