Monday, April 23, 2007

Quiet weekend

Due to a bad back...a legacy of last weekend I was quiet weekend chez Giles. With another weekend of superb weather it was painful to have to forgo a walk or a ride. Still, I am keen not to aggravate the injury and forestall a decent recovery; so rest and recovery were the watchwords.
Spring cleaning is running amok in Orchard Court. Last week it reached a crescendo as we lost a dining table to create more room for a bookcase downstairs. It looks like guests are going to have to make do with the kitchen until a better solution is found. The loss of the table has made way for a great little reading area at the back of the lounge though. We also ended up sifting through baskets of toiletries and medicines that have been collected over the years. One tip for anyone who wishes to listen, don't store Lockets at the bottom of the box of toiletries...the cumulative weight causes leakage and leakage causes stickiness...ick!
The weekend was capped off by a great Sunday...Bath win in the semis of the European Challenge Cup and then a trip to the Little Theatre to watch The Curse of the Golden Flower. What a movie...who says the days of the epic are gone...

Friday, April 20, 2007

The first enduro of the season

Last weekend was the first enduro of the season. It certainly feels like summer is just around the corner when the Big Night Out comes around. This year we had a bigger group of people heading up to Builth although I was the sole participant in the ELBNO. The rest of the team were busy completing the Sunday daytime enduros.

This year, just to make it even more challenging, Richard decided to go via Afan on Saturday afternoon to ride the Whyte Trail. I was a little unsure about it it, given that I was due to ride in the evening but went along with it. We met Henri at the Drop Off and got our kit ready. Given last year's gearing issues I decided to take the Mather for the night ride. It certainly isn't as well suited to the trails at Afan as the Rocky but it is good for the enduros.

The weather on Saturday was stunning, bright sunshine and mid-twenties. It really did feel like July or August straining up the singletrack climb. As usual the Mather ate up the climb, however, this time I was outgunned on the descent with everyone else on their full bouncers. I was amazed by how quickly Henri climbed on his Kona Stinky (it weighs a ton). What was more impressive was how fast he descended...his weeks in the Alps have certainly paid dividends.

The ELBNO was a struggle to be honest. The first climb was an absolute beast with the majority of the field walking the final section. And then the punctures started. In total I flatted three times (with only one spare inner). Having repaired the inner twice with separate thorns (not easy in the dark) I was offered a spare inner by what seemed to be the only other person on a 29er. I was pretty happy to get back within 2.45 given the number of flats.

This week has been a bit of a struggle. I seem to have pulled a muscle in my lower back which makes walking painful, nevermind cycling. I hope to be back on the bike next week or the though. I guess I will need to be with the Dyfi enduro on the 6th and Penrith Merida the weekend after.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Late evening ride

What a day! The weather has been fantastic in the land of Wraxall. Unfortunately I had a fair amount of work on today, and several conference calls, but Sarah has been doing her best dervish impression. It's Easter holidays for Mrs. G and she has been in full on Spring Cleaning mode. At times it has been like a can almost see the rotating blur of the Tasmanian Devil.

Given that the sun has been shining, Mrs. G has been busy the garden. A cut of the grass and several snips of the pruning shears has reduced the garden to around six inches at most. Aside for a short sojourn in the garden at lunch time I have been confined to the study. After my 5pm conference call I could take it no more...I slipped on my cycling kit and grabbed the Mather for a 40 minute evening blast. You've got to love the simplicity of the Rohloff 29er.

The trails have dried out enormously in the last week or two. My last trip out two weeks ago was an absolute mudfest. When I walked the Truckle hill trail on Saturday night it was crispy dry for the most part. With the sun gently warming my back and dry trails under the wheels it felt great to get out...

One little puncture aside, the ride was a joy. Now that the evenings are getting longer it will be great to venture away from the turbo trainer.

Brecon Beacons Horseshoe

Following on from last week's walk in the Black Mountains, Sarah and I decided to take advantage of another fantastic weather window and head over to Brecon Beacons for the day.

Sarah was having problems with the first set of boots that we bought her (heel slippage) and has decided to try out another pair (the ladies equivalent of mine). Taking into account the fantastic weather and the need to give her new boots and good breaking in, we decided to try and complete the Br
econ Beacons Horseshoe. The guide book suggested a six hour round trip over 15.3k. Given that we only arrived at 1pm we has to get our skates on. As it happened, the whole circuit only took 4 hours and 45 minutes.

The horseshoe circuit felt very different to last week's walk in the Black Mountains. It felt much more like a walk in the Lakes or Snowdonia. The hills were significantly drier underfoot and the ridgeline walks
more exposed. I can safely say that I wasn't expecting the level of exposure you feel on the climb up Cribyn (795m). The route we approached from felt extremely exposed and in the strong winds towards the summit we both felt a little on edge (as can be seen in the scuff marks on the toe box of Sarah's boots).

Once up Cribyn, the paths were much more established. The steep descent into the cwm between Cribyn and Pen y Fan is well constructed, as is the climb up to the summit. I was surprised at how few people there were on Pen y Fan (886m). I was expecting it to be a real scrum given that it is the start of the Easter holidays (and a wonderful day) but the summit only had a few people scattered about.

The short drop down and up to Corn Du (873m) only took 10 minutes or so. The views down to Llyn Cwm Llwch lake were stunning and the wind was picking up; so we decided to descend into the valley, our route back to the car. The ridgeline walk to the memorial to Tommy Jones was exceptionally windy (ass can be seen in the photo). However, when we dropped past the lake the winds died down and the final walk in to the road was fantastic. The walk had a sting in the tail with a 2k road walk uphill to the car. We were both craving the second half of our sandwiches so 2k seemed to take forever.

Another 3 2500' peaks down now...only the Black Mountain to go now. Looks like we are going to have to plan a trip to Snowdonia soon.