MTB Welsh week-ender

by Charlie Mortleman

Always going to be interesting this one, with protaganists including regulars “the 4 amigos” (me, Sally, Big Al and Baz), occasional Andy Linney, and week-ender virgins Andy Evans, Pete (non Tri Club) and his eminence Martin Brown (no less). Simon “Blewitt” Truett had to pull out at the last minute.

Mantlebus arrived at the “luxury(?)” camping barn at about 1130, having completed advanced bike origami to get the bikes on the rack. (Thankfully, Andy L had a novel approach to a cycling week-end: he didn’t bring a bike, making origami a bit simpler). Baz and co had arrived earlier, and were down the pub. Cracked open a beer –Martin’s first # 1of the week-end: “this is the first beer I’ve had after midnight since I was about 16”.

We examined Baz’s rather natty motorbike trailer MTB conversion. “When did you do that?”. “This morning; I’ve got to dismantle it on Monday, work want their shelves back”.
(Every MTB week-end needs a Baz).

Up to a bright start on Saturday. Muesli for most, full fry up for Alan, Huevos a la Mexicana (scrambled egg with tomato, onion and lots of fresh chilli) for me and Andy L., and headed down to Coed y Brenin to pick up a hire bike for Andy L, Martin and Andy E looking particularly resplendent in nose to tail Tri Club Lycra.

10 man camping barn with a view


2 triathletes accidentally dropped into a parallel universe

In retrospect, taking everyone round the black graded MBR trail straight off was perhaps a bit harsh. This lead to a rapid sartorial re-appraisal by Andy E, who was only too happy to borrow Sally’s knee pads. Certainly saw the whites of a few eyes.

Lara Evans, Enduro Raider

Martin kept us entertained for most of the afternoon with numerous punctures (“did you check the tyre?”. “Of course”.  “So why did it go down again straight-away?” I thought I’d check and promptly impaled myself on 2 thorns) and a lost Garmin (later retrieved, black box style, at one of many crash sites).

Commendable effort, with 24 miles covered by most over some pretty challenging terrain.

Anyone seen my  tyre lever? It pinged orffff…….

Saturday night saw Martin’s first #2 – watching a rugby game (when he was awake at least). We tried to go incognito – Alun Lewis, Bleddyn Brown, Daffyd Mortleman, Ivor Evans….. Less said about the game the better. “So what did you think Martin?”. “Well it seemed to me that it’s hard to score if you don’t have the ball”. 

(Perceptive indeed, Stuart Lancaster should take note – I have sent Martin’s England Coach application to Twickenham).

Back to the barn for some ribald joke telling and flatulence, much to Sally’s disgust. Many blokes stomping around in the night to go for a wee – “God, it’s like having 7 hubbies…..”

Sunday was Enduro day. Myself and Sally pushed towards the front of the 600 ish mass start; most of the others went for a coffee. Martin joined us then saw the long climb up Sarn Helen Roman Road as an opportunity to disappear into the distance. I hoped to catch up on the technical bits……. There were 55km and 30km loops of the forest park. It wasn’t all on manicured tracks either – far from it. The course took in some of the Sarn Helen Roman road, before heading across the road to take on the ‘old’ and original side of the CyB trails, where plenty of awkward, rocky tracks awaited. Then it was back over the ‘new’ side for a tour of some of the lesser-seen trails and linking tracks (and a lot of climbing!) before a fast run in to the finish downs some of the old trails that are still there, but forgotten by most riders.

Pre-match nerves

Myself and Sally had a steady ride (until a puncture intervened), Sally slightly less animated than last year due to having concentrated on dual carriageways most of the year. This had good and bad bits: it was less intense and we finished a fair bit down on last year;  but we got to stop at the feed station (sausage rolls with chilli and gin sauce….)!. We joined up with Alan and Baz towards the end and all finished quite close together.

Lara Evans in action

Big kudos especially to Andy E for completing the 55km route first time out on a MTB. Top week-end which saw Martin especially attain knobbly status (and buy the shop out of inner tubes, which he incidentally left in the barn on race day…). No sign of him ditching the lycra though…)

Snow White and the seven knobblies (well one was holding the camera)