News and Blog

Fish out of water part 2 – The guide’s perspective!

Posted: 12 April 2013

A few weeks ago we sent a surfer mountain biking with our guest blogger Paul and he loved it. Loads of us want to shout and scream about the awesome MTB trails we have here in South Wales but few of us take the time to take a novice riding to ‘share the love’! Here’s Paul’s take on the day:

“I’ve got to know Rob pretty well over the last few months, It seems there are certain little things that are universal to people who love their hobbies, OK, maybe obsessions, especially the ones that involve a healthy dose of physical activity and a bit of the old ‘Great Outdoors’ a shared language certainly – I once e-mailed Rob about something, and quickly had to drop him a line to apologise for adding word ‘stoked’ – but it was OK, no apology was needed.

Because of this I was always forgetting that Rob’s a surfer, we’d been playing duelling diaries for a while trying to find a day we could meet up for a ride so it came as a tiny shock that after we finally found a day and did the sports version of the “I’ll be under the clock at 12 wearing a pink carnation” that Rob was actually a Surfer who drove a car filled with sand, and not a Mountain Biker who drove a Van full of mud – my mind had once again filled in the blanks in my memory with plausible, yet completely incorrect facts to trip me up – but this was great news, introducing new people to Mountain Biking is something I’ve always enjoyed doing.

Like most people I think Rob was a little apprehensive at first, perhaps Afan Bike Park in the middle of thick fog isn’t the most welcoming places to start, the mist seemed to be conspiring to only allow the most extreme looking sections of trail to shine through, and Rob was being very gentlemanly and pre-apologising for ‘slowing us up’ not that he needed to.

Asking Rob to make the short trip back to his Car to stow the 3kgs of pannier – but not the Bell off his Bike (I’m still a little embarrassed about me accidentally mocking him) gave Rich and I a couple of minutes to come up with some hints and tips. This become a couple of minutes of us laughing at each other about how scared we were the first time we came to Afan and about 10 seconds to come up with “brake in a straight line if you can” and “look where you want to go, not at the big tree you’re about to crash into” confident we’d concentrated a decade of riding experience into 20 seconds of vaguely contradictory hints we set off to the head of the new section of Y Wal next to the bike park.

The video doesn’t really do the speed justice – does it ever? We started at a good steady pace and Rob followed his own advice about keeping it controlled, nbso online casino reviews but it didn’t take long and a quarter of the way down the brakes  were getting a little less of the action and the cranks and tyres a little more, by half-way point we were at a pretty decent pace and with the light of the end just coming into sight Rob caught me a little by surprise and grabbed a nice handful of air, this was roughly about the time pace and enthusiasm started outgunning his brakes a bit and we didn’t quite round the last berm – no matter though – the smile said in all – Rob was ‘stoked’!

We rattled down the final few sections back to Afan Centre, Robs pace and confidence growing at every turn.

I’ve always loved introducing Mountain Biking to new people, and people who’ve got some experience of other action sports always do well (sometimes a little better than your ego might like ha ha) and I think every rider should, not just for ‘the good of the sport’ but for far more selfish reasons – the happy little gang I ride with is rag-tag group of riders from different backgrounds, we’ve got a Motorbike racer, Trials Rider, Skater, Road Rider, Runner, BMXer, Car Racer and a few of us who’s pre-riding hobbies were limited to ‘going to the Pub’ it means I’m NEVER stuck with someone to go riding with – so if you’re forever missing days out or always riding with Mr I Pod, invite your Mate, Cousin, Partner, Colleague, Priest, Neighbour or Landlord for a ride and beg or borrow a bike for them if they haven’t got one.”

Let us know your stories and experiences of taking a newbie mountain biking in South Wales by commenting below: