The great north / south divide Wales odyssey carefully stitched together MTB styleee takes us to trail pastures new and old with amazing trail memories through the spine of Wales down and out the other side! A little short on numbers goats n chicks wise was filled by bags of ‘OMG!’, ‘f’me!’ and ‘how good was that!’
Day 1 – Antur Stiniog – wasn’t sure what to expect but having hit the DH runs the 6-inch travel bike just coped with the blue sprinkled with a little red. That’s not to say you can’t have bags of fun on the blue and push the limits, Anita can testify to that! Venture outside the realms of the blue and you most certainly need a big rig and need to be on your game – note to self to go back with the YT!
We found the ideal Guest House (Isallt Guest House, Festiniog) if not one of the best we have stayed at over the years, ticked all the right boxes. What a great place to come back to after an all seasons in one day DH adventure; awesome host, breakfast, juices, coffee, cake right in the town of Bleanau Ffestiniog.
Day 2 – Driving south down the spine of Wales past Coedy, to Machynlleth to hit the Cli-machx or should we say “ANTI-climax” ?! After and 11K ascent we were all excited and ready for the 4K technical whaaahoo descent and it was closed – no mention of it at the start! Kinda narked you off a bit then to top it off the bike shop had gone out of business and lunch was in the soap dodgers, pot smoking, Greenpeace activist, basil brush eaters paradise! Anita was in Veggie heaven.
Onwards and southwards past, Rhayader, Caersws scene of some past DH memories, Builth Wells and what was then Merida events and bugger me were in the Forest of Dean!
Winter sun! Dry dusty trails! All day descending! Spanish portions of spirits with my wife; doesn’t get much better.
Hooking up with Darren from Lavatrax Tenerife, after all these years since first meeting him doing our MTB coaching badges back in 2006 I’m scratching my head as to why I left it so long to ride here!!! Darren has crafted some awesome technical trails and considering we didn’t even start at the top of Mount Teide due the roads being closed due to ice we still descended on average 34K a day. In parts, it reminded me of Switchbacks but on steroids and for most parts you needed to be on your game ride wise, but testament to Anita she gave it a go and at times was outside her comfort zone and doing the first day with rear brake failure is a “hats off to ya baby, hi-fives”.
From 2000m past the cloud line, through pine forests, into cat litter style looseness, rock fests, lava sculptured ruggedness, to slick lava flow slabs, wasteland dumps n scrub land into Mos Espa pod racing territory it had it all. The trails are awesome and even linking bits together with some tarmac high-speed shenanigans before lunch n cafe con leche made it days to remember, oh and afters, the afternoon descending down to the coast for well-earned beers or G&T’s seem to be the order.
Great trails, great digs, great people, great weather just need to get you lot out there…until next time eh, c’mon you know you want to!
For some a second bite at the cherry for others a new experience, the Reservoir Chicks hit the French Alps just prior to season opening. The break had a double edge as newly located friends Mr Photo, Steffi and not forgetting baby Monty had left the drain of Blighty to open a business, Alpine-Highs, in Morzine and Avoriaz so this was the first time the Chicks and Goats had got to pop out to see them and offer some moral support and give Dave an excuse to get out on the bike.
For me it was my second experience so I knew what to expect; the vastness, the silence, the chair lifts, the descents – a snap shot of life less ordinary. For Miss Shifty on the other hand this was going to be all new on a very BIG scale. The plus side was none of the lifts where open; “you say plus?” This opened the door to seeing the Alps in a whole new eau natural way with Mr Photo securing a van to do some lift assists up to places you would not go on the bike without local knowledge. The one day we got when the Le Gets lift was open we made our day of bedding in and getting the eye in. It was as expected but with a few bonus sections that only locals knew adding to the days downhill, alas one of the Goats had a big off and really damaged his arm and shoulder. The off piste trails tested me let alone Miss Shifty who must have thought what the hell did I let myself in for, if mountains were a lettuce it was a big slap in the face with one. It’s something you have to experience as being told about this place just doesn’t do it justice or allow you to appreciate the vast scale of things. But we endeavoured and as much as some sections scared the hell out of us we dug deep and gave them a go as best we could. Tested, most defiantly, exhilarated oh yes, the week was just an unbelievable experience, great trails, awesome scenery, great friends, so much so some of us are going back to tackle the 2013 Pass Portes du Soleil … go Shifty !!!
The long awaited Goats n Chicks mates race series was on the cards, with the TAG Timing system tried and tested the date was mutually agreed over a many a mail, text and Sunday post ride coffees. August bank holiday was going to feel like an extra special stolen day more so when your out on your bike.
Mr Bikes & Miss Kipling looking after all things Hi-tech including pencil & pad, plus keeping the troops in order as the excitement built Morpheus was on BBQ duties and Mr Goat providing the race plates, Mr photo inevitably taking snaps of the day.
The crew Mr Spesh, Mr Builder, Mr Goat, Mr shorts, Mr Whistler, Mr Wheezie, Mr Morph, Mr Photo, wild card Weedon Steve & Miss Smiles the only female presence.
First section up the Time Triangle just to burn those legs in, followed by section 2- Ginger & Big Dipper sections linked in with a lung busting, leg burning, sweat inducing, lip-smackin’ climb more so when the clocks ticking, it was here that Mr Builder blasted an unassailable lead, that would last out the day. Section 3 – the longest of the day – Roots & Transition swiftly followed by the section 4 the Jamster DH run & finally the Empire Strikes back DH run to blast the day away.
Back to base for much awaited Morpheus burgers, with more French sticks than a French mans bread bin, and a selection of fine much awaited beers to crown off a glorious day, the weather was good the racing was good the company was fantastic as was the food n drink you just can’t ask for more, “Or Can you ?”