Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Black Mountain 'Killer'

This was supposed to be the antidote to the lack of riding in the wet summer, a date had to be picked out and I was being optimistic and hoping for a drier autumn. It did not happen, for once the forecast was spot-on – Periods of heavy rain, wind and low cloud.

Full marks to our small posse who turned up and did the ride regardless without complaint.

The advice is to allow 6 hours for the ride, which seems a lot for 23 miles, but when you see the terrain it starts to make sense.

We set off from the Castle Inn at Pengenfford and soon met our first tough climb and were off pushing up lose rocks. After skirting the base of the hills now towering above us we made a choice to push up y Grib rather than the steep rocky climb a little further round at y Das, thinking it might be easier in the wet. It was still a tough walk with the wind and rain cutting hard by the time we reached the top. Promised views were only briefly glimpsed through the wind blown cloud – we had already climbed 1000ft.
We were grateful to be cranking again across a moorland track and soon picked up the ‘proper’ route again and the long steady descent to Grwyne Fawr reservoir – this was welcome, but not easy in places with much lose rock and slippy ruts – it tested us all, but was great fun. This eventually brought us out in valley bottom with another ‘big hill’ looming over us – I think hearts may have been sinking a bit at this point, but up we went on forest fire roads thankfully zigzagging. The GPS then pointed us up a track to the right and once again we were off and pushing until we reached a remote and narrow hillside singetrack. Another short push brought to the top of Crug Mawr and the start of a brilliant downhill, well it would have been if it had not been for the conditions and all took it very easy this time :-(

The optional lunch stop at Llanbedr was not taken, the preference was to keep going this time. It was quite relief to be back on predictable tarmac for a while as we started the gradual ascent – the tracklog show this to last for 6½ miles in all. On a clear day it would have been a bearable with some great scenery, on this day it was a real slog at times. We passed a group carrying an injured dog back to civilization who wished us the best of luck as we headed ever upwards.
The wet and grime had taken its toll on Dozers chain by this point and all the lube had gone, luckily Farqui had packed some Purple Extreme and a quick squirt restored the gears sufficiently to get to the top.

Needless to say we were all weary by the time we got to the top and the prospect of a fast downhill blast was not that appealing, so we picked our way carefully down what would be challenging on a dry day and sensibly chose to dismount in places not wanting any last minute injuries. As the descent levelled out it did not get any easier with unrelenting lose rock to negotiate rattling our teeth all the way to the bottom!

What a relief to get back to the Castle Inn change into dry clothes and get into the warm bar for a much needed pint. Sadly the hot food we had also hoped for was not available.

What can I say? Well I am not sure about the others, but I am glad I did the ride and had a real sense of achievement getting round unscathed. It is a real ‘Killer’ loop as had been promised through some stunning, wild countryside. Sadly we did not get the views promised. On balance, one to do in better weather, but picking the right time would be more luck than judgement this year.

Posse: Dozer- Canyon; Farqui – 5-Spot; Pete – Cannondale Scalpel; Uphilla – 5-Spot
Mechanicals Dozer, chain suck?
Weather: Almost as bad as it gets.



Rob#2 said...

Sounds like a very tough ride!!

Not sure I'm itching to give it a go anymore but well done to all for braving the weather and resulting riding conditions. All that wet rock don't sound good to me!


uphilla said...

According to my South Wales contact "...you are officially hard bikers if you join us locals in riding when there is a bit of "dragon's breath" on the hills...." :-)

Farqui said...

Good lord, I actually managed a smile in one of those pic's ! Hehe, tx Uphilla for arranging this ride - I'm glad I did it, I think.

I guess the route would have been better had it been dry. And without a gale blowin'. When the clouds cleared the views were impressive.

The downhills surprised me as they were much like those in the Peaks.

I'm not sure that any of the climbs didn't involve a dab or hike-a-bike to the top. Unfortunately the hike's played havoc with my lower back. Oh and my calves'n'ankles. Long live the trail centres !

In my post ride cleanup I was surprised that my well worn pads don't need replacing - I think Dozer got thru a set. So well done Magura. Once I'd lowered the pressures a tad, my NNic's held up nicely on the slippery rocks and amongst the slimey mud.

After harbouring a sore throat for a few days before this ride I defo wasn't on form and I've since been struck down with the dreaded "man flu". Snif.

dahnhilla said...

Darn it, missed it.
Well when I get some more money I'd be well up for going there! From the videos and your pics, looked ripe for some sideways, foot out, flat out antics!

uphilla said...

I am sure there will be a chance to do it again, this ride has given me a real appetite for natural stuff. We have been so fortunate that most of our previous trips have been OK weather-wise.
Anyone for Penmachno before Christmas??

Farqui said...

A trail center ride ! - now you're talkin' :p

Are you thinking of another YH overnight/day trip ?

How's about the 1st wkend of Nov ?

uphilla said...

Will check out 1st weekend in Nov. Was thinking day trip again if possible - if we could get an early start could also take a peek at Llandegla, if only for the cafe! :-)