Friday 22nd October 2010 saw the culmination of a complex series of arrangements to get 14 TIMBER members, their bikes and kit at Cambridge Services ready for the first TIMBER road trip to Wales. This further marked TIMBER's transformation from a group that just digs trails to a group that actually goes out and has some fun - a transformation that began in the Summer with race and fitness training.
The journey to Penmachno was uneventful and the weather looked hopeful for a good ride - right up until the point we turned into the car park when the heavens opened. But we weren't going to let a bit of dampness stop us, so after a bit of faffing we were all soon off up the mountain.
For a lot of us Penmachno was our first experience of a Welsh trail and we weren't disappointed. It seemed fast and smooth with plenty of great singletrack, but enough technical bits to keep us on our toes. It's a long route (20km) with a lot of climbing (600m), but some of us felt we still had the energy to do the 10km extension.
Unfortunately, partial chaos ensued with the group splitting up and the first lot of riders getting back more than an hour before the rest. A worrying time was spent waiting for the rest to return in worsening rain. This earned us stern telling off from our leader after dinner at the bunk house. The lesson - if you ride as a group, you must stay together, especially in wild country.
Group casualties: One face plant, out of order bike (disintegrated star nut) and exhaustion induced vomiting!
We were staying at the highly recommended Torrent bunk house in Dolgellau which offered cheap and cheerful accommodation to a high standard. Berm Bandit and ShonkyJohn were doing the cooking honours - and everyone seemed more than happy with the food.
This next days trails were at Coed y Brenin - the UK mountain bike Mecca - and the sun had come out for us. We were determined to stay together this time, so we split into more manageable groups. The first trail we rode was the 20km Tarw trail with 450m of ascent. This consists of sections of double track connected with with tricky rocky sections.
This left us wanting more, so some of us set off to do the Cyflym Coch trail which takes in some of the black sections of The Beast. This includes some great swoopy sections with large berms bringing smiles to everyone's faces.
Group casualties: Badly bruised ribs from an off on the trail, bent toes due to a bunk bed incident!
The night had been spent around the camp fire after a fine meal of Thai chicken curry cooked by Graham. The morning arrived and it was already time to turn back towards home. But first we were going to ride the trails at Coed Llandegla.
The trails at Llandegla are impressive considering the amount of work that must have gone into building them. We rode the red intermediate route with the black offshoot sections. The trails are generally smooth with steep slopes and massive berms encouraging you to keep up your speed. Highlights include the high board-walk, JJ's Jumps and some of the climbs. To say we all enjoyed ourselves is an understatement.
Group casualties: Sore heads - something we drank? Dead rear shock.
The trip home passed quickly with a visit to one of Heston Blumenthal Little Chef's in Kettering. Everyone had a great time and many of us will definitely be going back to Wales!