So, We’re out of lockdown, Wales is (mostly) still in lockdown, it’s October and the weather has turned for the worse a tad (as you’d reasonably expect for this time of year). So, instead of cleaning the bike and finding something warm to do, Tommy decided to book himself a week off at the beginning of October for a visit to the Wye Valley.
Why there? – Well, YouTube is why. Did I mention the weather?. Since it’s been a little unpleasant, and also because neither I nor Tommy are so obsessed with keeping fit that getting wet, or blown around in strong winds is a fun way of spending time we found that instead of actually going out and riding, the new fun past-time was to find Mountain Bike Videos on YouTube. I (being the old sensible one) was, and am, more than happy with our nice flat not taxing circular Canvey route. I’m also happy with the slightly more tortuous climb to Hadleigh Park and more recently, I actually enjoy being less sensible and hitting some of the old Olympic trails at speed.
You can keep your rock gardens. Although very Zen, they’re nowhere near as fun as the double slalom, and the gap jump and the switchbacks and the really muddy, fast flowy bermy section, and the….. Oh, hang on I digress.
There’s a LOT of content on that platform, you name somewhere, and there’s almost certainly a video of someone riding there. Over a period of weeks, one that kept throwing up exciting trail footage was in the Wye Valley, there are (it seems) a bunch of blue red and black trails there, all well designed and all (according to YouTube) much fun to ride. Tommy, having holiday to spend, decided that he was going to pack his bike in the car, find a cheap hotel and spend a few days bombing around the trails in the Forest of Dean.
I’m still not entirely sure how it happened, but I do think there may have been wine involved again, but things escalated fairly quickly and I was also to be included in this venture. Despite the trails looking rather exciting (by which I mean potentially dangerous), little thought was given to our actual ability and bike skills. I barely remember how to bunny hop a bike and my reactions aren’t quite what they used to be but hey, what could possibly go wrong?
So, without further ado a room was booked at Raglan Lodge on the A40 in Monmouthshire. Chosen primarily for the exceptionally reasonable price of £40 per night it turned out to be a great location for biking into Raglan to the pub , as well as being a short drive to the trail head in the forest.
Given that my suspension was still seized up, the decision was made to take Alfie’s bike as that was fully functional (or so I thought – more on this later) so with bags packed, bikes loaded and the first sight of sunshine in over a week we set off for the M4 and our adventure in Wales via the shit-block of the M25, which as is pretty much always the case was at a standstill.