Here at Cognation we know that we now have some of the best trails and best scenery in the world. However, it brings a massive smile to our face when we hear it from people who have ridden elsewhere. Here’s another fantastic guest blog post this time from blogger Rachel In Wales.
“As I tumbled down a fire road in California I swore I would never try mountain biking again. Two years on I’m begging for lifts to Afan Argoed every weekend. How did this happen?
Growing up in Sunny California I spent loads of time on a bicycle: cycling to school, cycling to the mall, cycling home. When I was sixteen I got my drivers license, parked my bike, and assumed I would never pedal another day in my life. But when I moved to Wales I met some mountain bikers, and as I watched them come home – muddy and energized with stories of “railing it” and “getting air” and “ripping the S* out of it” I kind of wanted a go. So In 2010, while back in California, I rented a very nice and very expensive full sus and tried the trails.
It did not go well.
But when I got back to Wales I wanted more. And when I saw a little second hand Cube hard tail for sale I knew it was fate. I spent some time failing at blue runs before I was taken to Cwmcarn, where I plunged down and up and wondered what sort of insanity I was suffering from to be trying this sport. But when I reached the final descent, I realized what I was doing. I was mountain biking.
Since then I’ve spent many weekends at some of the most amazing trails in Wales. I’m not great, I’m not massively skilled or massively quick, but I love it. The first time I finished Y Wal (my favorite track in Wales) I was so proud. And exhilarated. The feeling of speed and agility as I raced down Zig Zags and Graveyard was unlike any other sport I’ve done. I’m always learning new skills when I go out, and always improving.
Most importantly, all my early fears have amounted to nothing. I was worried I wouldn’t have the right gear – but all I really needed was a bike, a helmet, some gloves, some chocolate (some would say this is optional!) and some water. Easy! I was worried that I would hold other bikers up by being slow, and especially for being a slow girl. But this was an unfounded worry as well – there are loads of slow people, and everyone is friendly. Everyone was a beginner once! Because there are so many trails – and at so many levels – I hardly ever find someone screeching towards me. When I do find someone wanting to pass they’re always patient until I find a good place to pull off.
When we’re up on top of Afan Argoed, looking out across the beautiful Welsh valleys, it doesn’t matter if you’re a fast biker or slow, on red or on black, ripping it or enjoying the view. Mountain biking is great because it’s people doing what they love, in a beautiful part of the world. As a California girl in South Wales, I’m thankful every weekend for a chance to get on the bike, see a bit more of South Wales, and someday to really crush it!”
So there you have it! How do you think the trails here compare to others in the rest of the world? Let us know your stories and experiences.
You can also follow Rachel on Twitter: @RachelinWales