Fat Bike Limits… And beyond – 18th August
I met up with the MTB Britain crowd at the Rhayader Leisure centre at 10am with the plan being we’d set off at 10:30 and ride the Rhayader Round Loop http://www.mtbbritain.co.uk/rhayader_round_route.html
Now I’ve ridden in this area quite a bit and the riding and view are fantastic. Looking at the route, the final descent back into Rhayader I’d done before, but the rest was new to me. Everyone else was riding full sussers, Orange 5s and the like, with the Mukluk being well and truely the odd one out!
The forecast had been for grey skys and occasional drizzle in the morning with it clearing up just after dinner, and it looked like they’d got the first bit right, however with the temperature in the high teens it was fine.
We headed out of Rhayader towards Elan Village, but turned off national cycle route 8 at Aberceithon and traversed the side of the mountain gradually gaining altitude. A bridleway at Nant Madog took us off the tarmac and ran parallel to the stream. The climb was rideable, but the wet rocks were like ice, normal sized tyres stood no chance, and the Mukluk did no better.
Over the top, and we were looking down on Garreg-Ddu reservoir. A quick down and up through Nant Dolfolau and we reached ‘The Gully” a really nice rocky chute that dropped down towards the reservoir. After a few minutes checking out the line most people sucessfully rode it. A grassy descent now took us all the way down to the road along the Eastern shore.
We headed north till we turned off the tarmac and started to head up the bridleway along Nant y Blymbren, a slow grassy traverse that eventually got us up onto the top of Bwlch Croesnewydd. A quick dinner stop and some “is it this way”…. “no it’s that way” before we headed down a bridleway that would eventually join the first road climb.
Back up and over the Nant Madog climb, and following a couple of other riders down “The Gully”. Well sort of. I got halfway down only to find one of them standing watching…. but on the line I was going to take. A push back up and a second attempt, but this time he’d taken the hint (“bloody hell mate, you’re standing on the decent line down this!”)
Back on the road we now had a long ride up to Craig Goch Reservoir. Now the sky had cleared and we rode through the light and shade under the trees. Before long we’d got to the Dam, and now swung around the bridleway that gradually climbs the side of the reservoir. The ford at the bottom of Rhiw Caws signalled the start of the final big climb of the day. I’ve ridden this one many times, it’s exposed, and just seems to keep on going. It even does a nice 90deg turn at 430m so you can see the gradient you’ve still got to ride!
The Mukluk climbed like a mountain goat, for a big heavy bike it’s astonishing that it can climb so well. I put it down to the grip the rear tyre has. On normal mountain bikes, when it gets really steep I tend to stamp on the pedals and this just loses traction and it’s game over, with the Muk I can stamp as hard as I want and 90% of the time it’ll keep going up.
At the top of Esgair Perfedd I waited for everyone to catch up and we carried on down the side of the Gwynllyn Valley till we got to the mountain road that heads out of Rhayader and up over the Cambrians. We turned left and climbed on tarmac to the top of the old roman road Byway that heads down into the outskirts of Rhayader.
A quick stop for a snack and for Mukluk ‘test rides’ with everyone coming back with the customary grin and “that’s totally mad” comment. The first section of the old road has been cut up quite badly by 4x4s leaving deep pools either side of the track. Initially most people tried to ride the ridge down the middle, but after dropping off into pools everyone had wet feet, so the kid mentality of trying to make as big a splash as possible prevailed… the Muk won that contest by a country mile!
Passing the Maen Serth standing stone meant we were entering the fast rocky descent that drops 170m in…. well not far! The descent is made up of rocky steps then a flat section, and this repeats pretty much all the way down.
I headed down second, determined to get down as fast as the full suspension bikes I was with. And over halfway down we were doing great till after a rock step (I think) I landed the front slightly off line, the bars kicked, and then kicked in the opposite direction, this happened at least 3 times that I can remember, with the distance the bars were moving getting greater everytime. A classic motorcycle ‘tank slapper’. Eventually I lost my grip on the right…. and the descent was only going to end one way from here!………..
Ride – #139 Bike – ’12 Salsa Mukluk
Miles – 22.3 Total 2012 miles – 2975.8
Strava – http://app.strava.com/rides/18948994
If you’re a bit squeemish don’t look at the photo below (Mum)