Wales Oct 19
Updated: Apr 8
25th – 27th October – The SHABI’s visit Wales
It was stupid O’Clock in the morning in the sleepy towns and villages of Hampshire and Surrey and all was quiet but then, without warning, the roar of high emission diesel and petrol engines fills the atmosphere as the SHABi’s set off for Wales.
Despite the red/amber high flood and torrential rain warnings and advice from the BBC to stay indoors, nothing, but nothing, was going to get in the way of a day of downhill riding at Bike Park Wales. Well I say that, but Genghis felt the risk of sunburn to be “high” and therefore decided to forego the trip
So the riders now included; Smashie and Chuffy in the new van, Love Bus Driver in the Love Bus, Daisy, Fracker, Faff Cheeks, Ming and our very own C2C7.
The groups reached BPW in various stages and instead of sticking to the plan of meeting at the café, everyone gets straight on with riding the trails. Daisy was not happy about this and expressed his feelings in BLOCK CAPITALS.
The conditions at BPW were shall we say, “a little damp”, with heavy dew causing rivers of water to run down the trails. Water seemed to be oozing out of the mountain from every possible crevice.
So we start the trails with Chuff and C2C7 anxious to “do some red” whilst Smashie was determined not have any crashes so soon in the weekend being unable to see with his glasses on (misted up and covered in mud and rain drops) or see with them off (systematic overindulgence in pleasuring himself from a young age has rendered our Smashie very short-sighted).
It takes a while and soon enough reports come in that Daisy has taken a tumble and Chuffy runs his pedals down the back of his legs – there is blood but both our heroes carry on regardless.
So we meet up at the Café for lunch. It is here that we witness one of those life changing shocks that means it will never be the same again. Ming has a BPW burger and declares it was “quite tasty”. For a man who normally eats wholemeal cardboard and slimline water this is very shocking.
We find out that the uplift now operates all day without a break so before Daisy can make it back, the rest of us bugger off to do some more trails leaving Daisy to curse once more as this was clearly a deviation from the plan AGAIN. The SHABI’s are bollocked for illegal riding on the road – we claim we are idiots and all is forgotten. Some riders get to ride on the Mega uplift bus – Its big.
The light is now fading and the “uplift” buses are now only patronised by SHABI’s as the rest have all gone home. We decide to do one final run and meet a chap with an anemometer measuring wind speed on the top. He measures 32 mph and when asked, confirmed that at 33mph the park is closed. We decided to do another run just for the hell of it but without Chuffy who suffers from a brake calliper failure. All reds and blues completed including; Poppety Ping, Melted Welly, Roller Disco, First bump, Terry’s Belly, Blue Belle and Sixtapod – oh yes.
Paul meets his best friend – a lady from work of whom he has the highest professional respect – ask him about her when you next meet him. He talks a lot in Anglo-Saxon.
We arrive at the café/offices/bike shop and find Chuffy weeping on the ground. His pads are worn through to the metal. So he buys a new set for £75.90 (BPW prices) and we try and get his bike back together. We borrow a special tool to force the brake calliper pistons back into place but they resist and resist. Bearing in mind the light was fading, it was pissing with rain, and this was a clear case of poor/inadequate maintenance, I must commend all those who stuck with it and got those flucking pistons back into the calliper.
Hero points for Faff Cheeks for borrowing the jet wash whilst no-one was looking and washing anything that looked like a bike that belonged to a SHABI.
Then the painful but very necessary changing into some dry clothes and putting the bikes away ready for Saturday.
We set the Satnav’s for the Penhros Arms and head for deepest darkest Wales. Coming over the Brecon Beacons we admire huge plumes of water cascading down the hills – really impressive. The van is running on fumes, as is C2C7, so we divert off to find the Fuelling station in the middle of nowhere. We don’t realise that Faff Cheeks and other are following and mass confusion results.
The drive north is a bit frustrating as we get stuck behind the slowest drivers in the world but nevertheless arrive in Cemmaes Road at about the same time and settle down to a great meal in true Mrs Miggins style.
Faff Cheeks goes straight for the PIG CHEEKS option and dear readers you can now see the origins of his third nickname in as many days – it official – Faff Cheeks. No more dramas and we all head for bedibies and don’t bother counting sheep.
When you think SHABI – think prepared …NOT
We wake the following morning and at Signal Surveyors Global HQ (Wales), C2C7, Fracker and Smashie get ready for departure. That’s all of us except Chuffy who has brake failure. So C2C7, Smashie and Fracker set up camp under the awning of the railway wagon (off-site storage facility) and set to work. There is brake fluid everywhere as, in the near total darkness, we bleed the brakes and refill the fluid reservoir with Mineral oil. The difference between Mineral Oil and DOT 5 brake fluid is the subject of a fascinating and comprehensive treatise by Binky BykeKnut at the end of this blog.
So finally after much pumping of the brake leaver, Chuff declares that its not working and he will stay indoors and watch the rugby. There is no support for this idea and he is forced to come to the Penhros for breakfast.
All is good at breakfast and we are about ready to go when Chuffy realises he has left his Camelbak at Signal Surveyors HQ – what a tit. Fracker volunteers to go fetch it – hero point for Fracker.
While we're waiting - we catch the weather forecast:
So 9:30 came and went, our guide Keith Morey arrived and we waited and waited.
Eventually Chuff arrives back along Fracker and Faff Cheeks declares himself ready.
So we eventually arrive at the Climaxx at about 10:30 – very poor show SHABI’s consider yourself bollocked.
So we fettle the bikes and immediately our Daisy realises his brake pads are worn through to the metal. So more flucking around whilst these are changed.
Ready to go yet? Nope – Faff Cheeks takes off his knee pads.
Finally we set off and within ten feed Chuff’s chain comes off and Fracker falls off his bike – yes that’s within 10 feet, not ten miles, or ten yards. Keith must have thought he had got the Dumb and Dumber club for the day.
So then we do the Climaxx climb and unless you have done it before you cannot describe just how long it grinds on – it just keeps giving. Faff Cheeks stops to put his knee pads back on.
We get to the top and the first section of singletrack. C2C7 misjudges a puddle and falls into a stream – he is reluctant to stay still so that LBD can take a photo – very disappointing.
Then we head on up and reach the “off-piste” trail known as the “elephant”. It is STEEP and rocky and narrow. Lesson number one. DO NOT follow the rider in front too closely.
Much comedy riding from everyone. LBD takes a terrific tumble. One minute he is on the bike with everything under control, the next minute the bike is still on the trail, but LBD is no-where to be seen. Smashie discovers him way down a bank upside down in a tree. Undignified but no damage done.
Then more single track. I say single track but single stream might be a better description. Faff cheeks takes his knee pads off again and has a lie down in a ditch and then another lie down a little further on.
Then a Climaxx trail leading to an off-piste called Dickoes – great descent dropping from the top to the bottom. The mud, shale and rocks makes for great riding where confidence is rewarded and over use of the brakes “inadvisable”. Faff Cheeks has another fall and puts his knee pads back on.
Then up a long firetrack section and another off-piste trail called “Builth Wells”. Super technical and a LOT of water on the tail including a section where the riders have to ford a stream. Smashie is DRM and enters a section of bare rock sloping “off camber” with Faff cheeks in the middle having a “shall I put on my knee pads” moments. After some internal debate with his imaginary friend he lost the argument and continued to the bottom. Overall Faff Cheeks must be commended for taking on some serious downhill with very limited experience and managing to keep smiling.
Then we track back up again and it is a bit of a grind which after 3 hours in the rain sees our heroes pretty cold and wet.
We have a rest and Faff Cheeks changes his water proof and changes his Knee pads. We then head towards the final descent. We have now learnt the lesson that it is best to leave a good gap and we make good progress to the first rocky outcrop where we have to walk a bit to the viewpoint. The rain clears and we have a great view of Cader Idris and the village of Corris below.
We set off for the final decent and we negotiate huge rock slabs and drop offs, dastardly corners. Faff Cheeks puts his knees pads back on and Fracker has a little lie down in the bracken. FANTASTIC riding taking your heroes to the limit. A final rock face with a steep climb followed by a precipitous dip downwards over a sharp rock. Real heart in mouth stuff.
We get back to the carpark elated.
We get changed again and agree to rendezvous at the Slaters Arms for a drink before we tackle the real challenge of the trip … an Indian at the Taj Mahal. Would the SHABI heroes survive the zero-health rating and the complete lack of any recommendation from Google.
Meeting at the Slaters Arms we admire the barmaids dressed as Ghouls and the presence of security guards. We get a great welcome and a great pint of lime a soda (the SHABi’s know how to get completely shit faced).
Then, suitably prepared, we hit the Taj. Faff Cheeks introduces us to the concept of the “Datum meal” against which every other meal is judged. The Datum meal for any Indian is the Jalfrezi according to our hero and promptly ordered the same. The rest ordered a variety of dishes but when the waiter was asked to recommend, he replied that “he never eats at the restaurant and always eats at home…” hmmm not exactly a recommendation.
Fracker manages to get his “little otter” joke in twice – hero points all round.
It seems that things have improved at the Taj as the Chicken Tikka was actually edible and the wine list was no longer in crayon. The general consensus was that this Indian was compatible with the datum set by the Jalfrezi and that a revisit is warranted.
So we go home and go to bed completely exhausted.
The B Team arrive back at Signal HQ and Fracker falls out of the car punching Chuffy on the way – he is arrested but released because everyone agrees that Chuffy “deserved it” after the Camelbak / brake bleeding fiasco. C2C7 snores at a level requiring ear defenders by the other occupants.
We awake Sunday and are determined to get going on time and all starts promisingly however Faff Cheeks has a “moment” and goes back to his room to put on his knee pads.
FINALLY we depart for Machynlleth and we set off up the road in good order on our bikes. Before long we have another mechanical with Fracker needing a new set of brake pads. Others mess around with a pair of Christmas trees “dumped” on the road side.
Then some serious climbing through beautiful autumnal woods and fields. I’ll let the pictures do the talking – it was beautiful.
We complete a final descent and LBD has another terrific fall caused by Faff Cheeks and Fracker stopping on the trail – LBD’s fault as he should have left more room. Luckily no injuries.
Then surprise surprise, Faff Cheeks manages to cross the “bamboo” bridge of incontinence and was the only one to do it cleanly – what a result on the final decent.
We arrive back at the vehicles and pack up as quickly as possible heading for home.
Overall a fantastic weekend and another brilliant bit of guiding from Steeve and Keith at Wheelism
I Love you all