Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Black Mountain 'Killer' Loop - Take 2

When the Afan weekend was planned I suggested to Dangerous that, if the weather was good, we could head North on the Sunday and ride the Black Mountain ‘Killer’ loop – we had talked about doing it in the past and I knew it might be some time before another opportunity came up.
Farqui, Dozer and myself had done the ride a while back, but on the chosen day the weather was poor with rain and low cloud. I was determined to do it again to experience the views and real sense of wilderness riding.
I had hoped to get an early start and take a break at the pub in Llanbedr, but in the end we did not reach the Castle Inn at Pengenffordd until well after 12, which left just about enough time to get round before dusk. The weather was perfect, clear, sunny, but not too hot.
After a trail centre riding this kind of terrain is a quite a contrast – be clear if you do this route there is some walking to be done and the hardest bit comes up very quickly – we chose what I suspect is the easiest option up Y Grib, long and slow, but we had the entertainment of watching gliders being dragged up and released as we trekked.
At the top there is a gentle upwards traverse to reach first descent which is all of 6 miles! Not easy in places as the track is very rocky, but as you reach the reservoir is gets easier and faster until you reach the road at the bottom with a big smile on your face.
The next climb is easier and mostly ride-able on forest fire roads. Just a couple of short pushes to get to the top of Crug Mawr. The descent from this peak is a Black Mountain favourite with fabulous views on a clear day and just when you think it is over there is a steep and tricky bridleway drop onto the road, great fun! It is at this point that you can divert to Llanbedr, but today we slogged on the road towards the next climb.
After our exertion at Afan our legs were not at their freshest today and at this point they were starting to run out of steam. We took a break and then got stuck in to the long grind in the remotest part of this ride. On a good day it is a climb that can be ridden to the top, but today we walked the last steep track. Fine views in all direction rewarded our efforts, the sun was still shining and ahead was another testing downhill on Rhiw Tramau – this one more technical than the others with some lose rocky sections and narrow hillside trails to negotiate before a final painful climb back to the pub car park.
A great route, but I did have a sense of ‘never again’ at the end, however after a few days I am already thinking about the next time and maybe with a bit more time to play with….There are quite a few more routes to try in this area too.
Tested on this trip: Silicone Grips, XT tubeless rims, Gold Lube, Aldi Soft Shell jacket. Grips, rims and jacket all worked well - The jacket in particular was perfect for this time of year keeping me just the right temperature. Gold Lube did not work so well and needed re-applying regularly.

Posse: DangerousDave: SC Chameleon. Uphilla: 5-Spot
Weather: Bright & Sunny autumn day
Mechanicals: None.


Dangerous Dave said...

Agreed that the lube was a bit rubbish. Think I'll stick to my Motorex stuff.

Route was epically awesome though. Incredible descents and fantastic views. Loved the genuine wildnerness feel - especially on that last climb... would love to do again.

Next time I'll take a full bounce so I can pin those DHs even more!

Rob#2 said...

Sounds like a must do ride...especially is such lovely conditions. I'd like to give it a go in the future.