April 7, 2013

My first trip to Whites Level - Mountain Biking at Glyncorrwg (Afan Argoed)

Today I was supposed to rent a car to go see my sister who lives in Oxford, I was supposed to help her move, and I was supposed to pick things up from Oxford and bring them back to Cardiff.  But when I woke up the sun was out, and the weather was supposed to get up to the high 50's (8 degrees C), and my brewer half and friends were all headed to Whites Level for a morning of mountain biking.  I called my sister at 7:30am to see if we could reschedule, and when she didn't answer (probably due to sleeping) I assumed she was okay with my change of plans and I packed my bike and jumped in the car to Glyncorrwg!

The initial ascent was closed due to forest things, but after treking my bike up a hill I was back on the trails.  It was a truly stunning day!
Dave says "look, blue sky!"
I was a bit nervous on the single track because I had never been before and I was by myself - I try not to slow the boys down when they are biking and I am very slow on the ascents so I usually just head off before them and then let them pass me.  Whites level seemed a bit more technical than Y Wal - mostly because of the stones and pebbly bits.  I'm just figuring out how to ride over roots, riding over stones is a whole different story.  

Here's me looking happy and pale and with my eyes shut after the final ascent:
Then we hit the descents together. It's well noted that I love Y Wal - but Whites level is a serious contender.  It had a bit of everything - some steep, some fast, some flow-y, some rocks.  It even had some awesome boardwalk bits!
(I stole this picture from the internet)
Whites level had something for everyone.  I've never been anywhere that was so custom built for mountain bikers.  The final descent was the best I've ever done - straight across the side of a mountain, looking over the beautiful Welsh valleys.  I felt like I was roaring down but Strava tells me it was 10mph - I'm sure I will go even quicker next time.

I managed the whole trail without any crashes today, which would possibly indicate I'm not pushing myself enough.  There was one bit that I didn't like - too many rocks and I couldn't see my line (line = the path I'll cycle to not fall off) but instead of slowing down I pedaled faster and made it over without any problems.  

As a wise man once said "If in doubt, go flat out!"

Today I watched this same wise man take the trail without working back brakes.  He went flat out.

Then he got to the bottom and tried to do a wheelie.  You can't do a wheelie without a back brake.  He ended up flat out... on the ground. We all laughed.

All in all another excellent day at Afan!  And I'm sure my most loveliest sister (who also is my blog editor), will understand a Californian in Wales's need to be outside on a bike when the sun is out!
Ben is top 50 on Strava now for the final descent. Nailed it!

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