Rheola in the snow
Blimey, that was cold.
Saturday 26th November 2005: Myself, Anton, Flash, G-Dog, Rob and Stubacca drove up to Rheola, in the Vale of Neath, South Wales, for a bit of Dragon Downhill uplift day action.
After about ten minutes stood on the back of a truck, chugging it’s way up a snow-covered fire road, you get to ride down the track – and it’s epic. The first third is awesome – the closest thing I’ve found to the alpine courses. Fast, wet, rocky and very very good fun. We finished that section by blatting out onto snow-covered fire road, before diving into a completely bonkers chute-of-doom. From there on down it was tight, deeply rutted singletrack to the bottom – with the occasional “North Shore” interruption.
It started off being quite rideable, but by the time we got a couple of runs in the track was getting really proper mental. Bikes and riders were completely unrecognisable by the bottom – coated from helmet to tyres in a thick layer of the local mud. I’m told that I looked like the “Wild man of Borneo” by the end of the day. That didn’t stop it being bloody great fun though.
I had a series of absolutely comical crashes – none of which hurt (at the time), which was nice. There was the headfirst dive down the chute, the getting high-sided by the bike wedging itself in a rut, falling off and sliding backwards into a ditch (in front of the photographer girlie), not to mention the one where I rode off, failed to grab the handlebars properly and ran straight into a tree. Wonderful.
I also ended up on a pretty exclusive uplift truck at one point. This lot will mean nothing to those of you who don’t follow the sport, but I was stood alongside Brendan Fairclough (they Royal Racing rider who was second in the World Champs), Rowan Sorrell (of Mojo fame), Steve Jones (Dirt Magazine) and a load of others who I recognised but couldn’t name. Oh and me, who in comparison can’t ride for toffee. This lot could probably ride a shopping trolley down that track faster than I could on my bike. Proper bonkers quick.
Big thanks to Anton for the lift up there, Alex Burwood (I think?) for letting me have his place on the uplift, G-Dog for taking my bike up there and back, Jason Carpenter and the Dragon Downhill crew for organising it and Maccy-D’s for feeding me at the end of it all. I might have left your bathroom a teensy little bit muddy – sorry about that.