Bikes and van upgrades, a weekend in Bath
I’ve been back in the West Country since Weds evening which has been great. I did a series of lectures and workshops on photography at the University of Bath School of Architecture on Thursday and Friday which was pretty tiring, more on that in a bit. Then on Friday I met up with my old boss, David Kent, and former colleagues in the Pultney Arms. It’s at least ten years since I saw David and the same amount of time since I had a drink in the Pultney. We’ve kept in touch via Twitter of all things since but great to catch up in person. A few of us went for a curry after including Alex who now is one half of BrickItPro on Twitter.
I stayed at Gav’s on Friday and woke to the taste of raw onions from the previous nights curry and beer. We then headed down to get the new alloys on the van. Unfortunately they all needed tyres adding and balancing too and new valves adding. Gav had sorted out a set of Alfa 156 wheels and got them cleaned and powder coated black for me.
They jacked the van up on what looked like four very spindly jacks. Rather than doing front first, then back they had the whole thing up which looked more than a little precarious. Obviously they know what they’re doing though. It did look a little odd like this.
Then the final showing with the new alloys on with wider, thinner Michelin tyres on. Time for a clean of the van and I think it’ll look a lot better. It seems to drive a lot better and not roll around quite so much. Maybe this is due to less balloon like tyres on there. This could all just be the placebo effect though as I’m no expert on cars.
So having completed this, stood back and admired for a bit, we headed over to Bristol for some brunch with some more people I hadn’t seen in years. This time Sam and Kiera and also their friend Susie who I hadn’t met before. Coffee was ingested along with a fine breakfast. Then we headed out to get onto the M4 to head to Wales.
We were hoping to ride Afan and some quick maths and a rough idea of when it was going to get dark suggested we carry on and go for the better ride. I love riding Cwm-Carn but always seem to enjoy Whites at Afan that little bit more. Gav drove there in my van whilst I fell asleep against the window. By the time we got there I really wanted to just sleep some more but we got the bikes out and headed out into a grey covered landscape.
Unfortunately there was a diversion for a large part of the climb which went up a claggy clay bank. It was impossible to ride as the tyres just skidded around so we ended up pushing. I was hoping that this new diversion meant that the old descent was open.
The diversion soon ended and we got back onto the normal climb. Soon enough we got to the bit near the top where it ever so slightly flattens out and you get a short burst of single track before popping out at the clearing with the view of the wind farms. Saddles down and then straight into the fun bit. I was trying to not get over confident and crash as usual. No bruises from this trip which was great.
The energy trail was running well and the cinder path single track through the woods was great fun. I love that section of the trail as it’s so narrow and twisty. It would have been nice to have done W2 but there was no way we’d make it round before darkness. Fortunately the final section of trail was open. I hadn’t ridden this in ages – maybe 18 months – as they’d been doing forestry works here.
Sadly this final descent had been a victim of the ash die back problem that has affected much of the forestry round this area. What was once a dark, dense tree lined trail was now an open moor and type of path. We rode down not really recognising it even though we’ve been riding it for a long time now. It really is shame that all these trees have died off but hopefully new ones can be planted when this issues is resolved.
By the end of the trail we had a little rain which cooled us of, then went back to the van, changed quickly to get our coffee and cake at the cafe. Driving back along the winding road to the M4 we were treated to the beginnings of a fantastic sunset over the misty hills.