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Mart's Ramblings March 2024

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Mart's Ramblings March 2024

Posted on 01 Mar 2024

A new column in our newsletter from one of our founders Mart Astley.  What has he been up to this month, what’s going on at the bike park and what’s on his mind?

I love March, it has to be one of my favourite months.  It’s a month that comes laden with hope and promise, the back of the winter has been broken, trees are in blossom, the days are getting longer and we begin to dream of rides that don’t require jet washing yourself before you can even consider using the washing machine.

Winters can feel pretty long in Wales, they tend to start in September and end anywhere between March and August depending on the year.. So it’s something we have to get used to and after 10 operational winters at the bike park we are now pretty well acclimatised and have learnt a few tricks to make it more enjoyable and ways to maximise the fun for visiting riders.  Every winter throws it’s own curve balls though and this year it has so far been the wind that has played havoc with us.

By the middle of January we had endured 10 named storms at the bike park, that’s as many as I can remember in an entire season let alone by mid January.  The Autumn was particularly harsh with several weeks of back to back storms, some of which exceeded our maximum operational limit and forced a closure of the bike park.  We hate the impact this has on visiting riders and always try to make that call as early as we can but forecasts change wildly making calls often very difficult to make.

We’ve developed a very extensive extreme weather procedure here at BPW and over the winter it gets used a LOT!  It covers all eventualities from snow and ice to, high winds, lightening and even extreme rainfall (which has actually forced us to close the park once or twice!).  This policy and the linked procedures exist for one reason only and that’s to keep riders safe. We know it can be a real buzz kill to be the fun police and close for a day but we never do this unless we feel it’s absolutely necessary, it upsets our customers and is financial suicide so it is only done when it’s a necessary evil.  You may notice on blustery days that our drivers continually monitor wind speeds at the summit for us to make sure we are within limits on blowy days, what you won’t have seen is what often takes place before you’ve hit the trails in the morning.

After an event that triggers a “trail sweep”, such as high winds during the night, every inch of trail is ridden or walked by our crew before the first uplift bus leaves for the day.  That’s almost 50km of trail that has to be swepped to check for fallen trees or debris, giant puddles caused by blocked drainage pipes (we have had some whoppers over the years!!) or other hazards.  These days it’s a slick process that starts early and can be completed in around 90 minutes, we have ways of making this as seamless as possible for the visiting rider who will hopefully not even know this has all happened.  Hats of to the team who are out there in any weather getting this job done.

With a move to spring hopefully less trail sweeps will be needed and the ground will begin to dry.  We are blessed here at the park in that our rock gets GRIPPIER when it gets wet so our trails are awesome to ride in the winter.  Still, wet feet can get tiring and we all love riding in a T-Shirt!  With the promise of drying ground we are of course looking forward to popping the cork on the new, extended A470 line.  The trail has been finished for several weeks now and it looks immense.  It’s 30% longer than the original line and now starts at the summit of the hill with an all-new wooden drop qualifying feature.  The top section is mega, loads of flow and a real variety of features, rollers, some doubles, an amazing line of tables and new for A470 line, jumps in the forest.  It’s sure to be very popular, we are sorry it has taken so long to open but you can’t force these things sadly, if you open the trail before it’s ready it will be covered in ruts after just a few riders and we have to close it again.  Our hope is that once we open this trail we don’t have to close it again for a long time.  It will be worth the wait we promise. 

I think that’s enough for this month, congrats on surviving winter and here’s to a great Spring on the trails and laps down the all new A470 line!

Martin Astley

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