The day did not start well. We had an early start so we could grab a bacon and egg at the bottom of Ruallt Hill as is traditional when coming to North Wales... but the bastard wasn't there!!! Gutted and not one more grease spoon between there and Ranger! So, we arrived massively early and then realised that we had no change for the bloody car park machine. Had to pop back to the most poorly stocked shop in the world (unless your buying bog shit bags) and go back.. We were still up and ready for 9.30. Predictably Graham, Mart and Tony were late anyway. Me and Toss found some nice north shore by the lake which we had a spin on.
The climb up was started immediately. Talk about fucking brutal! Jesus H Christ I was blowing out of my arse.. the zig zags are just at the limit of being too steep to ride, but not steep enough to push... so when we arrived at the turn off for Telegraph Valley I was shagged. No let up though, Shoulder the bikes and climb the steep grass to the top. My legs really were burning here and I was beginning to wonder about the rest of the ride... man I HATE being out of shape. Climbed up this last time we were here with no trouble at all.
At the top, Tony warned about the drainage bars, but in reality they weren't too bad. Bunny hopping them, I found that even if the rear did catch a lip it was unweighted enough to float over. Fast as fuck too. We regrouped at the first gate and who was missing?? Toss. Puncture aparently. Tony, G and myself all went back to hurl abuse, but it didnt make him any quicker. As he took the wheel off the bike he burnt his hand on the rotor too... nasty looking red fucker it was. Anyway, he cruises to the gate where we are all waiting to get the dogs abuse, and off we all set again. Nick came past me and I thought I'd have a bash at nailing him, but he was too fast... proper balls out fun here. Next gate and who's missing again... Yep Toss. He punctured about 300 yards after we set off. Naturally he was roundly jeered when he got back to us. I gave him one of my tubes just in case as he had used his supply in the 1st mile of the 1st descent!
Scoot across the Valley to pick up the track at Hebron Station. The train wasn't running which didnt bode well for the cafe being open at the top. Much girding of loins here as we started the ascent proper. Everyone made a pretty good fist of technical climbing, but it was taking its toll on me. Also, it was so stiflingly hot that I ended up swapping my jacket for a light fleece. We have a regroup and a bite to eat at halfway house and I set off a bit earlier than everyone else as I realised that I would be bringing up the rear. Good job I did as when I got to one steep steep up, I stalled and looped out, managed to fall on my knee (thank god I borrowed Clarkey's knee pads), but the bike clattered onto my arm, spilling a bit of claret and I tweeked the ligaments in my right foot. Jacqui also came a cropper, stalling on a ridiculous bit of bedrock that most of us didnt even try... That girl has balls.
We reached the stone staircase and started the toil up. Chinstrap time. I was fucked and knew it. Still, with every foot we climbed it got brighter until we came out above the clouds and into a stunning temp inversion. Arriving at Clogwyn Station the sun was just in the right place to create Brocken Spectre's. Magical. In all my years on the high hills, I think I've only seen these about 3 times. Toss was made up.
We set off again, and rather than taking the path, we push the bikes up the rail track, me and Jacqui bringing up the rear. Utterly bollocked and pissed off. Last time we came up here, I even managed to cycle a good way past Clogwyn. Still, its given me the kick up the arse I need to get myself fit again!
The views going up were just getting better and better. and on reaching the (packed) summit, the relief was immense. Graham, the big fucking lump of love, got his hipflask out and gave me a shot! Could have kissed him.
Summit visited, we all got padded up for the down. Truth be told I was a bit apprehensive now. I was that tired that I was properly worried about a stupid fall resulting for lack of concentration. Not the place to be having doubts at the top of one of the most technically demanding trails in the country. Also my ankle was fucking killing me.
I decided to take the railway down to the Ranger split. Fuck me that was a shake up. Loose deep stone pushing both wheels all over the place. Proper Sketchy. I didnt see it but apparently Jamie took a nose dive on the run down from the summit, but he was soon back on.
Regroup at the Ranger split... the view was just stunning...
The fast lads set off at a lighting pace, and then I followed Nick, who was flying. Steep loose and FAST at the top... fucking brilliant. I'm going to let Toss describe the rest ......
I shit myself mate. The downhill from the summit in a nutshell for me & from my now disturbed memory - went like this:
- Fuckin fast, sketchy stones at the side of the track - sliding about with no control whatsoever
- Onto the proper track - this was superb & due to the massive gradient fast as fuck
- Hit the first gnarly stuff where everyone had stopped & the talented riders set off first - followed by the mincers - me included
- This section wasn't too bad but big-ish drops, rollable & still steep as fook and now starting to get fuckin lumpy. I thought to myself - relax, lean back and let the bike do the work & was doing a bit less than average - but holding on!
- Another brief stop then onto more seveer rocks - BIG FUCKERS this time and all loose and horrible. To be fair, the good riders struggled here and I think only a couple managed a stab at it - one going over the bars.
- By this time, I was aching like fuck trying to hold on & shoulders / arms cramping up so had no choice - i was proper beaten & way out of my depth so virtually walked all the rest of the way with brief interludes of riding.
- Last section was fucking great though with probably a couple of miles of fast flowy stuff which made up for it for me.
As for me... hitting the loose scree and then the techy switchbacks was hard work, I was fucked, sore and was finding it hard to concentrate. Fucking piss poor performance. Didnt help watching Tony take a nasty looking OTB.. he was ok and got straight back on though. Also, I have to say that the track has suffered a lot since we last came down it... very loose and washed away I thought. I walked a good bit of the switchbacks, but then got back on at the lower section and nailed it.
Regroup at Llyn Ffynnon-y-gwas and Donk had royally fucked up his rear rotor. Dunno how he fixed it as I got going. Last time we didnt do the zig zags, heading over to Telegraph, but this time straight down and brilliant... fast as fuck, plenty of little jumps whooping all the way to the Ranger.
Superb day out, given me the kick up the arse I needed and great company to a man! (and girl).
I'll let Toss sum up the day....
Fuckin glad I did it, because in the first hour, I was fucked & didn't honestly think I could make the distance. The climbing is incredible with massive amounts of bike-carrying. Some sections were as steep as the Shoulder - going up - I shit you not.I had a superb day out, great crack with really nice lads (apart from Dave) and lass.... BUT, I wont be going back in a hurry mate - just glad I made it down in one piece with nowt broken (apart from 2 tubes). Plus its just 12 miles FFS! But a fucking MONSTER ride.
Riders were Graham, Tony, Mart, Nick, Jacqui, Keith, Donk, Si, Matt, Toss, Yours truly and a couple of Tony's mate who's names escaped me (sorry lads!)
Donks Take on the Fun (the fast bastard).