First things first – I won at Pirate Golf. Huzzah!
Went to Dalby today and really enjoyed it. The previous times I’ve been to Dalby it’s been a bit…meh. Nice enough, but I’d find it’d outstay its welcome after a bit. Today was great though – I don’t know whether it was because I was on my own bike for the first time (the previous times I’ve hired Konas with the stiffest…forks…ever…), or whether it’s because…I actually did some of the red route.
I’ve got to admit, I was bricking it slightly. The only red route other than Follow the Dog I’ve ever been on is Llandegla, and I was riding with Mr Toast. Both of those reds are known for being a touch on the easy side, and here I was, galumphing onto a ‘proper’ red, on my own. I didn’t do a huge amount by any means, but I’m chuffed with what I did do – it highlighted again how much I’ve come along since I’ve started.
My route took in bits of the green, blue and the red, as loving illustrated on the map below – my route is marked in yellow, going clockwise.
We started off at Dixons Hollow, and I took the green route for a good while. The green route actually starts with a nice little bit of friendly singletrack, complete with berms – it reminded me a bit of the skills loop in Glentress. After that, it was a rocky surfaced bit of track to the normal fire roads. Following the instructions from a chap on Bike Radar (cheers Matt!) I got to post number 26. I took a deep breath, and hit the red.
And…it was awesome. It boosted my confidence to realise that yes – I can actually ride new red routes without stopping every twenty seconds in sheer panic. I found myself tackling stuff that I wouldn’t have dared to this time last year. For example, these log drops – they’re not huge, by any stretch of the imagination, and your average mountain biker would probably scoff at them even being regarded as an obstacle. But for people who are new to the sport/lacking in confidence, they can be pretty intimidating – as the sludged up section around the side where people have chickened out demonstrates! 😉
I think it was section 28 when I had my first real ‘WTF’ moment – there’s a steep descent, with huge berms making the track zig-zag down the hill. One of these berms has a big rock in the middle of it – being a bit inept, I couldn’t really see what line I could ride down safely, so I’ll confess to a bit of shuffling down that one bit. The rest of the berms were of similar size and gradient, but were so much friendlier as they didn’t have big rocks sticking out of them. I had a little giggle as I rode down them, remembering the bowl berm on Follow the Dog. It’s taught me well.
‘WTF’ number two came on…I think it was the following section, it might have been the one after. Basically, there’s a big drop (by my standards, it’s over a foot!) after a corner. Valuing both my bike and the integrity of my limbs, I walked down that bit too. I decided to give the red a bit of a rest after that, as I was worrying that there might be more of that sort of thing, and I bailed on post 33. I headed up the hill to the blue, and ended up at the start of section 26 of the red again. Hooray for my complete lack of navigation skills – still, it wouldn’t be a trip to Dalby if I hadn’t gone completely the wrong direction at least once!
I followed the blue back the Purple Mountain cafe, and ate cake. Delicious, delicious cake.
Then it was back onto the blue – the start of the blue is shared with the red, and I’d forgotten how bloody knackering it was. It’s odd that the rest of the blue is very similar to the green (fire roads ahoy!), but that the start is so gruelling by comparison. Or maybe I’m just rubbish at switchback climbs. Well, there’s not really any ‘maybe’ about that…
Took the blue a fair way, and rejoined the green to head back to Dixons Hollow. Good day all around! \o/
Trail: Green, blue, and sections 26 – 33 of the red
Highlights: Getting onto the red
Bad bits: None really, although I bizarrey found the start of the blue after my cafe stop a bit hard going. Possibly because I’d gorged on cake and tea….
Post ride food snaffled: Went to the Purple Mountain barbecue with Mr Toast
Good dogs seen: Loads – a greyhound, a husky, numerous Jack Russells, lots of collies, a trio of border terriers, loads of labradors. All of which were looking expectantly at their owners whilst they ate food from the barbecue.