Pack your shorts; we're heading South! It's Team Training Camp II; the Bristol edition.
After a white knuckle Steven King style drive from Northumberland (freezing fog / zero visibility) I arrived late on Friday night and installed myself in a boozer round the corner from Rob's until he turned up (it was purely to keep warm you understand). Rob resisted the cold clutches of 'The Fish' (a nickname that I personally feel is completely misleading) and it was time to hit the hay for an early start on Saturday. Tomorrow was Christmas Day. Well sort of; it was '09 New Ironhorse Team Bike Day which is much the same thing. The team was also doing a photo shoot... and it was going to be cold.
The whole team hooked up and we headed over to Ashton Court to meet IH Martin and our New Friends. My personal New Friend is called Bootleg and out of the box the bike looked spot on for me. The elegant single pivot design combined with some well thought out colour coordination make the Bootleg one slick looking machine. (Watch this space for pics of the bike after I have complimented it with some personal spec choices).
We set off into the woods and found some choice locations for some photos. After several 'One more times' we got the shots we were after. Can't wait to see the results. But I didn't say it was cold, did I? My kidneys were actually vibrating by the time we got back to Ashton Court cafe for greasy burgers and lashings of tea. Oh well; I don't think anyone noticed and my 'Hard Northerner' persona survived another day. Back to Rob and Zoe's for a 'Team Talk' and some top scran courtesy of Zoe. Clive and I then hit boozer and I once more demonstrated that a Geordie can actually visit a Public House and leave without getting mortal (just).
Early start; I've never been to Afan before and I was really looking forward to it. But boy it was cold! I had to change my stem before I set off and I felt like that bloke in Touching the Void; you know when he's hanging trapped on the rope and he has to try and use the little loops of cord to climb back up the rope but his hands won't work? It was kind of like a bike mechanic's version of that... Anyways, it was quite a big group that set off up the climb. Well, I say set off; what I really mean is tore off up the hill like monkeys after coconuts. Leading the charge was Martin, proving yet again that downhillers also go up! We stopped at the top for a breather. It was then that I realised Martin is actually an alien from planet Zarg... he was wearing shorts and a short sleeved top! Oh my God! It was about minus five!!! (I was wrapped up in the finest thermal swag along with Diver Style neoprene overshoes....) My kidneys were again on the critical list and it took my best efforts to not to whinge like a small child. Some of the girls that were with us also had short sleeves on.... (I must tell them about the Bigg Market...). It was then that I realised; I am not a true Notherner. My genetic make-up is all wrong.
When we got moving again, (my enthusiasm was probably a little obvious) we did some great traversing and descending. It was only a small portion of Afan but enough to make me want to return one day. The Bootleg was spot on for this type of trail; fast and flowing with the odd lip to pop off.
So after a Gullivers Travels size portion of Welsh Rarebit I headed off in The Volvo of Truth back to sunny Northumberland. Never again will I make jokes about Soft Southerners!