We had a visitor this weekend – Sir Jaggy, Lord of York (formerly of Hull). Jaggy has long been a filthy commuting roadie, but recently decided to give this mountain biking malarky a go. After briefly toying with the idea of getting a entry level/mid-range hardtail to start off with, he instead decided to get a Cannondale Prophet, and sallied forth TO THE HILLS!
First up this weekend was Llandegla. Unfortunately Llandegla was a bit of a let down – maybe it was because of the trail conditions, or maybe I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind, but it just didn’t seem as…fun as the last few times I’ve been. On the plus side, I rode up all of the initial climb without stopping, but this had the unfortunate and unexpected effect of making me extremely dizzy when I stopped.
First bit of trail was pretty much as I remembered it, but the next section (where the red branches off from the blue) was utterly battered. It’s been extensively deforested, and the trails have suffered as a result. You expect there to be felling in a working forest, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen trails made as utterly barren as here.
The drainage was terrible on this section – huge puddles, streams running down the trail, waterfall-like torrent running off the side of the hill. The forestry vehicles had cut through parts of the trail, and the gouges were filled in with sticks and forestry debris. It was a bit surreal riding along with a JCB moving about right next to the trail. Jaggy and Mr Toast, bless them, actually lost the trail at one point.
I was a bit shocked, because obviously I’d been there a few months earlier. There’d been a bit of deforesting then, but it had been expanded – I didn’t recognise the smooth northshore section. Even when riding up it. I remembered that bit as being good fun zipping through the trees, but it was now in the middle of a pretty desolate landscape, and didn’t seem to ride as well.
The two woody descents were really nice, and bloody good fun, but then it was another climb. The new section was also nice, very fast and very smooth, with some really odd off-camber bits with pipes running underneath. I was holding my own surprising well, overtaking a few people, keeping pace with others.
I rode the first part of the bobbly northshore, went straight onto it without hesitation. Unfortunately the chap in front stopped, so I had to stop, and then I couldn’t get momentum and start off again. I ended up walking the rest. 🙁 I don’t blame that chap though, he probably saved me a painful and messy fall into the bog! Still, it’s a start!
I got around at a fairly reasonable pace – I sent Mr Toast and Jaggy off to be all manly and over-competitive, but I apparently arrived at the café fairly shortly after they did. Jaggy had had a close call with some jumps, but just about managed to keep control of the bike. What a hero! He actually did nauseatingly well – the combination of roadie fitness, beginner’s enthusiasm, a lack of fear (or common sense?) and ‘healthy’ competition with Mr Toast makes a formidable combination.
Unfortunately, he wasn’t too impressed with Llandegla, feeling that the singletrack on offer wasn’t enough reward for the sheer amount of climbing on fireroads. This time around I was inclined to agree with him.
Trail: The red route
Highlights: Singletrack through the forest, doing the initial climb in one go
Bad bits: Battered, water-riddled deforested start, doing the initial climb in one go
Post ride food snaffled: Orange and lemon cake and a cup of tea. Mr Jaggy made awesome meatballs in the evening (not a euphemism)
Good dogs seen: Two filthy but sweet trail mutts.