Neil and John from Red Kite Events took Gary, Jerome, Chris and myself on a guided MTB quarry tour of Crychan Forest to try out some new trail sections. I’ve been to Crychan forest a few times before – on a ride with Neil in Dec 2011, the Green Dragon event in March 2012, the Red Kite Devil’s MTB challenges in Sept 2012 and April 2013 plus the 2012 Real Ale Wobble.
I was told the night before to make sure I was “in brave mode” so I was expecting something interesting. Neil said that he was going to show us some new lines for the 2014 events.
I took bike B and lent Bike A to Chris since he’d done some gear damage on the previous day at the Real Ale Wobble. About half of the rear gears worked so I had a 2 x 5 set up. I had definitely made the right decision about taking bike A the previous day.
After the road climb and then a slog up to the radio mast we’d had some fun in the mud down to the main car park plus the descent to the river in the main woods. The first quarry that we visited didn’t look as bad as I had expected. A series of scree terraces lead down to the track below and we all made it down without drama.
We followed a few muddy tracks, passed a Sunday logging operator and approached quarry number two. “Where’s the line?” we asked.Neil pointed at the steep scree. “How do we get up there?” we asked. Neil pointed at the steep scree. John, Chris and Gary decided to watch whilst Neil, Jerome and myself climbed up the slope. It looked very steep – I’d estimate an angle of 30degrees. It looks like nothing in the photographs and videos but appears to be near vertical in real life.
I started off by pushing the bike and climbing up behind but that was too much effort. Neil had hooked his bike over his back. I hung my bike on my shoulder with my arm through the centre. The ground wasn’t entirely stable and I imagined the world of pain if I were to fall with my arm through the bike frame. I decided that slipping or falling were probably not good options.
After about ten minutes of climbing with rests we were deemed to be at the correct height. Neil spent a while preparing and then set off, hanging off the back of the bike. I was scared about the implications of falling and sliding but, at the same time, felt quite calm about giving it go. So I thought – when I was out on the slope I thought that maybe I saw an easier start a bit lower down. I walked down at least half of it, maybe more before feeling up to giving it a go. Once I was moving I discovered that with my weight right over a locked up rear wheel then it wasn’t actually too bad. Jerome did better than me – descending well over half of the slope. Whether he was fully in control is not so clear.
With that over we did a much smaller drop at the other end of the quarry and then rode back past the first quarry and on to a tricky descent to the river. I’d first ridden this back in Dec 2011. It’s a tight singletrack with some steep sections and rooty drops. With it being wet the wood had no grip at all…as I discovered.
After a quick detour via a final quarry we followed the bridleways back to Llanwrtyd.
I had 31km showing on the Garmin. My unwritten rule is that I have to cover at least 50km if I go out for a ride. So I tacked a bit of a classic Ale Wobble onto the route. I continued up the start climb and did the “Lava Flow” track to link into the final section. This went past a lot more quickly than I expected. It’s shown at the end of the video from the previous day. I then did a loop of the watery lane and the final descent. I made it back to the school with 49.2km showing so I added a short section of road to take me up to 50km.
Thanks to Neil for showing us around. The next event is the Red Kite Frozen Devil in Jan 2014.