Trail Maintenance

Trail maintenance secteurs and saw next to a rucksack.

The problem with all this warm wet weather is a tremendous growth of undergrowth in the woods. Ferns are generally not a problem, but nettles, white poplar saplings and brambles are encroaching on some of the best bits of singletrack and were making passage miserable and regularly drawing blood. Only one thing for it brave the mosquitos, horse flies and midges and get to clearing. The pay back to a couple of hours will be a return to flying again on the trails next time around.

TdF is on

Tour de France is on the telly, it must be time to get the road bike out. Since I went through the windscreen of a car that pulled out on me on my way home from a time trial I’ve been a reluctant road rider but this is a special bike and always a pleasure to get out on.

Independent Fabrication Titanium Crown Jewel

Nicknamed the Ferrari it always looks ace in it’s Ruby Red and Baywater Pearl panels tipping a hat to my former Harry Hall Elan painted by Dave Yates. After the most recent outing given the state of the local roads I’m looking at changing the saddle and bars for something a little more forgiving because even 25mm tyres and sensible PSI aren’t cutting it.

Commutes of the Week

This working from lifestyle which was by necessity for the last 18 months now looks to be a pretty definite thing for the foreseeable future. On that basis the week needs to be peppered with some new commute rides.

Pine forest meadow riding

Having started a couple of weeks ago, I am coming to the view that alternating between a ride down to the coast to hit singletrack in the woods and inland to continue exploring is a good bet. This weeks achievements have been adding a few more segments into Strava for favourite bits and a bit of detective work on some other local riders to pick up leads on some more gravel roads.

Gravel bike riding on the Cheshire Lines

I’ll be looking to explore those new-to-me tracks next week. In the meantime the rear hub on the Cross Bike needs a strip and service and it sounds like, after 1,300km, the bottom bracket bearings are shot so I’ll need to get that sorted too.

Coed-y-Brenin

Celebrating having made it to a bit of blogging milestone, for the 1,001th post I headed out to West Wales and hooked up on the trails of Coed-y-Brenin. The last time I rode around was May 2006. 2006! Crikey, it didn’t feel like that long.

Understandably a lot has changed in that time when if I recall the new visitors centre building was still in the final stages of construction and not open. Well it’s all very different now, that is for sure and there are plenty of trails to choose from. It lacks the warm and friendly sense of community from back when Sian and Dafydd Roberts ran the initial pioneering visitors centre, but the scale of that setup didn’t have the super helpful team in Beics Brenin.

I opted for the Beast, because it was the longest option and having spent over two hours driving the 61 miles as the crow flies to get there, it was about maximum biking.

I didn’t pay enough attention to the differences between the Beast and the Dragon’s Back Trail. They looked to be largely the same, a bit of a school boy error as they diverge near the start and that meant I ended up doing extra bits, which wasn’t ideal as the Beast is a trail that lives up to it’s name.

For the second week in succession as I reached the top most bits of the trail the weather closed in and it was a bit damp and grey. The views when you could see them were amazing as you would expect from being on the fringes of Snowdonia.

The trails were good and I am sure radically different since I last rode them, but Gomez, Uncle Fester and Pink Heffer all seemed familiar as something might with the haziness of 15 years ago memories.

As I return to the car a bit broken by the ride, I just thought that the trails were so rocky that they would be really quite unpleasant on a hardtail and even on an Enduro bike they were tough going. Almost to the point that if this is by design they are going to put a lot of folks off.

I’m not just talking about the Black bits – you get what you asked for – but many of the bits were shared with Red trails and on that basis they are definitely dark red. Maybe we need a regrading of the trails, using the IMBA classification and introducing the double Black diamond grade:

Facelift

With this update entry the site has reached the heady highlight of 1,000 blog posts. Seeing the target approaching I thought that it was a good time to give the site a facelift…

Before and after

Might do some tweaking and there’s a bit of tidying up to do in places over coming weeks. It’s been a journey, coming up to 20 years of blogging in 2023.

100% Rain

Keeping the circular commuting commitment going, I headed out int the rain on the Cross Bike for a quick local loop. The rain fell through out and it reminded me that I definitely need some braces for the Endura 3/4 length waterproof shorts.

And that the Chris King free hub is a bit sticky and needs a strip down and service…

Forecast was correct

I’ve planned out a big ride around Pendle Hill but the forecast for Sunday was pretty grim and I thought that it’d just be miserable trying it out under leaden skies.

Before the heavens opened

So I headed in that direction and revisited the trails at Gisburn Forest. It’s been a few years and it’s strange how you forget what the trails are like. In short if you want to practice root strewn technical climbs through a forest this is the place to go.

Out of the woods on the open track climb up to the upper loop the heavens opened and it rained heavily for the rest of the ride. I ended up taking Long Way Down rather than the Gully run as a descent. The conditions made it a pretty miserable second half ride with water sloshing in shoes and gloves. At least it was warm.

Savaged

Take some trail maintenance tools. Clear some of the undergrowth. Cut back some of the tree growth. Great plan.

Didn’t take into account midges, mosquitos and horse flies. Proper bitten in addition to the standard set of nettle stings and bramble scratches this morning.

Welcome to July.