With Dan away snowboarding in the Alps this week without me, the only way to console myself on my couple of days off was to head back to the homeland to shred my favourite trails in the Tweed Valley, and see the family, of course.
Although they’d had lots of snow recently, I knew it had thawed a bit over the past couple of days, so was unlikely to be a perfect snow day like I’d had there this time last year, or last week at Llandegla. It was also forecast to be pretty misty, but I didn’t care, I couldn’t wait to get back to my old stomping ground.
When I arrived at the main car park, there wasn’t much sign of snow, but as I started the climb, the coverage increased steadily. By the time I got to the Buzzard’s Nest car park, I was already starting to regret not having changed my skinny Ground Control rear tyre for something fatter with better grip. I might have got away with it at Llandegla the other day when the snow was dry and grippy, but it was clear that today was going to be a different story. The snow was wet and sugary, and as there was still loads of it, it was really difficult to get any traction. My back wheel was spinning out so much that I had to get off and push several times, and I hadn’t even made it to the top of the fire road.
Determined to ride my favourite section of trail, I decided to continue up to Spookywood, knowing perfectly well that it was going to be even more difficult to ride. Despite having to push up the steep sections – which in itself was no mean feat, and had me wishing that the Stealth soles of my Freeriders gripped snow as well as they did pedals – I was able to ride a fair bit of it. Thick mist made it very atmospheric, and with no one else around, it did actually feel pretty spooky. It was completely still and silent except for the sound of thawing snow dripping from the trees and the occasional, slightly unnerving, crash of large clumps sliding off.
As suspected, the descent was pretty sketchy, and by the second drop, I was already off the trail, and the bike, into the deep snow. Deciding it was probably best to go round any avoidable drops, I proceeded with a bit more caution, but my back wheel was all over the place, and before long a big snow-filled berm chewed me up and spat me over the bars, face first into the deep snow.
It got easier in the trees where the snow had thawed at bit, but there were still quite a few patches that were a lot more slippy than they looked. It got progressively easier the further down I got, and I was able to ride Super G and Hit Squad Hill a bit less tentatively. Frustratingly though, when I got to the bottom of Hit Squad Hill I discovered that the rest of the red route was closed and there was a diversion in place. Probably should’ve checked for closures before I set off, I guess! The diversion consisted of a disappointingly straightforward, and super muddy trail back down, which wasn’t really the end to the ride I’d hoped for. The deep mud was a piece of cake compared to the wet snow though!
It might not have been one of my better rides at Glentress, but it was great to be back there nonetheless, and it was certainly memorable. I’d probably rather have been snowboarding in the Alps though!