Escaping reality for a long weekend, to go riding in north Wales with some mates
I seem to be constantly chasing my tail nowadays- 1.5 jobs, 1.5 houses and 1.5 workshops definitely take their time (and money). So its a rarity that I actually get out to play. Its even less common that I get out to play on one of the bikes that we spend so long building. Happily, the recent bank holiday weekend presented itself as an opportunity to build up my proper production-spec Ranger frame, and go to north wales to do some skids and wheelies!
The first hurdle was actually herding all of the necessary parts for my bike into one area, so that they could be put together- easier said than done, as they were spread between the shed, Frome, and wherever Dirt magazine had Burf’s Ranger stashed. After some hair loss, a bundle of text messages and phone calls and some running around (cheers Burf!), all of the necessary bits made their way to Jamie’s house in Trowbridge.
Next issue to arrive was some seriously funky bushings in Jamie’s forks. After a good bit of bashing, fiddling and swearing we realised that we could pop the forks from Burf’s Ranger on for the weekend…hopefully. Unbelievably, despite needing a maxle, different brake adaptor and change of headset, everything went together perfectly. It was already 1 o’clock on Saturday morning though, and alarms were set for 5.45…yawn.
We arrived in tune and on time at Ant’s house in Bath at 6.30 to do some cat-herding…an hour or so later we bundled into our cars and set off. Next stop, services.
The rest of the day was occupied by cups of tea in cafes, and eyeing up expensive things in outdoor shops. None of us were really psyched for getting cold and wet quite yet, and the early morning seemed to be weighing particularly heavily on my shoulders.
Coed Y Brenin
Sunday was trail centre day- Coed Y Brenin to be precise. After a fair amount of cat-herding we set off round the blue loop. Straight off I couldn’t believe how good the Ranger was- until this point I had only ridden the heavyweight scaffolding-pole geometry testing mule which was 1.5kg heavier, and stiffer than, er, something very stiff. This frame though was a different beast, with its epic responsiveness and hooligan stability. I like it!
Fun times were definitely had, but lack of fitness was very apparent throughout the group! After a stop for eats less than 100m from the cafe (duh!) we had to choose our next target…we went for ‘Tarw Du’; the original. Straight out of the car park the trail was rad- natural, flowy, rocky and narrow. Jamie was steaming on ahead, and my saddle was up my bum because I hadn’t quite got to grips with that newfangled dropper seatpost thing…push the lever and sit down was all I needed to do, but I couldn’t sit down here! Clearly dropper posts still require some foresight.
As the day went on I managed to keep gathering pace on the Ranger. Well, definitely not in the climbs, but that wasn’t going to change in a hurry with my current fitness level. A few more tight, rocky descents and I was hanging with Jamie- that was good. Then came the inevitable stack. A lapse in concentration or something had my front wheel on the wrong side of a grassy rut, and I was on my way down…
The rest of the trail went largely without incident, except a rear puncture for Jamie (har!) and a moment of complete blindness for me after taking a tree branch to the eye mid trail. The sections of singletrack of Tarw Du are proper; rocky, flowy and fun. The fire roads in between are not.
Upon our return to the trail head, we found that a novice member of our group had done a solid over the bars maneuver- she was pretty well roughed up, but hands and helmet had saved her face and she was still walking and talking. We decided to end the day on that note/quit while the rest of us were winning.
All in all it was a sick weekend of riding! I was blown away from start to finish by the Ranger– I never once got near the limit of its capabilities in the whole weekend, and it definitely saved my bacon more than once! Stoked.