Its been a busy week for me at work, and at home – doing a lot of maintenance to Bertha, and trying to rest up in between to try to recover from my injuries. All of that hasn’t left me with much time, so I’ve been quiet for a week. Yes, I know “Glen you could be writing when you’re resting”, I know. However I can’t write if I don’t have anything to write about.
I did have a plan to produce a little instructional on how to bleed Hayes Stroker brakes and change the pads on them, using Bertha as the glamorous model. I might still do this, but we have much more to talk about now!
So at 6am on Friday morning I loaded up the car and set off on the motorway to Bike Park Wales for my first ever uplift day. What a day it was too! I arrived at 9:30am ish, and managed to get checked in, bike set up and padded up ready to jump on the 10am uplift bus. Luckily I wasn’t alone, and the guys I was riding with had been to BPW before, so recommended runs and combinations of runs for us to do, and helped me with pointers and advice all day.
When you arrive at BPW, you can park up in the car park, which has lots of small sections, good for about 6 cars each. That in itself is really clever, it lets people park up and get bikes built up without being in the way of loads of carpark traffic. It’s also great to allow you to meet up with friends, I even saw people BBQing in these little sections with their friends!
So once you’re parked up in your own little section, its advised you leave all of your kit in the car and walk up to the visitor centre to sign in. The centre is great! a reception desk right in front of the door to sign in at. There were plenty of people milling around when I got there but it only took 10 mins to get signed in. The facilities are all great and clean, restaurant looked to be serving great food, and chilled drinks (including BPW beers) all day. The centre also has a great little shop and fantastic workshop (which we will talk about more a little later).
After signing in, building the bikes and getting padded up, we pushed up to the centre again, and headed off down the short trail that links the centre to the bottom of the uplift. I struggled along this first time as I was a bit daft and took a 2L bottle of water with me to leave at the bottom rather than riding with my hydration pack. I hate riding DH with my hydration pack on, this was a mistake due to the weather, which as you can see from the pics was amazing.
That little link trail is awesome, I rode it a few times through the day, its full of berms and table tops, everything is rollable, but the jumps do let you show off for the fixed camera position if you’re so inclined. You can then go and buy the pictures of you getting air time for about £4 at the end of the day. I didn’t do this as I wasn’t doing much jumping due to my ribs and shoulder.
After a quick lesson in strapping the bikes into the trailer from the friendly drivers, its a 10-15 min drive to the top. Bikes unloaded and very short ride, you meet the trail head:
Oh, and some spectacular views:
The trailhead is fully equipped with trail maps, information, benches and a covered area with tools on cables to help out with any last minute maintenance.
All of the trails are way marked and all are named in the corresponding trail grade colour. What I would say here is that the trails are a grade above anywhere else, so a red here is a black anywhere else. All of the trails I rode were amazing though. They all start with a qualifier obstacle of the relevant grade – so if you are unable to ride that, you should not be riding down the rest of the trail. This is a brilliant way to preventing people riding trails way beyond their limits, and spacing out the crowds.
The trails themselves are amazing. BPW have a full time trail crew who are constantly maintaining the trails, and building extensions or new trails. This does mean that different trails will be closed for maintenance each day or week, but this doesn’t spoil your day, as there are so many other trails to ride. There is such a wide selection on offer too, from the A470 line which is endless tabletops, doubles and berms, through rim dinger which is a 3 minute rock garden (3 mins of hell for a broken rib), to Vicious Valley – a quick, tight, technical “Proper” DH style trail.
Now lets circle back to that workshop I mentioned earlier. Well, on my 2nd run of the day, I’m headed down a very fast and flowy run (not sure on the name), its a wonderful hot day, the sky’s are blue, by brakes have been bled and both have new pads on, Bertha is running smooth. No, wait, why am I not slowing down?! I’ve got the back brake fully compressed! Oh dear! Right…. evasive action…. slowly apply the front brake…. get that foot down. Thats better, we’re slowing down now.
So back to the visitor centre for a change of underwear! Then a trip into the shop, quick chat with a mechanic and we agree that a piston on my back brake has failed. That makes it scrap. Now I have a decision to make; do I sit at the benches outside all day while my friends carry on riding (wasting the £35 ticket fee), or do I buy a new rear brake (at what I’m expecting will be extortionate Bike Park prices) and get some runs in maybe after lunch.
Well out comes the wallet, I stump for a new Shimano XT rear brake and disk. I’m then surprised once again to be told that the total cost is £165 including fitting, and it’ll be done in around 30 mins! So not only are the prices competitive, the workshop works quicker than a LBS!! Great!
A 30 minute tanning session outside on the benches and I was back riding. Fantastic. Back to the uplift for another 4 runs. What a great, if a little expensive, day. I’ll be booking up again very soon.
What a place, I cant wait to go back fully healthy and hit a few more of the jump lines. I had such a great day and feel like my riding improved over the course of the day. I’m sure we could have squeezed one more run in, however on the last run I was struggling to lift Bertha onto the trailer, so calling it a day when we did may well have saved me from a big crash. Now I’m looking forward to the Forest Of Dean uplift day in the middle of next month.