I was up in North Wales last week for a road trip photo shoot with Joe Smith and Steve Jones.
It was my first time in Blaenau and it is a pretty crazy place. It is right in the middle of Snowdonia national park, although apparently not in it, because of the nasty looking slag heaps.
We hiked up into the slate quarries and found some cool stuff to ride on. The views were pretty epic and if you didn’t mind doing a few hours of hiking i reckon you could find some amazing descents.
I was riding one of the Dirt test bikes, a Morewood Makalu, an impressive bit of kit. Although it didn’t look quite as nice by the end of the day as Steve asked me to hit a rocky section just one more time- with a rear puncture! That ended in a crash and a very expensive bit of kit being rag dolled down a slate scree slope. Oops. Not my fault!
Steve also found a spot for a photo that had Joe and myself turning across a piece of rock right next to a 200ft cliff. I was pretty much crapping it. I wouldn’t say i was scared of heights, but i am a bit worried about riding my bike along the top of a cliff. Ah well, i hope i get a good shot out of it!
I was up at Llandegla last friday to open up their long awaited freeride track.
Laurence was taking the photos and he got some pretty nice shots.
The last straight is good fun, with a step down off the bridge to a long low tabletop to a big kicker tabletop.
Check out his website-
Laurence Crossman-Emms photography
or his flickr account-
I had a great Downhill coaching session on Saturday at the infamous One Giant Leap downhill track at Llangollen.
The track was used this year for a round of the BDS and has gained a bit of a reputation! It is probably the steepest track that i have ridden in the UK, almost on a par with Champery, but not quite.
So i was a bit nervous at using the place for doing some coaching, i didn’t want to be responsible for killing anyone under my tuition.
I was even more nervous when the guys i was supposed to be coaching turned up with short travel, xc/ trail type bikes. I thought it was going to be a blood bath.
However it turned out fine. The guys were good riders and had plenty of body armour, luckily!
We rode the new track at Llangollen which is more mellow than the race track, but still a lot of fun.
It really does feel like you about to ride off the end of the world when you look down from the top, but the view is amazing.
It turned out to be a top day. Loads of great places on track to practise some skills and Martin gave us uplifts all day so we put in a fair few runs.
One of the best things about Llangollen is that even though it was quite wet and muddy, it is so steep it drains really well and the mud doesn’t slow you down. I cant wait to get back up there to ride some more, i have got the DH bug back again.
After mountain biking my next favourite thing to do is ride motocross.
I decided this weekend (the wettest weekend of the year/ century) was a great time to do my first motocross race in ages.
Well a jet ski may have been the better choice, i think today was up there with in top 3 of the muddiest i have ever been.
However, i was determined not to let the weather stop me having a good time. It was a ‘moto-duro’ race, which consists of 2x 1 hour races on a motocross/ enduro type track.
I got off to a good start and moved into the lead on the second lap. It was more like the battle of the Somme than a motocross race. I got roosted so bad when i caught up to some of the slower expert riders! It was mega heavy clay/ mud and my helmet weighed a tonne with all the crap on it.
So i lead for about 45 minutes then had a little slip off at walking pace on one of the ‘ice rink’ turns and that was that. I picked up my bike and spent the next 20 minutes kicking it trying to get it started again.
Cue a lot of swearing under my helmet and a hernia inducing push back to the van.
So i have decided, i am now a fair weather motocross racer….
So it is almost that dreaded time of the year, the nights are starting to draw in, riding in the evening is almost done and the trails are getting slippy.
You know what that means, time to change back to winter tyres. Now i hate changing tyres as much as anybody, but there are only so many times i can understeer wildly before i think it might be a bad idea to still have a semi slick on the front.
Wet riding tips-
Don’t let your eyes wonder down to your front wheel when the going gets rutty. The best thing you can do is stay loose on your bike, let it wonder around beneath you, and keep your head up! Looking down the trail and not straight at the floor is key to getting through ruts.
Now every one knows these are slippy at the best of times, but in winter they can be lethal!
Try to hit the roots as square as possible, turn and line up and early as possible and if needs be, drop your heels ready to swing your body weight over the rear of the bike.
Why not try one of our Vital Skills courses to make sure your skills are polished up for winter!