Squadron Leader Mr K did a sterling job of guiding nine fellow retrobikers around Clocaenog Forest and over to Llyn Brenig reservoir.
After using his full allocation of right turns during the morning, a succession of corresponding left turns in the afternoon and some soggy map reading eventually returned us to our start point.
A classic old school route with a good bunch of old school people.
The apprehensive retro-riders line up outside a primary school for the group shot.
L to R: Sinnett117, woody, m-trax, volvo1980, fritz, MrK, HarryCrumb, Easy_Rider, crud. (drystonepaul behind camera)
Riding commenced up a nice steep and dirty, muddy lane. I immediately began to regret my choice to ride singlespeed, but after a point in the right direction from a friendly farmer we eventually reached the edge of the forest.
Fritz and Volvo 1980. A tale of two Alex's.
Clocaenog Forest is filled with fire roads all of which have identical junctions and magnetic compass confusing trees. So we continued on an easterly bearing through scenery like the repetitive background in an episode of Scooby Doo.
Mr Kawawherethehellarewe: Leading from the back.
Mr K had shunned the retrobike convention of doing a route recce prior to inviting other riders along. He instead preferred to rely on his finely honed map reading skills, almost supernatural sense of direction, cat like reflexes and the 50:50 approach to left or right turns. This 'live recce' approach kept us all very excited almost as though participating in a treasure hunt.
Nobody heard any banjo's, saw any squirrel rehabilitation towers, or spoke of being eaten by wolves at any point during the ride.
The rare sight of a waymarker post immediately confirmed our suspicions.... Hopelessly lost.
Despite the weather forecast predicting awful weather for several days leading up to the ride, we were thankfully blessed with sunshine and blue skys. Perfect for soaking up some fantastic views across to the Clywdian hills in the distance.
The bright sunshine added even more colour saturation to Mark 'Daffyd' Sinnett's fluorescent lycra.
A titanium test ride vs a £16 eBay special.
Crumbs that's a lovely looking AMP.
Once again a fine selection of old metal was on show including, Sinnett117's Alpinestars Ti-Mega, HarryCrumbs blinged out AMP, Mr K's Dave Yates, Woody's Stumpjumper M2, Fritz's Kona, Volvo's P7, Crud's Saracen, ER's Dawes and m-trax on her M-Trax.
Bike of the ride should surely have gone to my Saracen Sahara, with it's rattly bottom bracket, dodgy free-hub, possibly cracked frame, loosening headset and comic book graphics. Still, I did 'jet' wash it by completely submerging it in a river at the end of the ride only to pour half a litre of water out of the frame afterwards. I digress...
Easy_Rider enthusiastically accepts Mr K's offer of map reading lessons
A portrait of a man on the edge of control
Mr K spurred us all along to reach the visitor centre on the far side of the mighty Llyn Brenig reservoir. Many hot baguettes and all day breakfasts were consumed as we casually muddied up the furniture.
The weather closed in as we left the cafe
After a thorough re-fuelling we ventured back outside to be met with a heavy and sustained hail shower. Layering up we tackled the exposed crossing of the dam. Cold wasn't the word for it and we all welcomed reaching the shelter of the forest on the far side. My shoes were now full of icy water which put the fun in fundamentally unpleasant.
After increasingly lengthy patches of snow on the hill top trails we reached the summit wind turbines and the metalled road over the top.
Riders re-assemble near to the top of the wind turbines
The tarmac was soon blocked by about 2 foot of snow. This is where shorts and ankle socks really come into their own, when it comes to experiencing new levels of cold and discomfort. We carried, waded and swam through a few hundred metres of the icy white stuff before the tarmac re-commenced. Chilled by the snow a lengthy descent followed which guaranteed that any remaining sensation in toes and fingers was lost.
Stuck on a small black island
As we descended the tricky slippery and very wet forest logging trails we gradually warmed up and hit the final mud chute through a farm yard and onto the lane back to our start point.
Look at all those happy muddy faces
A quick change of clothes and we dropped into the pub to literally scrape together some cash for a pint and some banter.
In an increasingly random twist on the Bike of the Ride award saw the pub landlord awarding Woody with the prestigious sticker without even seeing anybody's bikes.
All in all a great day out with full marks awarded for company, entertainment and weather induced near misery. Love it.
"Double Butted Cromoly Tubing!!!
(Edited several times due to poor spleling)