Some of you may remember I went to the original Mtbmeetup last February at Coed-y-brenin, it was a damp affair but character building weather wasn’t going to stop us enjoying ourselves. This year was to be entirely different. Si Bradley (@_Si_Bradley) had arranged the meetup for April this time hoping to avoid the worst of the weather.. He certainly succeeded!
So a trip to OPA Llandegla afoot. I’d never been before (like many venues lol) but from speaking to other riders I’d met before on twitter it was going to be a cracking weekend.
I left work on the Friday at midday hoping to get to the campsite that had been found for us all to use at a reasonable time. llyn rhys campsite is a lovely peaceful site set a mere 2 miles from the Llandegla forest, ample washing and cleaning facilities and the crown hotel just across the road boaded very well. I met up with some familiar faces that I’d met up with previously and a couple of new ones.. We set up camp then it was off to the crown to meet up with Si Bradley for a catch up and a bite to eat. Food was hot and tasty and beer cold and refreshing just what we all needed. A few more people arrived as the evening went on before I decided to hit the hay and try to get some sleep.
As per usual pre an event like this a mix of apprehension and excitement mean that my body’s chances of a good nights sleep weren’t really happening but it certainly could of been worse my van providing a warm and quiet environment. Following morning and I’m up early… 6:30 and I’m heading for a shower.. I spot a van parked by the entrance of the campsite adorned in AllianceMTB stickers… Ooo I’ve chatted to him on twitter.. Bit early for introductions at this point so I have a shower to freshen up. Back to the van, breakfast eaten and I start to sort my bike kit out as my camp mates begin to surface. It’s a bit chilly and overcast but hey at least it’s dry! I wonder to the wash room and the AllianceMTB van is open, Thomas and I introduce ourselves to Chris and all agree to meet up for a natter at the forest park just after 9.
Myself, Stuart and Ben decide to ride the road route up to the Forest expecting it to be busy.. We weren’t wrong. The car park was filling fast and we struggled to find spaces for our bikes on the racks. This was set to be a good.. No not good, that’s far to bland a word… An Epic day! I meet a few more familiar faces, quick hello to Si and Rach who are both rushing around sorting raffle tickets, goody bags..
Their hard work makes this happen and for this I can but thank them.
Myself and Sam spot Badger the owner of the forest who I met for the first time in the pub last night, he waves us over and we get a well needed brew and have a chat. Badger (I don’t even know his real name but everyone calls him this and he responds so all is well) comments that he’s never known weather like this in April.. The sun’s started burning through.. It’s almost 10am and we’re all amazed to be in Wales in the dry! There’s a bit of frenzy as we all shuffle through the conference room to collect some raffle tickets.
As we all relax on the decking outside spotting familiar faces and a few hellos and trying to work out who is who from those we don’t recognise. Si pops out and says a few words, other companies have come along to display their products, vee tire, sealskinzs and odpod all have eezi up gazebos outside. A few splinter off to the Forest, some go on a free skills course by Steve @chasingtrails, a few more go on a photography course laid on by professional photographer Chris Davies. I chat with Thomas and Chris and we agree to wait for Si so we can all ride the route together.
We’d decided to ride the red/black loop, all routes follow the same first climb which is a nice social double track affair for plenty of chatting and giving your legs a chance to warm up. The descents are amazing, you get to the bottom of each section with a big grin and an adrenalin high. There are a few steep climbs to negotiate but nothing too taxing… Honest!
After swooping up and down through the forest for quite some time we make it back to the centre… The bbq is on and Kirkby lonsdale brewery have brought along a custom brewed ale for us to drink.. For free! I’m not a big ale fan but I gave it a try… It was nice, light and refreshing with a nice taste.. Apparently not an easy task from what I am told by some regular ale drinkers. Myself and Chris (AllianceMTB) visit the bbq where we get a choice of meats, we both opt for garlic chicken (said in a Peter kay voice). Food eaten, beer drunk…. What an awesome day, the raffle starts to be drawn, there are masses of prizes donated by some amazing companies all to help some charities. This generosity is astounding, there’s everything from mugs to hats, to t-shirts, jerseys, energy supplements, books, bags, tyres and even a bike bag! I managed to get myself an evoc t-shirt which I was very pleased with.
Raffle over and we head out for another loop, this time we are going to ride the blue loop. Not quite so technical but fast and flowy like all good blue routes should be. We get back and the afternoon is drawing in, people who are visiting for the day begin to make there way home. We have a bit more of a chat and then decide to head back.. A few of us splinter off for an off road journey back to the campsite.. It’s a great route fast and loose making us all smile.
Time flies by, the crown hotel is heaving so we head across the road to another restaurant for some food and a few drinks. By this point it feels like I’ve known these men for years. I finish my drink and head back.. After a restless night and busy day I was shattered. Sunday morning appears a few weary faces surface.
Riding again… Yea ok. We head for the forest centre for a full Welsh breakfast.. That and a big mug of tea I was ready to ride, we decide on the black loop again.. Having a bit more of an idea of what’s instore I’m really looking forward to it. We ride the loop whooping and enjoying every bit.. Even the climbs where we spur each other on.. This is what riding in a group is about.. Giggling and laughing on the descents and cheering each other on the climbs.
Riding with everyone for that weekend was a great honour. Lots of riders I look up to in terms of fitness and bike handling skills all happy to ride with me and all sharing a brew and a chat in between.
I was incredibly organised before I left home I packed my go pro, camera, mounts… Did I use them… No! I was too busy revelling in the atmosphere created by the meetup and enjoying the company of some great people that I now have the pleasure of calling friends. I’m not sure if they think the same but that’s my thoughts.
Professional pictures of the event are here Chris Davies Mtbmeetup photos
The video produced from the meetup YouTube meetup video
And lastly Chris from AllianceMTB montage which sums it all up nicely
Vimeo photo montage