This forum uses cookies
This forum makes use of cookies to store your login information if you are registered, and your last visit if you are not. Cookies are small text documents stored on your computer; the cookies set by this forum can only be used on this website and pose no security risk. Cookies on this forum also track the specific topics you have read and when you last read them. Please confirm whether you accept or reject these cookies being set.

A cookie will be stored in your browser regardless of choice to prevent you being asked this question again. You will be able to change your cookie settings at any time using the link in the footer.


Thread Rating:
  • 0 Vote(s) - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
My Afan Trip
#1
My first trip to Afan....can't wait to go back despite being rather battered by the weather! This will bore a lot of you as you have been before but I have written it to share with people I know who haven't been  Smile

I drove down to Bristol on the Friday morning to see an old Uni friend. Went and had a nose in a couple of bike shops, the new carbon Blur XC was giving me issues, had an excellent pasta in the evening then went and saw Star Trek which was quite good despite the fact I hate everything Star Trek in general and it had no women in heh.

Saturday morning I left there and went onto Afan and on the way I was violated by a man just inside Wales when I had to hand over £5.40 for the pleasure of entering his country! I arrived at the visitor centre and suffered some confusion as there was so much going on heh, bikes everywhere so I had a brief walk to calm down.  Tongue  I then got some Zesty love from some other riders as I was assembling it then asked about three different people where the trails were. Eventually I found them at the other side of the car park and was setting off to do The Wall when I thought my head was a bit breezier than usual.....so I went back to get my helmet!  :o

resim

Straight into singletrack then across the road by the campsite there then into more singletrack, oh the grin on my face, it was like this  ;D The ground was wet as it had been raining on and off. I had some more initial confusion with the signing which continued for the rest of the ride as some of the signs were too small, also I was planning to do a route called The Wall but couldn't find it and did one called The Wal which seemed quite good  Big Grin  Tongue  this track went on the flat for quite a while then started the long fireroad climb I had heard about but I was still grinning, this eventually turned to a normal expression then a frown when I asked another rider how far it was and he said oh, quite a way yet, bugger! Once I got into more singletrack however the grin soon came back! Found an interesting trail diversion at one point!

resim

Luckily the on/off rain had pretty much gone and resulted in blue skies and a nice temperature with some great views up the top

resim
resim

I had such a terrible memory that I struggle to remember the day before, let alone trails I was seeing for the first time. I do recall the bit called the Graveyard being great and I did have a wry smile at its name. I then started Zig Zag which I was flying down until I flatted

resim

One swift change later and I was on my way again and that bit was great, took a couple more photos on the flat bit before getting back to the car. I went and bought a couple more tubes from the bike shop, scoffed a sandwich then set off to do Penhydd. I though the start of The Wall was bad enough going up that fireroad but Penhydd was possibly worse. This wasnt helped by my right hamstring which has given me tons of issues in the past starting to moan a bit near the end of The Wall so I was having to stand up a bit on Penhydd and compensate with the other leg. After what seemed like 3 times the distance of the Tour de France I arrived at what I thought was the top, the thing that kept me going on both of these early climbs was the logic that if im going up now, I will be going downhill later!

resim

Sadly after one bit of singletrack it was more climbing then after some flat I found myself at the bottom of Ridge too Far, bugger me it looked evilly steep and long heh, I refused to stop though and rode up it at which point the rain started quite badly. It was all worth it though as the Hidden Valley and Sidewinder were great. The downhill to the river crossing was brilliant and I let out a couple of loud "Woop's" on the way down which probably sounded quite g@y to the group of riders standing just the other side of the crossing  :B  I waited for them to go then set the camera up for...

[media width=500]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q63ZNZOuRfM&fmt=18[/media]

The last bit down to the visitor centre was fun as well. I sat on the Clio's boot sill munching some food when the heavens really opened!! It was actually hailing and got worse!

resim

[media width=500]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYcgvWNnyXM&fmt=18[/media]

I waited for it to stop then packed the car up and set off to Glyncorrwg and the campsite/trail centre.

resim

I then put the tent up. I am physically incapable of putting a tent up without drinking beer at the same time. Decided to use my guide rope things for the first ever time judging by the wind..

resim

After sitting on the boot sill reading for a while still in my riding gear, I eventually found out that the toilets/showers had two doors and only one was locked  Tongue so I got cleaned up then went to the Cafe and had a rather excellent Pizza with Chili Con Carne on it and quite a few beers. I had hoped this would help me pass out in the tent as I have enough trouble sleeping in a normal bed let alone in a sleeping bag in a tent but no....nodded off everynow and then but it was quite cold and I ended up getting dressed and having a hat on! I did finally get some sleep but was woken up by the wind, at one point I had to grab the tent as I thought it might take off! I waited for the rain to pretty much stop then wandered out of the tent to find just how much it had been hailing!

resim

Convinced it was midday for some reason (my phone was flat so wasnt sure), I went and sat in the car which revealed it was infact 7.30am and 3C, no wonder I had been cold, wonder how low it was in the middle of the night!! I sat in there reading and listening to the radio until a bit after 9 when I went and nosed in the bike shop then up to the Cafe for a bacon buttie (more like a wedge!) then started getting ready to ride Whites Level.

I thought the start to the other two had been bad but this was something else  :o  pretty much 4 miles of uphill rocky singletrack and it had started chucking it down again. Initially my legs were going  :'(  ??) but then something weird happened. It was a bit like when I did Cwmcarn years ago, I actually started enjoying the uphill as it was a technical challenge in those conditions to keep going without dabbing and I didn't. I seemed to be flying up there as well, for me anyway, im not a climber but I overtook quite a few people! One overtake was a bit annoying as I had been enjoying the view of her lycra for a while ahem but she pulled over so I could go past Tongue

I then popped out into the open with paths going off everywhere. I saw a big group setting off to the left so asked them if that was the Black Run and they replied yes. I see why Dawg missed it as I didn't see any signs there. I set off round the first couple of fun bends then it went flat and straight which was a bit odd but then I arrived at the proper start. Fun! and bumpy! I completely bottled the steepest bit near the end and walked down it like a no good rambler before getting back on for the last few bits Sad :'(  

I then had the long fireroad to climb back up. Up untill that morning I hadn't seen another Lapierre despite Dawg saying they were everywhere heh but I had spotted a Zesty 314 and 514 in the car park and then they rode past me on the uphill followed by another 514! We exchanged brief words as I let (ahem) them pull away from me. When we got to the top we had the first unofficial Zesty Appriciation Society annual meeting  Tongue Big Grin Turns out one of them worked in a bike shop that sells them and they were all part of a club and quite a few of them had them. They set off and I went to rig the camera up and another bloke came and talked to me about mine as he was thinking of getting one! I then went off to do the Black Run a second time. I needed a breather halfway down and cruised for a while and then I bloody bottled that steep bit at the last second  >Sad all I could see was the wet slick rock and the potential for carnage. If I had been using my flats or if it had been dry I think I would have done it. This video is as it came off the camera, I haven't bothered to deshake it so its a bit jerky

[media width=500]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpDVZwNCqFo&fmt=18[/media]

The rain was getting really bad now but I still had a blast along Windy Point. I had fitted the rear mudguard that morning to try and keep some water off but I think even riding into one of the fishing lakes would have been drier than the rain!

resim

I wasn't expecting the trail to be quite so harsh surface wise. Yes I knew it was going to be rocky but this was quite obscene. A couple of times across all three trails I had to stop and rest my wrists, too much PC use sigh, not helped by the fact I cannot get my forks working as I want. The rear of the bike is faultless but the front is either too soft and it blows through the travel or too harsh and buggers my wrists. Sections like the start of Energy were great but I can't help think they would be even better and quicker if they were a bit smoother. I did like when it went into narrow semi boardwalk through the forest, I had to shout "Wake up!" at one point aimed at myself after I brushed two tree's with a shoulder!!

The last two bits were a bit of a blur to be honest. The rain was so bad and wearing glasses which were steaming up meant I couldnt see much! I recall the open Goodwood (iirc) section being fun though. Other than the flat on The Wall and fork setup issues, the only other problem were with my brakes. They had been amazing up until about halfway round Whites when the rain took its toll and they just turned into noise generating devices which didn't seem to offer much if any braking ability, this coupled with the lack of sight was quite dodgy! Next time I go I will take some alternative pads just incase it rains again. Once down onto the cycleway I practically sprinted flat out back to the campsite due to the weather. I was still full of energy, god knows what was in that Pizza topping the night before and my right hamstring had been fine all day. Can't really see but I was 100% soaked at the end but I did manage to look stupid for the photo which is one of my best skills lol

resim

I went and had a shower to dry up then had a tough choice. I had originally planned on staying that night then going to Cwmcarn on the Monday to ride the XC and DH tracks. The rain was getting worse though and the wind was quite mad, so fast up the valley, the tent was moving all over the place and I knew there wasnt much chance of it surviving the night. Couple that with the fact my brakes were shot and the shop may not have had Formula pads, rain was forecast for the next day so I didnt fancy the DH course with limited visibility and I have done the XC before, I decided to call time then on my trip and come home early and save Cwmcarn for a drier visit! I literally chucked everything in the car, getting the tent down in that wind was interesting then went to the Cafe for some food before starting the long drive home.

resim

So although my trip was cut short, I still managed to do the three trails at Afan that I had planned to do. They were all great in different ways. The climbs on The Wall and Penhydd were a bit tedious but then you had great singletrack. I really want to do Whites in the dry and with better working forks. There were some lovely looking stone drop off bits which I mostly avoided due to the lack of sight/brakes/etc but would want to check them out closer next time. The bike was brilliant on the climbs and downhills just a bit jarring at the front, gears all perfect. Its so much better than the Turner. On that I always had to lower the saddle on the downhills but you don't need to on the Zesty as its a bit longer and I can move around it on it so much easier. I can imagine you would need to replace your entire drive train after about 10 days riding there though due to the grit, especially around Whites. It made a horrific noise earlier putting the seatpost all the way down. Clearly the day the seat post slot was being penciled in everyone was at lunch and the work experience kid ticked the box to put it rear facing! Tyres were perfect, the 2.35" Kenda Blue Groove up front was faultless, only brief slip was in some mud which was fine. Rear 2.1" XC Pro only slipped a couple of times on wet rock.

Here are the routes with elevation data, just look at the climbs at the start of them! My GPS is a cheap seperate thing coupled with an old phone so doesnt sample quick enough to provide accurate data especially on twisty tracks so the distance is a bit shorter than the actual length of the trails. I had taken new batteries for my Speedo but couldn't find them when there!

The Wall

resim

Penhydd

resim

Whites Level

resim
Reply
#2
Google Earth files. As mentioned above, my GPS doesn't sample that quickly so you never see all the twisty bits and instead its lots of straight lines, it is very twisty in real life!!

The Wall
http://complexdreams.com/docs/Afan%20-%20The%20Wall.kmz

Penhydd
http://complexdreams.com/docs/Afan%20-%20Penhydd.kmz

Whites Level
http://complexdreams.com/docs/Afan%20-%2...0Level.kmz
Reply
#3
definetly something i want to do when my fitness improves, dont think my fitness is up to it right now though :Smile.  are any of you guys planning an afan trip in the future ? would love to take along when my fitness improves  8)

looks like you had a great time despite the weather ... bet you was shattered though !
Reply
#4
I can't wait to go back although without rain heh and therefore maybe B&B cottage instead. Fitness wise, yes it was quite tough but I just pottered the climbs on the first day, no point killing yourself on them, save your energy for the downhills! On Whites im not sure what got into me but ive not climbed like that before, especially after a long ride the day before! My heart rate was lowish for me and I was actually sweating, normally im out of breath before that happens, weird! I only ride once a week normally though, im not fit compared to Andy/Nick etc by a long way.

Been ok today, 538 mile round trip in a small cramped car was probably worse on my legs heh, lazed around today before spending a considerable amount of time 10 minutes with every cleaning product and oil known to man splashing some water over the bike to clean it.
Reply
#5
Great report there breezer, I found whites climb more entertaining than all the others due it being mainly st. Sounds like you're a convert now.

What was pitching like at the camp site? Where fires allowed? And did you grab one of those grolsches?!?!
Reply
#6
We're going in 2 weeks Steve, can't wait. I would say you are fit enough for it. None of the trails are a race and they are something to enjoy uphill then attack downhill, tiring of course but I done it last year with a lot less fitness than I've got now. One thing I say to work on is arm n hand strength as 15mins of constant downhill hurts the arms n hands.

Maybe we should start discussing a mass sketchy weekender... Mmmm possibly nearer the end of the year near my 30th?!?!
Reply
#7
Pitching was fine, most plots were reseved but I couldnt find mine so they just said set up anywhere! Were some rocks which led to cursing but no more than most campsites ive been too. Showers were not that high pressure but hot which was the main thing. Go in No.1 as that seemed to last a lot longer. For my second one when I went in No.2 it ran out after I had applied shower gel, luckily I took a second 50p spare so wandered out to fire up another session else I would have been outside in the rain, "el natural", to get the soap off  Big Grin

I saw a couple of people having BBQ's so I guess so. Didnt see the big Grolsches, had lots of some foriegn beer but it was good. Food was excellent and good value.

Yes as mentioned above, I had to rest my wrists a couple of times and stretch the tendons on the inner side at the bottom of my hands, people going there on hardtails are foolish and thank god I didnt see anyone on a rigid bike else I would have had to slap them lol.
Reply
#8
My Clio may fall apart and has cost me loads since I bought it in repairs but at least its economical, bizarrely so for a 172bhp 2 litre normally aspirated petrol. It did 42mpg for the 538 mile trip and that was at 80 odd on the motorway most of the time and also a fair bit of thrashing around Bristol! It was helped a little bit by the long 50mph stretch on the M4 in Wales and them having speed cameras every 14 centimeters so I backed it off to 75!
Reply
#9
Really interesting write-up Breezer. ;D  Brought all my memories flooding back. 8)

BMJBOY----  Sounds like another acorn you're nurturing there Wink  (maybe an useful new thread)
Reply
#10
"BMJBOY" Wrote:We're going in 2 weeks Steve, can't wait. I would say you are fit enough for it. None of the trails are a race and they are something to enjoy uphill then attack downhill, tiring of course but I done it last year with a lot less fitness than I've got now. One thing I say to work on is arm n hand strength as 15mins of constant downhill hurts the arms n hands.

Maybe we should start discussing a mass sketchy weekender... Mmmm possibly nearer the end of the year near my 30th?!?!

whens your 30th ben ? doubt i could make it but would love to ride there, would happily pay for a sketchy member whos been there to be a guide round there as i would have to make a trip in the week ... who wants a 2 day job Tongue

EDIT : that last bit was serious just to let you know not my usual messing around self, would happily pay for B&B over night ,petrol money and a bit on top for there time
Reply


Forum Jump:


Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)