Archive for October, 2011

Duffbag Kit bags – ideal for wet or dirty kit, mountain biking, surfing, winter sports
26/10/2011

Duffbags – A really tough, useful bag with a water resistant liner for stashing wet muddy kit in.

The duffbag idea was born in a tent at the foot of a Welsh mountain in October 2009 – We were on a mountain bike trip to the Afan trail centre and were camping in late October. Needless to say it was wet and muddy, after three days of riding and juggling mucky kit in a small tent it was time to pack up and head for home. We looked like refugees from tent city with our collection of bin bags and festering carriers and throwing everything in the back of the car left everything wet, muddy and smelling of wet dog.

On returning home I figured out there had to be a better way of transporting wet, muddy kit and set about designing the duffbag kit bag, our first product. After many prototypes we found the right material that had a special coated PVC lining that gave us the strength and the water resistance that we wanted. We had a small batch made and started testing them…

New bags in black

We filled them up with water (they eventually leak at the seams but will take 50 litres of water)

We filled them up with really muddy, gopping clothes and then slung them on some cream leather BMW seats (and didn’t get told off)

We supplied Team Columbia mountain Bike Race team with 9 of them and asked them to try and break them (they couldn’t)

We added a changing mat and shoe pocket

We sold a few to our friends at mates rates and then it grew from there. Duffbag is now sold all over the country and is used by mountain bikers, surfers, kayakers, snowboarders, in fact any kind of sport that involves getting wet and or muddy and requires gear to be transported.

£12.95

Built in changing mat, great for getting changed in draughty car parks

Water resistant liner keeps mud and moisture inside the bag

Here is another video we made that shows the bag in use, no mud here as it was summer time but it shows it in use as intended

£12.95

What about cleaning?

Duffbags naturally get pretty dirty inside if they are used as intended – luckily they are easy to clean. We designed them so they are easy to turn inside out for cleaning, simply hose off any muck and leave to dry- they dry really quickly as the PVC liner beads and sheds moisture faster than a wet Labrador. See the video below to see how easy it is.

What else can you use it for?

We like to spend time at the beach and do a bit of body boarding with the kids, duffbag is great for all your beach gear and wetsuits, best of all it saves filling your car boot up with sand and soggy gear, see the video below for more details.

Then of course there are winter sports, some friends of ours took their bags over to the Alps on a skiing and snowboarding trip, they were great for stashing boots and wet gear and really helped keep their chalet clean.

Duffbag high up in the Alps

£12.95


Thanks for reading and enjoy your duffbags

Penmachno trail Betws y Coed
06/10/2011

After two days back to back riding at Coed-y-Brenin we decided to head over to Betws-y-Coed for a morning’s riding, we had heard about the Penmachno trail and wanted to check it out.

The Penmachno is graded red, 22km distance with 600m of climbing, compared to the Beast of Brenin we had ridden the day before it sounded just the ticket.

Panmachno is a bit off the beaten track, we punched Betws-y-Coed into the satnav and off we went, as we approached a tiny Welsh village one of the eagle eyed amongst us spotted a car with bikes on the roof going the other way. A quick 360 found us in the trail centre car park, miles away from Betws-y-Coed but very much in the right place.

Now when I say trail centre, do not expect the usual wooden lodge, café, showers etc. In fact do not expect anything as that is what you will get, there is a sign, an honesty box and a car park – that is it.

We had no maps of the trail with us, but again one of the quick thinking bunch that we were with whipped out his Blackberry Hutchison Iphone 3g slab of silicon loveliness and  took a hi-res picture of the sign map and we just used that, worked perfectly.

Out of the car park and upwards and upwards and once more up, pretty much fireroad all the way but we were all feeling the 3,500  metres of climbing we still had in our legs from the previous two days, still we were riding gods weren’t we??

Not!

The first descent showed how tired we really were, sketchy lines were the order of the day with desperate attempts to scrub off speed, poor landings and the use of trail side boulders to ping ourselves back on course. The trail itself is a cracking little trail, much narrower than we are used to with very small margins for error, with a really natural, flowey feel.

Not sure this is Penmachno, but is up a mountain in Wales on the same trip and it pretty much all looks like this - fantastic

With a bit of singletrack under our belt and backing off a little speed due to the fatigue and dodgy lines we got on with the ride. The trail climbs mostly on fireroad and certainly kicks up in places right up to a very exposed ridge that takes you across the exposed mountain face on what I guess is an old sheep track. I don’t know if the day we road it was typical, but we had a howling wind right in our faces which meant even pedaling downhill was hard work. The views were spectacular though, can’t imagine what it would be like in January though, but then we are soft Southern xc jeyboys so what do we know eh?

With “windy ridge” out the way the descent began with some really fast rolling singletrack taking us pretty much all the way down, by now our “trail eyes” had woken up and our reaction times improved meaning we quickly gathered that grin inducing speed that we all love.

Honesty box, make sure you use it or trail pixies will find you and bring bad Karma

All too soon we were back down in the car park, which was now full, showing just how popular this peachy little trail is. We dropped a few coins each in the honesty box, which contributes to the upkeep and improvement of the trails, piled back into the truck and headed back off down to that London.

As Arnie says “we’ll be back”.

Coed-y-Brenin Mountain Bike Trail
05/10/2011

Just back from recent trip to Coed-y-Brenin in North Wales, thought we would share with you our thoughts on this purpose built trail centre in this beautiful part of the Welsh countryside.

First off this is not my first trip to Coed-y-Brenin – four years ago I foolishly entered an XC race there and got my ass well and truly walloped, trashing my bike on lap two and a forced retirement. I vowed I would be back as there seemed to be some great riding, I did not think it would take me four years to get round to it!

Our group of four left South East England at 6am on a September morning, arriving at CyB keen and eager at around 1pm.

We stayed at a beautiful campsite around 1.5miles from the trail centre, by coincidence it was the same campsite we stayed at on our previous visit 4 years earlier. The campsite is called Cae Gwyn Farm and is run very ably by Sue and Dave who made us very welcome, even running us to and from the local hostelry each evening (thanks Sue) . We stayed in their camping barn, which sleeps 10, in errrrrr, kind of reasonable comfort (the camping beds are a little snug if you are 6′ or over), we were sharing with another group of lads from Manchester, which made things cosy but ran along OK, but no complaints at£13pp per night!

Our campsite, rated by the Guardian as one of the most picturesque campsites in the UK - I have to agree

With our gear stashed we rode down the busy A470 to the trail centre (downhill there, uphill back) a quick chat with some locals who advised us to ride Cyflym Coch (red grade,10.8km and 200m climbing) as a warm up and then onto Tarw (black grade, 20.2km, 460m climbing) straight after. We planned to ride the legendary Beast the next day so it all sounded about right.

After a bit of confusion about the markers for the trail, the local guy said look for the “squirrel” markers which in fact turned out to be a fox, although you could see the similarity, the trail was then known as the “squirely fox” trail.

So what of the riding? great little trail, rocky, not too technical with a nice flowy feel to it, we were having a lot of fun and started to ease into the weekend, next up the Tarw trail…

Through the horns for the Tarw trail

The Tarw was graded black and classified as severe, so we set off at a steady pace. To be honest the trail was a bit of a disappointment, a lot of climbing for not too much payback in the fun department. Yes it was rocky and technical, but certainly not flowy and fun, we finished the day tired but Tarw left us pretty flat, we were riding ” The Beast” the next day, if it was anything like Tarw we were less than inspired…

Saturday morning dawned warm and clear, after a breakfast of porridge and energy bars we set off once more to the trail centre and set out to tackle “The Beast”. The Beast of Brenin, to give it its full name is one of those trails that most people have heard of. We had heard a lot about it but after riding Tarw the previous days we feared it could be a disappointment. Classified as severe black, 38.2km and 1015m of climbing we certainly approached it with respect. Our first start was aborted as a group of twenty riders went up the trail slightly ahead of us, they were of very mixed ability and were off and pushing in the first 200m and to put it mildly were not too interested in getting out the way. In the interest of trail Karma and etiquette we decided to roll back to the trail centre and have a cup of tea and give them a half hour start.

You need at least one metre travel for this trail - we suspect those forks don't work...

Our second attempt saw us steadily climbing on the rocky ascent away from the trail centre and got into the rhythm of the ride. If you have ridden other trail centres, Afan in particular the general rule is spend the first half of the ride climbing, the second half descending. Coed-y-Brenin seems to be laid out a bit differently you kind of traverse the mountains, climbing and descending as you go, yes there is a fine descent at the end but the ride undulates for equal measures of pleasure and pain as you go round.

Well, the riding? From my point of view it was a massive wow! One of the best days riding I had experienced in years, there are some tricky technical bits which will test your skills, table tops and berms for styling it up and some truly sweet rocky descents that just leave you wanting more. Some of it was a bit of a blur but the sweet parts I remembered were; Pink Heifer and Able and the thrilling final combination of Gomez, Morticia, Pugsley, Lurch and Uncle Fester that had us shooting down rocky sections grinning like loons. There was a diversion in place for maintenance which caused us a bit of bother as the signposting was a bit iffy, but we sorted out a long road climb to roll into “beginning of the end” which was a fitting end to a great trail, rooty AND rocky, although one of our group managed to get lost and miss this bit out (an excuse to go back if ever there was one).

The happy crew after yet another lung bursting climb

We ended the day with a cappuccino, latte, frappé kind of frothy thing at the excellent trail centre, still buzzing from the great day’s riding and already planning our return! Surely that must be a good sign?

Will we come back? Hell yes!