Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Did I mention, it was HOT!

Big thanks goes to Stuart for the CCC2CC training ride write up!

So, Gaz, Alex and myself tackled the W2 route at Afan Argoed. We arranged to meet at the Afan trail centre, which would mean we could have lunch midway, at the Glyncorwyg trail centre (with the better cafe).

For me, this was the first time out on "proper" off-road trails for the best part of 18 months. I'd been ill last year, but to be honest, this was no excuse really, I'd just prefered to ride on the road. I'd rebuilt the NRS for the CCC2CC ride, fitting more robust components, meaning it now weighs in at 24lbs. I'd been getting used to the MTB riding position by comuting on the XTC, taking in a few off-road short-cuts.

So with everything prepared, we set off... 

Now, as I said, I'd not ridden at Afan for quite a while. There were a few additional "novice" detours along the side of the trail, which just had to be explored and ridden. Nothing too difficult, although the dry, dusty gravel on some of the sections had to be treated with respect. 

We followed the trail to the start of the climb of the Wall trail, the start of the W2 route. The first section is fire-road so we rode up this at a fairly quick pace (6mph). By the time we got to the top of the Wall trail and the link to the W2/White's Level route, we had averaged just under 8mph. Not bad going considering the conditions, which were hot. Very hot. 

Due to building work and repairs to the trails, we missed the turn down to the cafe at Glyncorwyg. We ended up doing an extra 2.5 mile route and heading down towards the cafe on the fire roads. We found the trail eventually and headed to the cafe for a well earned lunch. 
During lunch, I had a large coffee and also a can of diet coke, worried that I may dehydrate during the afternoon's ride. The weather was getting hotter. Gaz and Alex also restocked their fluids. 

Also during the lunch break, I took the opportunity to adjust my saddle angle. The KCNC seat-post I had fitted is light, but can't take the abuse of serious trail riding (probably due to my weight as well). After sorting my seat-post out, we set off back out on the trail, occasionally being re-routed due to trail work. 
The frustrating thing was that when we got to where we should have turned off originally, we realised that we'd have to do two very steep climbs again. At the top of these, I stopped to admire the view (Okay, so I had to wait for the other two, but its probably inappropriate to say that...). 
If I squeezed my mits, the sweat would literally drip out of them! It was seriously hot.

We continued onwards and upwards and occasionally downwards. Unfortunately, we took another wrong turn once we'd crossed the W2 high-level link and ended up doing another loop and another steep climb. These climbs were starting to take it out of me.
We finally found the correct trail and continued to hit the downward sections of the Wall trail. By this time, I had run out of energy drink in my Camelbak - I'd taken 3 litres with me.

It was during one of these sections that catastrophe happened..

From what we could figure out, Alex managed to hit his pedal on a sawn off tree stump and crashed pretty badly. By the time I arrived on the scene (I don't ride down-hill very quickly), Gaz was sorting out his First-Aid kit to patch Alex up. 
Both of his knees had taken the impact, the right one needing hospital treatment and stitches. 

With Alex patched up as best as could be done under the circumstances, we continued down the trail, very carefully, only to stop after a few yards after it became apparent that Alex's front brake had broken. 
We walked the rest of that trail section at a pace Alex could manage, until we came to Bryn Betts Lodge. We left Alex there and headed off quickly and carefully back down the trails, to join the fire-road trail back to the car park. 
Gaz then went off to collect Alex from Bryn Bettw Lodge and take him to Bridgend hospital. 

In total we had ridden/walked 37.2 miles in just under 5 hours, climbed 3,800ft, averaging 7.6 mph. Pretty much what we anticipate the daily rides will be during the CCC2CC ride.

We learned a few valuable lessons during this ride: 

1. Take plenty of fluids. Okay, granted it was a very warm day, I got through 3 litres of energy drink, a large latte and a can of diet coke. I’d run out of drink 5 miles from the end of the ride!

2. First Aid! Thankfully Gaz had a first aid kit with him. We'll all be carrying them during the CCC2CC ride. 

3. Knee pads – I think these may be essential gear. 

4. Get used to riding with your back pack. 

5. Test your bike out – I had a couple of technical issues which were preventable – ghost shifting, need to lengthen the cable between the seat tube and seat stay and my seatpost won’t take the abuse of off-road riding, leaving my saddle tipped up and me with a bad back. 

Despite all of the issues that happened on the ride, it was a very enjoyable day. Further training rides have been planned and I'll be doing a lot more training on the NRS!

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