And another thing!

When I die, I want to be reincarnated as one of the little finches that lives around The Hub in Glentress.  The Hub does the best…cake…ever!  I can particularly recommend the Millionaire’s Shortbread and Chocolate covered flapjack.  The little finches were happily hoovering up any crumbs left behind, and looked thoroughly pleased with themselves.

I really want to go to Scotland again when the weather picks up, but it doesn’t look like we’ll get chance this year.  We were supposed to be going on a camping trip to t’other Stanes (Dalbeattie, Mabie, etc), but alas, work commitments has knocked that idea on the head.  Sadly we found this out a little too late into our holiday, we would have ventured westward to sample one of the others if we’d known earlier. 🙁

In Glentress no-one can hear you scream. Except for that guy.

We’ve returned from our annual pilgrimage to Glentress!  It was awesome, although slightly (and quite literally) dampened by the weather.  It rained solidly every single day except for our anniversary – however we were at the zoo rather than on our bikes.  There were bears.  Bears are awesome.

A sun bear, in the sun


On the days we spent at Glentress, it was exceedingly muddy, but still great fun.  The blue route in particular holds up well in the wet, whereas the red gets a little more slippy.  I found this out to my dismay as I came a cropper on a steepish corner on Pennel’s Vennel… which is the first section of the red.  Long story short, got over the first drop, took a line to the right when I should have gone left, and went barrelling down off the side of the hill, over the handle bars into a large pine tree.  To my credit, I managed to find time to scream loudly.

I was shaken rather than hurt, and a distraught Mr Toast came running to my aid – you’ve never seen a man in spd shoes run so fast!  I sat their sobbing for a bit, distinctly cross with myself.  Two chaps came down (one pushing his bike down) – apparently they heard me scream from the top of the section.  That must have been interesting for them…

That was pretty much all of the red I did sadly – given the poor weather I decided not to push my luck and stuck to the blue for the rest of our adventures, with some light dashes of freeride.

Despite my woeful performance on the red, I was still pretty chuffed with my progression.  This year I could not only get up the entirety of the Osprey carpark to Buzzard’s Nest carpark without stopping, I also did it three times in one day!  I also did a good chunk of the red obstacles on the climb up, all of the obstacles on the Admiral, felt a lot more comfortable going at speed and chasing Mr Toast, and the easiest freeride course from top to bottom, including the fly-off – which I didn’t even consider doing last year.  I also did stuff first time on the skills course that gave me a bit of grief last year… although I did fall off the long log skinny.  Oh dear.

I’m planning on doing a skills course sometime soon – although I’m sloooowly gaining in confidence, there are still very basic things that I’m rubbish at – lifting the front wheel, or any form of jumping, for example.   I’d like to tackle step up obstacles with a technique slightly more refined that charging into it full speed and hoping for the best.

03/07/10: Skin o’my teeth… no, wait, elbow

Still feeling somewhat fragile in the arm department, we headed off to Llandegla again.  Most of the scabs are pretty much gone, and it’s healed up pretty well – big patches of soft pink skin though!  My elbow graze was still oozing however, and the pharmacist recommended that I keep it covered up.  I ended up bandaging the entire arm – slightly overkill, but I didn’t want to expose the new skin directly to the sun, but also didn’t want to start irritating it with sun lotion.

After completely running out of energy on the last visit, I decided to make sure I was well-fed beforehand.  For the second Saturday in a row, common sense abandoned me and I decided that the best nutrition I could go for was a bacon buttie and chips.  To be fair, it is the best bacon buttie in the UK, apparently…

Set off and managed to do the entire 3 mile climb without a break – there was a brief stop for me to raise my saddle, but that was it.  Before we started the red/blue route however, I started to feel incredibly ill.  Some might deduce that a bacon sarnie and chips followed by a three mile climb in hot weather may have contributed slightly to my nausea.  After a couple of minutes I decided to sally forth.

On the plus side, the nausea retreated.  On the down side, my arm had sharp pains from the graze – I think it had oozed, made the dressing stick to it, then the vibration of riding the bike was pulling it up and down.  I got to the end of the section, tempted to forsake the red and just go down the blue (which I’ve never ridden before).  However, I decided to WTFU and carry on with the red, and I’m very glad I did.  The following section occassionally had me whimpering as I jarred my arm, but it seemed to sort itself out  by the time I got into the trees.

Absolutely flew round the red, a lot faster and smoother than last time, and I had a lot more energy (Thank You, Oh Noble Pig, Provider of Bacon).  The route split off into the red and black, and I was sorely, sorely tempted by the black but decided to leave it for next time – with a dodgy arm and Glentress a week away, I didn’t want any more mishaps.  Mr Toast however cheerfully sailed down it.  “I’ll meet you at the end, it meets up”.

Unfortunately Mr Toast had experienced a bit of a map reading fail.  The red and black do meet up again… eventually.  However, not knowing where I stood at the bottom of the steep fireroad climb, waiting. And taking pictures.

 Wait and Bleed

After chatting to some blokes who said that the black met up further up, I decided to carry on – Llandegla isn’t that big, and we’d both end up in the car park eventually!

I was quite chuffed because at this point last time I’d really run out of energy, but this time I felt great.  Carried on flying round, marvelling that yes, Llandegla red is a touch on the easy side (never needing to dismount? WTF?).  Does this mean I successfully rode the fabled Not Sure section?  Er, no – the start of it has been removed and there’s a bypass.  But yeah, if it had been there…*cough*

Rode the table tops this time, still rubbish at getting air though.  Towards the end I was trying to keep a close eye for markers, as last time we seemed to leave the trail early and ended up on the carpark.  This time around I took the blue back – not sure how you get back onto the red, or even if it’s possible at the moment.  Got back to the cafe dying for a drink, ended up also acquiring some flapjacks.  Mmm, nutrition!

Ride: Llandegla

Trail: Red

Highlights:  Flying around at speed, not falling off, not fluffing anything on the trail – not even fireroad!

Bad bits:  Feeling a bit over-baconed at the start

Post ride food snaffled: Half a flapjack

Good dogs seen: Quite a few – a boxer pup, some strange posh shih-tzu type things, except they weren’t hateful little beasts

Incidentally, the graze is currently crusty, but healing well (I think!).

Map of Joy: Volume II, Update II

Now with added Llandegla!  Bought a rather attractive RSPB pin badge of a flower – last year’s black grouse one is now pinned to my biking wallet.

My arm is healing up well, by the way, although the biggest graze is still oozing.  And iodine hurts. Still, nothing can dampen the raging excitement for Glentress!  Only a week away!