Went to Bike Park Wales today with Crust, it was advertised as a Downhill orientated bike park.
We turned up fairly early and looking in the carpark at the other riders i walked into the nicely stocked shop i decided to invest in a full face helmet and picked up a BELL, reason was, it fitted well and was well vented, it felt right the correct choice, the report later will show whether i made the correct decision or not.
We decided to do the trail based climb as it was our first time. It was a woodland based climb, it was quite tough, but far from ridiculous. rooty, rockey and semi-technical, well as far as climbs go. I'd compare it to Whites level at Afan, it keeps you interested and takes your mind off the fact you're climbing for 40 mins.
The Commencal Meta AM29 was set to 'trail' and the suspension was nice, firm and stiff, but not silly.
We started off with the Blue route 'Sixtapod' this is very much as you'd expect in the genre the trail build Rowan Sorrel build, fast swoopy semi technical berms, not too complex, small rises to slow you back down when it gets too fast, small jumps, drops and what is a fairly sensible introduction. I noticed on this trail that no matter what i did, i couldn't keep crust at the same disatnce, this sort of stuff is his bread and butter, it's the stuff he trains on, the stuff he rides and the stuff his skills really come to the fore. It was a brilliant descent and we headed straight back into the uphill, getting it marked off and out of the way.
We then moved onto the Red. "Summary: Wibbly Wobbly, is rocky and loose at the top, amazingly fast and features a brilliant natural rock gap jump. As soon as you hit the woods the character changes and the trail narrows before opening up again for a fast set of grade reversals"
This was a totally different kettle of fish to the Blue, rocky, when i say rocky, it's more flat boulders and rocks than small rocky bits, rocks with jumps, rocks with drops and rocks with trees. I found the Meta AM totally in it's element here, bouncing, bounding and flying down the trail with me screaming in my full face at Crust to get out of the way... he was slowing me down and holding me up as the Meta battered it's way through the down. then onto " Rim Dinger -Summary- This has to be the most talked about trail at BikePark Wales. This section of red trail may have claimed more punctures than any other trail in Wales but boy is it worth it! 1.2Km of sublime rock gardens linked by berms, jumps, rock ladders and step downs, we challenge you not to enjoy this trail
We jumped on the uplift mini-bus and i decided at the top to take the Red again, "Vicious Valley -Summary- Made famous by Tracy Mosely in episode 3 of the making of BikePark Wales series, Vicious Valley is a very tight, very fast red trail that has been surfaced to roll fast and be ridable in all weathers. Don't be lulled in to a false sense of security though, there are plenty of roots to catch you out and a road gap for those who fancy"
Jesus, this was the next stuff up from the last Red we did and larger drops, jumps, roots and steeper descents.. it was arguably above my techincal limit, but the Meta compensated for my lack of skills and mostly just ploughed through things and oblisterated the trails.
We then stopped for lunch and had another climb ourselves and got to the top with the minimal of fuss, onto again the Blue from this morning, but picking up speed, once again, compared to my riding buddy, i was left wanting, he just carries that bit more speed than me, that extra little bit which meant he ends the sections 20s ahead of me. .but DAMN i worked hard... flying down the berms, nailing the jumps and trying my best.. i got the end of the blue breathing harder than i had all day... looking for gulps of air.
Overall, i was exceptionally pleased with the MetaAm. It is a massive 'skills compensator' but you know what, i can live with that. It climbs well enough, despite weighing as much as a car, but it flies down the tech stuff like it doesn't exist.
Bike Park Wales, well, i can't see why anyone would ride Afan, Llandegla or Cwmcarn again when this exists. It's the closest thing to the Alps we can find in the south of UK, it gives adrenalin, excitement, fear and speed all in a massive hit of endorphins. The rest of the trailcentres may as well close their doors now from my perspective, they can all give up.
The cafe, shop, facilites are all brilliant, great food, reasonable prices and cracking portions of cake and flapjacks.
Keep this going and they're onto a winner.
I ended the day with 4 pints of San Miguel in the local and tea with my wife and my boy..
This is life.. it doesn't get any better... never ever ever...
When i'm lying on my bed peeing myself through old age... i'll think back to my first time at BPW with happiness.