I should of probably posted about the formation of Titan MTB a while back, for some reason I haven't - time to rectify that.
In a nutshell Titan MTB (Titan MountainBike, doh) started as a Facebook group on July 19th, 2013 for myself and a few real life friends who were interested in mountain biking so we could talk bikes and hopefully arrange some riding together. From the off it was myself and my friends Mark Searle and Steve Parker. Since then it has grown, with each of us adding people we knew interested in the sport, and those added people adding others. Honestly, it's still a pretty small group - but that might not be a bad thing. Unlike some groups, we aren't one for a set area having members far and wide, this is good and bad .. it means a lot of the time group rides are small in numbers but when we do get our act together its awesome to see everyone.
Why the name Titan? well i was struggling for a name and not feeling particulary creative i just stole the name of the venture scout unit where i met Steve many years ago (Titan VSU) - people seemed to like it, so it stuck.
In the early months, rides mostly consisted of a combination of Steve and myself, Steve, my brother Paul and myself or Mark and Myself (mostly due to the area thing) but we did spice it up earlier this year with a ride consisting of Mark, Steve and Myself! Woop! at Cannock Chase. (there was also a ride there in 2013 with Mark, Alex Buckland and myself but whilst all now Titan members I think that was before Titan formed).
Fast-forward to the present, Summer 2014 is in session and Titan has been getting some traction! with quite abit of activity from our core members and a few rides to boot! not to mention our first official weekend meet.
Llandegla, North Wales
Around March or April people in Titan seemed to be getting itchy feet for a weekend away somewhere as a group, riding of course and some weekends were banded about, bank holiday weekend in may (23rd) seemed the most suitable for the highest number of people (it was also the one I could do haha, and as i ended up organising it ..)
After some contemplation and a flurry of texts with Steve, we settled on Llandegla, North Wales which has a popular trail center and some natural trails etc. After getting a rough idea on numbers i provisionally booked soem camping at Llyn Rhys Campsite.
The weekend approached fastly and with numbers confirmed (5 of us - Mark, Steve, Alex, Simon Hubbard and myself) we were all pretty excited. However, wehn the weekend did arrive we soon realised we'd picked a monsoon weekend ... awful weather, severe weather warnings .. rain for days before hand .. the lot .. not to be deterred though, we decided to do it anyway!
Bank Holiday friday - everyone set off early, it was still a nightmare ... it took everyone far longer then expected to get there, especially poor simon who didnt arrive till 11pm. Thankfully the misery of the journey was forgotton when arrived. We had a warm welcome from Llyn Rhys Campsite and were impressed with the facilities (it was bigger then expected) and the bike lock up was decent, something I had been worried about!
After pitching we walked the short walk to The Crown Hotel for food and beer, both were excellent with only myself out of the three of us who went (Simon was still travelling and Alex wasnt coming till the saturday) managing to polish off the massive portion of burger and chips, it was lush.
I picked Alex up .. the weather didn't seem bad, I was wrong. We got back to the campsite and the heavens opened, decided we best get to the trail center before people had second thoughts haha! Thankfully this was only 5mins from the campsite by car (we drove so we could keep food/change of clothes etc at the trail center)
We arrived at Llandegla Trail Center, £4 for all day parking which seems pretty standard for trail centers, it wasn't busy (probably on account of the weather) so we unloaded the bikes and were just getting ready to go to the start, when the lord of single speeds Alex .. broke the chain trying to change gear on the geared bike he was lending off Mark for the weekend :) luckily i had some KMC missing links so we fixed him up pretty quick! We rode upto the main visitor center and whilst people went for a toilet break we decided to start on the blue (especially as we weren't sure of everyones ability at that point).
Llandegla Blue - 12 km/7.5 miles
For a blue trail, this one really throws you in at the deep end - the opening climb is a beast especially when cold, wet and not warmed up! that been said i was pretty pleased that all my winter training had apparently paid off and i made it up without any great excertion - a few of the other lads were already cursing by the top! The next section was relatively flat just windy, great fun through the forest before you shoot out into an open moorland area! and again with the climbing ... and boy what a climb ... not technical but long, really long! starting to think i might have gone a bit odd in the head cos i enjoyed it, i did have to stop on top of the first crest though to take layers off! was way too warm and ain had mostly subsided. Really great climb! followed by a flatish section again in the forest and ending in a cool fast downward massive berm! we stopped here to regroup and down some arse gel .. errr i mean energy gels.
This is where it got fun, really fun! The descent starts .. you go into the forest and down a really fast section with lots of rollers, managed to get some decent air and clear a few of the doubles, then you can either go left which see's the start of the red or carry on on the blue (which we did) and yet more decent! really fast, really cool! we regrouped at the bottom all grinning like the cat who got the cream. A quick flat part them some more decent before we stopped off by the reservoir for photo time!
During these photos the heavens opened again and we got drenched, really drenched ... quickly back on the bikes and the shelter of the forest. Upon entering the forest with the now dark skies and mist everywhere, i did contemplate the wisdom of not changing my dark lenses for my clear ones in my glasses but nevermind! It wasn't far back to the start.
Bonus: if you have me on strava - here is the run!
The Cafe / Shop / Etc
After the blue we decided to stop for lunch, we all had some lunch in the car but decided to for go that and grab something warm from the cafe! The cafe/shop is amazing, probably the biggest i've seen at a trail center so far! and so were the portions of food ... I opted for a simple cheese on toast but it was possibly the biggest chunk of toast i've ever seen and was delicous! the bucket of americano went down great too. Some of the other lads devoured amazing looking burgers, i forget what else people had! everyone enjoyed it though. Nice lil shop there too with some lush frames, bikes and gear in ... including SantaCruz 5010's and Bronsons *dribble, dribble, dribble*
Having warmed up and filled up we ventured back outside for round 2 ...
The Red Trail - 18 km/11 miles
Having guaged that everyone was capable (which we assumed anyway tbh!) we decided to hit the the red route. Having warmed up in the morning everyone seemed to manage that first climb out of the carpark better! as mentioned earlier the first part of the red and blue overlap, so we rode the blue to the red splitoff! smashed my prior time on the massive climb too!
When you get onto the red, it gets red .. very quick! nice and technical .. steep, jumpy and rocky .. very rocky! with some woodwork thrown in for good measure (man i need to get more confident on the woodwork, it still freaks me out). The first part was great, windy, fast, sketchy descent out in the open! followed by a quick climb and back into the forest for some fast single track.
Pretty soon ... you hit a lil up which seems to have a nice take off ... now its probably wise not to try and manual this if you can't see the landing .. like i did haha... the down on the otherside is massive, not a drop, a steep descent ... but when your a few foot up and realise this its a bit unnerving haha! luckily landed it fine then wooooooosh fast and down, really fun single track and switchbacks for a while, seemed fast! ,maybe cos i had Simon on his bloody super fast 29er right on my wheel haha!
After that get ready for steep climbs, really steep climbs .. really really steep technical climbs. I have to admit i ended up pushing a few of them (more from messing up technique then fitness) - on the whole though pretty pleased. At the top of one stopped to fix some randoms chain, missing links to the rescue again!
By this point, possibly due to everyone been soaked a few of the lads were starting to struggle a bit on the climbs! still everyone carried on and we soon found ourselves back on the descents and back down to the start! super fun, i REALLY enjoyed the red.
Stopped for more coffee in the cafe and a free chocolate bar from the girl who's chain i fixed :)
Great day had by all! then back to the campsite for a group bonding experience in the coed showers, cough.
Bonus: if you have me on strava - here is the run!
The Pound Burger Challenge
Throught the day we had been mentioning to the lads who weren't at the pub friday night how epic the burgers were, and how we strugled despite having the smaller half pound burgers. Alex casually mentioned that he could probably do a pound one, easily. So the challenge was laid down! if he could eat it + trimmings he would win a prize of legendary status ... well a t-shirt. So we headed back to the crown, drank beers and got food ... Alex is a machine, devoured it easily winning his t-shirt before going back for dessert (prize to be collected next meetup).
Really great night in the crown was a lad doing a live music set who wasn't bad, was pretty funny and met some other bikers. Turns out some of them had even got in MBUK for the stacked it photo competition! Alex also did some dancing, must find the video and get on here.
Sunday morning we woke up to GLORIOUS sunshine, it was amazing, like AMAZING. We quickly had breakfast and packed up IN THE DRY. Collected the bikes and thanked the site warden for a great stay, very polite and kind and said she hopes she see's us again! i think she just might.
After packing up, we headed back to the trail center for another ride before we set off back! of course as the weather was almost decent it was much busier! we decided just to do the blue again .. especially as i'd somehow tweaked my ankle a bit.
I dunno if it was the previous day warming up, the better weather or the fact we knew the route but we smashed it! ended with everyone grinning once again! really great ride :) and quite different to in the rain!
Oh i forgot to mention, the views are stunning.
This lot are less stunning ...
Bonus: if you have me on strava - here is the run! there may aslo eventually be a video edit of the sunday as Mark did some filming on his gopro! just need him to do the edit ...
We managed to get back and load the cars just before the monsoon started again! timing!
Really great weekend, fun for everyone to put faces to names from the facebook group. Think we'll be having another one soon!
Viva Titan MTB!