I hadn’t been to Afan for a few years so was really pleased to hear that SteveA and ChrisO were concocting a club away day to Afan. So I signed up for a fun day of rocky ups and downs which did not disappoint! Steve did the guiding and the odd bit of bike maintenance here and there (cough cough) and Chris kindly did driving duties.
We started with the not often ridden Blaengarw just over the hill from Afan, which introduced ChrisO to lots of climbing and madly-fast rocky descending. As always around here, the climbing can be a bit technical, at one point causing Chris to lie down on the job 🙂 The descending started bermy and fast, entering into big sometimes loose rock gardens which were tricky in places. Took me a little while to recalibrate to rock riding as I got bounced around on them struggling to keep control.
Afan – White’s Level
Next stop was Afan Skyline café, and then the much loved White’s Level climb! It’s OK once you get into the rhythm of rocky techy climbing, and happy to say we did all the overtaking. We did this climb twice, and for some reason, each time Chris couldn’t believe how big the climb was, and kept asking Steve how much further there was to go, this mostly happened half way up, and led to much laughter and high spirits.
Once up the climb, it would have been rude to miss out the Black downhill, so we did this twice during the day. Steve pointed out there was a downhill and climb back up 8 minute challenge, I didn’t quite make it in the time but got a cup. After this we did several absolutely superb tracks, often a bit pedaly but superfast, through the trees, over little bridges and over rocks, plenty of rocks.
Was feeling pleased with myself keeping Steve just in sight when I felt my back tire was way too low. Blasted, the rocks took their toll and tore through my tire. Bummer. After much cursing, pumping and spraying of white fluid through the undergrowth it was agreed that this thing was not going to seal. OK, inner tube in, pumped up hard, and Chris took the opportunity to take many compromising photos pasting them all over the Cloud. Caught up with Steve, who to my dismay said this was a disaster as I would get another flat within moments. Oh well, I said, and indeed, following Steve at his ridiculous speed I started hearing the old rims knocking on rocks. Bugger. OK, as it’s the last run of this second ride it wasn’t too bad and nothing for it but to jog back to base. So commenced my duathlon back to the cafe. Chris took a few snazzy videos of Steve endlessly wheelying, fantastic.
Back in the carpark Steve expertly showed us how to deal with a tire tear with flexible superglue and a patch, awesome job! Then after reinflation, back at the Café I had my usual fortification of BLT and spoons of ketchup (what’s wrong with that?)
Afan – Blade
Suitibly fortified with food, coffee and ketchup, next up, Afan Blade! Climb was great as usual, but then the next trails were superb, twisting and turning very fast down rocky rooty bermed slopes and through trees.
Coming out of a particularly fun section and getting into a fire road climb I noticed I only had my top gear, blasted! Sticks and stones did my gear cable in! Never fear, Steve had a spare gear cable, and more compromising photos were uploaded to the world.
At some point Chris’ legs were starting to give in here, and I dare say that somewhere there are uploaded photos of him lying down, resting on some shrubs attracting midges. At some point Steve suggested I tighten some more bits on my bike, and then away we went on the final descents, which were awesome. The last had some pretty big rocks, no chance keeping up with Steve as he had some race lines dialled in, nice!
A fantastic away day to Afan, thanks Chris and Steve.
PS: there is of course a much longer video of a much longer wheely, but the file is too big to upload to this site… 🙂