When I was younger I used to do a lot of Mountain Biking. I got a summer job in the school holidays and spent 6 weeks picking chillis to buy my first Mountain Bike. It was purple, it was a Carerra and I got it from Halfords. It was also a ticket to places I had never been able to get to before on my Dads old racer (that’s what we called road bikes then). I remember going out on Bredon Hill and the Cotswolds with mates from school. David Eales was always the keenest – he a had a bike with a Magnesium frame, I can’t remember what make it was but I am glad it never caught fire. Funnily enough it never seemed to catch on.
Once I discovered climbing and mountaineering the biking took a back seat. I generally rode in the autumn as a way of getting fit for the winter and so accordingly I only ever seemed to ride when it was raining. Then I hurt my knee and couldn’t ride at all. Over Christmas last year I tried cycling 200m up the road from home and my knee hurt for several days so why bother?
This spring I decided it was worth a bit of effort. My knee had reacted the same way to ski touring at first but I wanted to do it badly enough that I found a way to manage the knee pain and eventually the knee was able to cope. All I needed to do was apply the same mentality to riding.
I started by pushing my bike all the way to the summit of Drum last month. I didn’t ride it at all until the descent and then I made sure I didn’t pedal. I could free-wheel all the way home and of course it was brilliant. I was determined to do more!
The next day I broke the ascent down and pedalled any flat sections and pushed the rest of the way. Back onto Drum again! My knee was sore but it was worth it.
For the rest of the week I increased my daily stretching routine and pushed on, adding a bit more riding each time and gradually gaining confidence that things were moving in the right direction. I bought a couple of guidebooks and started planning some adventures.
I had never ridden at a Trail Centre so a couple of weeks ago I persuaded Huw, Jo and Bryn to show me around some of the trails at Coed Y Brenin. Woe, what a blast! And its free! Incredible!
Once I delved into the routes that North Wales had to offer in the guidebooks I quickly realised that Llanfairfechan (where I live) has more than its fair share of trails and so I spent a week exploring my local routes. I built upto a 30km ride with about 1200m of ascent a couple of Saturdays ago which took me 3 and 1/2 hours. I discovered some lovely places that I didn’t know existed and went back the following weekend to show Kate and the boys – right on our doorstep. I also got a good workout and re-discovered the joys of single track at speed on dry grass! We’ve got some incredible rides straight from the back door, mountains on one side and the sea on the other with pubs en-route!
This week I decided to venture further afield. I kicked the week off with a 28km circuit through the Carneddau from Capel Curig. The route took me through familiar terrain but from a fresh vantage point and was made all the more enjoyable by the blossom on the Rowan trees, the bluebells in the woods and the beautiful spring sunshine. Having finished the ride I rode upto Pen Y Pass and cheered on the runners from the Dragons Back Race having been following my friend Simon on his tracker. Well done Si!
The following day I headed over to Moel Famau Country Park and did a shorter circuit over some brilliant rolling hills. This was fast riding with amazing views back over the mountains of Snowdonia and an area that I had never explored before. The descents on grass were incredible and I barely saw another soul.
Yesterday I went South and explored the foothills of Cader Idris. My ride was the longest I have done since getting back on a bike, 44km taking 5 hours with 1339m of ascent and descent. I had some lovely views up the Coast to Barmouth and beyond and at times it was like riding on the Isle of Skye or the West Coast of Scotland. The route had a real mixture of tracks, single track, rocks and plenty of gates. I had forgotten how much fun gates are on a bike!
Today I rode from home again. This time with the pleasure of my 16 year old for company. Archie has finished his exams so thats Year 12 complete! I’m getting old!
Tomorrow I am heading to the Lake District to sample some riding there before making my way to Skye for our Skye Scrambling Week. Maybe I will have to try and re-create some of the Danny MacAskill film whilst I am there!
Anyway, I’m back out on my bike. The knee seems to have accepted that this is now part of life and is getting on with it. Bikes have changed a bit, we now have suspension – although I only have it at the front – and the world seems to wear body armour – I can’t get into that – and they seem to have less gears. In the 90’s it was all about who had the most and I was pretty chuffed with 21 – now it seems people have 11. Or 12. Seems fine – less to go wrong. They have also got a bit lighter. Fundamentally though Mountain Biking is still a blast and its getting me out into new places and showing me old places in a new light. Ace! (Another piece of the 90’s that has followed me into the 21st century)