I was quite excited about going to Llandegla. "It’s the most fun trail centre in the UK”, “it’s wicked you’ll love it” is what the guys had said. So the excitement was understandable, plus given that fact that for one reason or another i’d missed out on the chance to go and ride the trails when others had gone over previously.
The day started well, weather was good. Warm (ish) and dry (ish) and we’d (myself and Lee Gratton) got the new team kit to wear out for the first time. “Factory” I think was how Lee described it when we both set off decked out in matching kit and on matching bikes. I’ve got to say it felt good and we got plenty of attention riding out of the car park and up onto the trails.
First of all we had a brief play on the jump / pump track / Northshore section just out of the car park. Fun little section but I wouldn’t say I was exactly suited to that type of thing, something that was proven later on that day.
I made a few minor adjustments to the bike before we set off up the first climb. If you’ve not been to Llandegla before then you head out of the car park and hit a steady climb taking you to the top of the course before riding the singletrack sections. Makes sense I suppose that you do the climbing to start with then you get to enjoy the linking sections of downhill. Lee hadn’t been on the bike all week and I was starting to get some good feeling back in the legs so I pushed on a bit up the climb. Legs felt good and we soon past a large amount of riders heading up the course. There looked to be a real mix of riders, young and old, weekend warrior types mainly on big all mountain machines so I suppose we stood out thrashing up the climb in the new kit on our short travel bikes.
We hit the top and made use of a quick photo opportunity before (what we thought) we got dirty and the bikes / kit didn’t look so good. The first downhill section was similar to the kind of thing you find on Upper or Lower Clif Cannock Chase. Free flowing hard packed but bumpy where the surface had been cut up over time with unnecessary braking into corners etc. Good fun and straight away I could see why people liked this place.
Couple more descents and there was defiantly a theme to the sections. More and more rollers, no doubt the builders loved them. No problems, I was enjoying it and Lee was in his element taking air of the tops and crossing it up whenever possible. I tend to have a more cautious approach, put simply if i’m not sure whats coming up then keep the wheels firmly on the ground.
The problem with this is that it’s boring and it shows, especially when you’ve got some dude bouncing all over the place in front jumping off every little lip. So after a couple of sections I was starting to chill and let it go. Have a bit more fun! I think it was the forth section in when I thought, yeah this is cool. Over a few rollers round a big sweeping berm then a few more rollers... BANG!
Strange isn’t how everything goes so slow when your in trouble yet you’ve got not time to do anything about it. Rewind it back a bit and up to then all the rollers had been small so I didn’t need to take any air of the top, just roll out of them. This one dropped away a fair bit and as i’d tried to roll the front wheel out the back back flipped up and left me going only one way...over the bars!
I remember the feeling of being on the front wheel knowing I was going down and I did. I bounced up quite quickly followed by crashing back down again. That initial adrenaline had masked the feelings and for a moment and made me feel like I was fine. Then for some reason I couldn’t stand straight and everything was hazy. And why is bike 5 meters down the track.
Thankfully Lee had stopped and come back to get the bike and me out the way of any other riders coming down. I checked myself over and everything was in one piece, bit of blood but I was ok apart from my back. What had happened was i’d hit the ground head first which had snapped me over landing on my back.
We stood there for a few minutes and watched as all those weekend warriors we’d past earlier came down the trail and cleared the section which had just put me on the deck....I wasn’t looking or feeling quite so factory now!
I kind of limped down to the road whilst Lee went and fetched the Van. I couldn’t sit up straight so Lee cleared the back of the Van so I could stretch out. A pain killer and I drifted off to sleep. When I woke everything seemed so much clearer, it was then I realized the hazy feeling I had was a mild concussion. I checked my Kask Vertigo helmet and whilst the top was just dented the inner case was smashed...figure if i hadn’t had a helmet on then it would of been my head that was smashed to bits! Not a great thought!
On top of that the new kit was ripped, bike damaged (hopefully no too damaged) and we got to do a total of 6mile around Llandegla plus i’ve damaged my back that much that i’ve hardly been able to move since.
So that was that! Not the most successful trip out and I still can’t say i’ve ridden Llandegla and say what it’s really like. I will be going back, can’t let it beat me. I just need to get the back sorted along with the bike, helmet and kit.... oh and anybody got any body-armer
Finally I need to say a big thank you to Lee for getting me home... cheers mate!