RR - CwmCarn Forrest, Wales, UK, Twrch Mountain Bike Trail

Discussion in 'Mountain Bikes' started by Geedubb, Mar 21, 2004.

  1. Geedubb

    Geedubb Guest

    Apologies for the length.

    I suppose I couldn't have picked a more foul day to ride
    what is considered one of the better trails in all of the UK
    (well, according to web sites and forestry info).

    If you want to skip the dissertation below, what photos I
    took (the camera wasn't water resistant) are here

    http://tinyurl.com/3ykgm or here

    >http://xpupload.hpphoto.com/servlet/com.hp.HPAlbumPict?com-
    >=us&awp=guestalbu
    m.html&album_id=3666033&username=garyrwilliams&password=470-
    54665&hotmflag200 4=hotm&RefreshRandom=0.801207253803747<

    CwmCarn (I'm not sure why the Welsh don't use more vowels,
    maybe they can buy some from Vanna....) is located in the SW
    section of Wales North of Newport, just outside of a town
    name Risca (ok, two vowels there). It's fairly easy to find
    once us Yanks catch on to the round-a-bout terminology
    (directions said to turn at the 5th round-a-bout past
    Risca....well that means the fifth turn out on the Risca round-a-
    bout which in this case was the third left out of the
    dizziness that the UK drivers use for a stop sign
    <n>).

    A SIDE BAR: every Yank should drive a right drive car at
    least once in their life and experience multiple approach
    round-a-bouts.

    OK, back to the ride. The wife and I show up about noon and
    the sky looks to be cooperating as it's been raining heavily
    all the way down from Warwick. It's drying out and the trail
    looks inviting. We inquire at the ranger station about the
    difficulty of the ride and my wife decides to opt for a
    hike, both of which the ranger tells us will take 2 hours.
    The nice ranger lady tells us about a shop in town that
    hires out bike and calls to verify. She gives me directions
    (only a mile off) and I make my way back down into town to
    see about hiring the bike (mind you, w/o my wife/navigator
    who's been a Godsend in directing me through these crazy
    circular intersections). Two miles into the mile and a half
    directions and still not bike shop so, yes men, I stopped
    and asked directions. I was only a block away from the shop
    so I proceeded to Martyn Ashfield Cycles, (63 St. Mary
    Street, Risca, NP11 6GQ, tel 1633 601040 for anyone planning
    to go here in the future) and asked to hire a mtb. The nice
    man proceeds to the back and pulls out some heavy dual
    suspension boingy thing. I immediately ask if he possibly
    has a hard tail because this thing he's got hold of is not
    quite like my Titus SB....no lock outs for the 300 meters of
    climbing in the first section of the trail.

    Now get this, the owner of the shop tells me he has to go to
    his home and get the HT, he'll be back in twenty
    minutes.....awesome service. The bike I got was not a brand
    I had heard of, had 21 speed low end Shimano something for
    shifters and brakes I hadn't seen since I last looked at my
    kids bike but it's already 1:15 and my wife has an hour head
    start on her hike. The nice man asks me what pedals I want
    and I hand him the Shimano 747's from my pocket. I grab a
    spare, a bonnet and give the nice guy my credit card and
    back up the road to the trail head.

    It's flipping raining cats and dogs buy I'm committed. Get
    soaked walking up to the ranger station to change. Get
    soaked walking back to finish preparing to ride. It's a
    little cooler than I'm use to (somewhere in the 40's F).
    There's a local gent that's just finished riding and he says
    it's a little slow with a bit a mud. OK.......

    So I'm off, glad I at least bought a rain coat for riding.
    I've got double layers of everything so I'm staying warm for
    now. The first section is a gradual climb. I'm admiring the
    trail and how durable it seems to be with the amount of
    water on it. The big Tioga tires a gripping quite well and I
    only dab once going over the only tree root on the entire
    climb. It's apparent that the preceding week of English beer
    drinking has taken its toll as I'm breathing quite hard. I
    figure I probably had gained ten pound already from all I've
    eaten and drank.

    I finally get to some down hills and f*ck, the damn brake
    levers are reversed so not only did I have to drive the car
    from the right, my brain has to remember to brake the rear
    with the left hand, CRAP. Fortunately the brakes are so wet
    they aren't grabbing. I also forgot how rough a HT is as
    it's been some time since I've been on one.

    I finally get to the top of the hill (not a mountain in the
    Rocky Mtn. sort of way) and get near blown off my bike in
    the open field. Sleet is slamming my face at near 30 mph
    and I'm thinking wtf but remember it was in the high 90's
    in Phoenix when I left so I'm sucking it up. The trail
    continues around and you get a very nice view of the town
    from the trail. The rain/sleet/wind is dying down as I
    start down the switchbacks to the parking lot where I can
    see the wife pacing (it's about 3:30, an hour after she
    expected me). I enter the parking lot where one of the
    rangers politely tells me 'I think your wife is waiting for
    you" <(;-}

    I'm soaked, muddy, and happy, I got to ride in the UK while
    I was there. I wouldn't travel the 5400 miles to do it again
    but it was fun.

    A quote from the CwmCarn Twrch trail brochure "This is a
    superb trail of the very highest quality that is not for the
    faint hearted. Virtually the entire route is on purpose
    built singletrack through a mixture of broadleaf and conifer
    woodlands and open ridge tops.

    The riding varies from open and flowing hard pack to
    tight technical and rooty and is rideable in all weather.
    In places the trail hugs the sides of some very steep
    wooded side slopes, demanding concentration, whilst in
    others it sweeps along open ground giving you the chance
    to take in dramatic views of the Bristol Channel and the
    surrounding hills."

    This was a fun ride and the "all weather" trail stood up to
    the conditions I rode in. Even the steeped slopes were well
    packed and rideable in very wet conditions. I've ridden much
    tougher trails in Colorado and Arizona (mostly due to riding
    above 7000' in elevation) but none that were rideable with
    this much water on them. I'm impressed with the work they
    have done to make this an all-weather trail.

    One other note is that one of the tougher sections through
    Giant's Finger was closed so I missed what appeared to be a
    hard climb and probably the best part of the 15.5 km loop.

    More info is available here http://www.mtbbritain.co.uk/cwm-
    carn_mountain_bike_trail.html
     
    Tags:


  2. Tcmedara

    Tcmedara Guest

    GeeDubb <[email protected]> wrote:
    > Apologies for the length.
    >
    > (snip intro)

    > A SIDE BAR: every Yank should drive a right drive car at
    > least once in their life and experience multiple approach
    > round-a-bouts.
    >
    (snip awesome RR)

    An aside to your aside: Several years ago I was on
    temporary duty at an Air Base in England. A collegue and I
    had to report for duty around 0500 one morning. He was
    driving our right-hand drive rental on the locally
    appropriate left side. We left the billeting area, drove
    down a main road, made our way through a few roundabouts
    and stopped to pass through the guard post. At that point
    the guard politely told my buddy, "Sir, you're supposed to
    use a blinker when you exit the roundabout." Without
    missing a beat, he looked at the guard with a deadpan face
    and replied, "We're all just damn

    later!" I proceeded to spew coffee all over the windscreen
    and dash. The guard waved us on and we proceeded on our way.

    Great pics and well written RR. I'm not sure I could have
    adapted so easily to the reversed brake levers. I'm thinking
    there would have been a few endo's as the day progressed.
    Just goes to show how a great ride can happen when you least
    expect it. It also appears that the quality of the gear did
    nothing to detract from the quality of the experience. Nice
    when it works out like that.

    Tom
     
  3. "GeeDubb" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > Apologies for the length.
    >
    > I suppose I couldn't have picked a more foul day to
    > ride what is
    considered
    > one of the better trails in all of the UK (well, according
    > to web sites
    and
    > forestry info).
    >
    > If you want to skip the dissertation below, what photos I
    > took (the camera wasn't water resistant) are here
    >

    Nice RR, hope you found the effort worth it! pretty foul
    weather at the moment in the UK, its not usually this bad at
    this time of year...

    As for the roundabout thing, found the exact opposite a year
    ago when in Canada - at an intersection of four roads with
    nothing in the middle damned if I knew when to go... And
    don't get me started on handbrakes

    Steve.
     
  4. Geedubb

    Geedubb Guest

    tcmedara wrote:
    > GeeDubb <[email protected]> wrote:
    >> Apologies for the length.
    >>
    >> (snip intro)
    >
    >> A SIDE BAR: every Yank should drive a right drive car at
    >> least once in their life and experience multiple approach
    >> round-a-bouts.
    >>
    > (snip awesome RR)
    >
    > An aside to your aside: Several years ago I was on
    > temporary duty at an Air Base in England. A collegue and I
    > had to report for duty around 0500 one morning. He was
    > driving our right-hand drive rental on the locally
    > appropriate left side. We left the billeting area, drove
    > down a main road, made our way through a few roundabouts
    > and stopped to pass through the guard post. At that point
    > the guard politely told my buddy, "Sir, you're supposed to
    > use a blinker when you exit the roundabout." Without
    > missing a beat, he looked at the guard with a deadpan face
    > and replied, "We're all just damn lucky we

    > later!" I proceeded to spew coffee all over the
    > windscreen and dash. The guard waved us on and we
    > proceeded on our way.
    >
    > Great pics and well written RR. I'm not sure I could have
    > adapted so easily to the reversed brake levers. I'm
    > thinking there would have been a few endo's as the day
    > progressed. Just goes to show how a great ride can happen
    > when you least expect it. It also appears that the quality
    > of the gear did nothing to detract from the quality of the
    > experience. Nice when it works out like that.
    >
    > Tom

    I was fortunate in that on the second day I was properly
    instructed on how to access and depart a round-a-bout,
    signals and all. Having the navigator is by far the best
    thing to have... and not driving anywhere near London.

    As for the gear it really worked well until I totally
    fouled the deraileur with mud. It worked fine until
    climbing then it would simply lock up. I either had to be
    quick to back pedal to release it or stop and walk until I
    could start again. It only happened four times and on the
    back side of the ride.

    That night we stayed at the Heathrow Hilton (cha-ching) and
    I tried to wash out everything. I can imagine what the
    cleaning people thought the next day <:)-}

    Gary
     
  5. Geedubb

    Geedubb Guest

    spademan o---[) * wrote:

    >>
    >
    > Nice RR, hope you found the effort worth it! pretty foul
    > weather at the moment in the UK, its not usually this bad
    > at this time of year...
    >
    > As for the roundabout thing, found the exact opposite a
    > year ago when in Canada - at an intersection of four roads
    > with nothing in the middle damned if I knew when to go...
    > And don't get me started on handbrakes
    >
    > Steve.

    Had I been in the area Wednesday it would have been an
    awesome ride. Mostly sunny and warm but we were headed for
    Stratford where there isn't much for off-road riding or
    bike hire.

    Once I figured out the roundabout I thought it was a good
    idea. Keeps the traffic flowing much better than a four way
    stop or a signless interesection where one doesn't know who
    has the right of way.

    We have one major roundabout near one of our landfills here.
    Scares the hell out of me everytime I go into it, mostly due
    to the very large trucks that frequent the area and the fact
    that no one knows how to use it here in the Southwest US.
    Give way to the bigger vehicle!

    Gary
     
  6. Pete Jones

    Pete Jones Guest

    On Mon, 22 Mar 2004 08:16:38 -0700, "GeeDubb" <[email protected]>
    blathered:

    >> As for the roundabout thing, found the exact opposite a
    >> year ago when in Canada - at an intersection of four
    >> roads with nothing in the middle damned if I knew when to
    >> go... And don't get me started on handbrakes
    >
    >
    >Once I figured out the roundabout I thought it was a
    >good idea.

    Perhaps just as well you didn't drive via Swindon....
    http://www.swindonweb.com/life/lifemagi1.jpg

    Pete
     
  7. Taywood

    Taywood Guest

    "GeeDubb" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > Apologies for the length.
    >
    > I suppose I couldn't have picked a more foul day to
    > ride what is
    considered
    > one of the better trails in all of the UK (well, according
    > to web sites
    and
    > forestry info).

    Great post, glad you enjoyed the ride. How did you come to
    choose this specific route? Mike
     
  8. Geedubb

    Geedubb Guest

    taywood wrote:
    > "GeeDubb" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]
    > berlin.de...
    >> Apologies for the length.
    >>
    >> I suppose I couldn't have picked a more foul day to ride
    >> what is considered one of the better trails in all of the
    >> UK (well, according to web sites and forestry info).
    >
    > Great post, glad you enjoyed the ride. How did you come to
    > choose this specific route? Mike

    I hadn't planned on going too far North or West. The wife
    wanted to do the Cotswolds (and the Lake District but that
    was too far to drive for one weeks visit). I searched the
    net and asked here about rides. I was directed to some links
    and this one looked the closest to where I could actually
    get to. I couldn't find a net source for bike hire and took
    a chance that there might be a LBS near the trail (which is
    why I posted the LBS info in my op). This route looked more
    challenging than rides I read about in the South and up near
    the Cotswolds and the fact that it was listed as an 'all
    weather trail'. If I couldn't ride I would have hiked with
    my wife so it was a win-win situation.

    The site I listed for more info also had a video of the
    trail though it looked quite different than the video <g>.

    Gary

    There are more trails as you go further west but time
    was limited.
     
  9. Geedubb

    Geedubb Guest

    Pete Jones wrote:
    > On Mon, 22 Mar 2004 08:16:38 -0700, "GeeDubb"
    > <[email protected]> blathered:
    >
    >>> As for the roundabout thing, found the exact opposite a
    >>> year ago when in Canada - at an intersection of four
    >>> roads with nothing in the middle damned if I knew when
    >>> to go... And don't get me started on handbrakes
    >>
    >>
    >> Once I figured out the roundabout I thought it was a
    >> good idea.
    >
    > Perhaps just as well you didn't drive via Swindon....
    > http://www.swindonweb.com/life/lifemagi1.jpg
    >
    >
    > Pete

    I couldn't access the link. I broke it down to just
    http://www.swindonweb and still couldn't get there.
    Gary?????
     
  10. Pete Jones

    Pete Jones Guest

  11. Geedubb

    Geedubb Guest

    Pete Jones wrote:

    >
    > Works for me, but anyway - http://www.btinternet.com/~peteajones/temp/swindon-
    > roundabout.jpg
    >
    > Pete

    Ouch! Four lanes on the upper approach/exit! It looks like
    the smaller approaches have mini-roundabouts allowing a U-
    turn? I'm guessing to get the heck away from that
    thing.....<g>

    Glad I didn't come up on that one. All of the larger ones I
    encountered had traffic lights.

    Gary
     
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