Saturday was the last bike ride of my twenties. Oh my. To bid farewell to the passing of my youth and welcome in the inexorable tide of middle-age, we ventured further afield than usual to Llandegla.
It was a lot more enjoyable this time around – the start of the red, which had previously been fairly battered by a combination of forestry operations and heavy rain, had been repaired and was fairly speedy going. Strangely it was a lot rockier than I remembered – I think I still remember our first visit to Llandegla where everything was pretty much butter smooth. I caught my pedal on rocks a couple of times, which means that either I need to look where I’m going more, or I need to increase the pressure in my rear shock…
Rather pleasingly the climb up gets easier each time we go there – to put it in perspective, the first time we went to Llandegla I had to stop a couple of times before we even got to the grouses, whereas this time around it was our one and only stop. Well, you’ve got to take pictures, haven’t you?
Went around fairly speedily, and even managed to ride most of the Not Shore section – didn’t manage the start, but got on and started a bit further up and rode the rest of it. It just requires a bit of oomph to keep momentum over the logs, but not so much that you can’t take the corners. Exited it feeling a bit smug, and fairly confident that I’m close to doing the entire thing.
There are things I love about Llandegla, I things that niggle me slightly. I love the feeling of speed you can get there, swooping through the forest, around berms and over rollery jump type things. So many of the sections are fast and flowy fun. However, there’s a good chunk of downhill fireroad, which seems a waste after all of the climbing, and we somehow managed to completely lose the end of the red route somewhere around the pump track, and ended up getting back to the cafe via the car park. :/ It seems a bit churlish to complain about such issues though, especially when the trailbuilders have obviously put in a lot of work fixing the start back up, and adding a pump track and skills loop, and the rest of it is such good fun.
I ran out of energy towards the end of the afternoon slightly, due to having only eaten Weetabix and half a bacon sandwich. I did try and have a flapjack before setting out, but the ones in the cafe contained stealth banana, therefore rendering them inedible, on the grounds that banana is the fruit of Satan. Mr Toast ate it though.
After a swift cup of tea and some Jaffa Cakes, we headed up to the skills loop. There were a few kids there with AWESOME SKILLS, who seemed rather bemused by the height of our saddles. Whilst they fearlessly threw themselves over the skills course at great speed, I gingerly approached the drops section.
The skills course is graded in the same manner as a lot of freeride and downhill courses, with a system of three dots. One dot is easy, two is harder, three is hardest. Naturally, being a massive pansy, I approached the one-dot drops with a sense of trepidation. But they were actually quite easy – I think some of the stuff on the Monkey has toughened me up a little. After a bit of gentle encouragement from Mr Toast, I took the two-dot drops as well – which truth be told, didn’t seem that much bigger than the last drop of the one-dot drops. I didn’t try the three-dot drops though, they didn’t really look overly rollable!:P
The berms section was easy to ride, both one and three-dot sections. I guess the actual difficulty arises from riding them lightning fast. I dropped the saddle for the jumps (one-dot) – I’m still incapable of jumping intentionally – probably because I’m trying to jump and not jump at the same time.
Anyhoo, I predict that I meekness will recede slightly as my Kyle Strait knee armour has now arrived, which will increase my skill levels by four hundred and eleventy percent. Undoubtedly.
Trail: Red route and skills loop
Highlights: Fast flowy singletrack. Doing the TWO DOT drops.
Bad bits: Trying to pagger it up a hill and knackering myself for the rest of the trail
Post ride food snaffled: Jaffa cakes and a cup of tea
Good dogs seen: A friendly trail labrador, and… a chihuaha