ENDTRODUCING: The Drop Off café’s Ian Luff
Down a very long twisty road off the M4 corridor near Swansea, lays the village of Glyncorrwg. It’s a one way in, one way out destination, that also happens to be mountain bike heaven. This increasingly popular place for riding was once relatively unknown compared to the likes of Afan and Cwmcarn, but then up stepped a certain Ian Luff who saw an opportunity to provide one the best cafes for mountain bikers in the UK. Apart from the great food the cafe is successful due to his high amount of charisma and charm. He has time for anyone and everyone, and always seems to be on the move. A typical day consists of dashing around the wholesalers, running the cafe, a quick hour ride, spending time with his equally flamboyant girlfriend, renovations on the house, all of which is topped off with one or two bevies. Exuberance with no off switch is the best way he can be described. Each task is performed as enthusiastically as the last one, and is always carried out with a smile. Anyway, here’s his endtroducing…
Who is Ian Luff?
An overenthusiastic optimist with an entrepreneurial, treak who wants to be a good all–round mountain biker, with a passion for shiny stuff.
Where do you live?
A mixture of Glyncorrwg, Wales, and Bath, England.
What’s your job title?
Not sure really, I’m still working on it. It comes under so many categories. Dishwasher, cook, tourist information, courier, ambulance driver, or in a nutshell, general factotum.
What do you do?
Again, it comes under many guises. Mainly organising and being responsible every week for the feeding and watering of hundreds of mountain bikers…and organising the odd cheeky party.
How long have you been running the Drop Off Cafe?
Four years now.
How did it all come about?
I set up a mountain bike accommodation product in Aberystwyth back in ‘02, and through visiting Afan frequently I knew what it had, but also what it lacked. A few years later during a typical Glyncorrwg downpour my good friend Richie and I were forced to take cover in the newly completed building. The place was empty, and soon after I heard that there were no interested parties in making it otherwise, so I jumped at the chance and we set about building something that the old Coed–y–Brenin
afé (the benchmark in MTB cafes) had, but even better. Simple really. Well done Sian and Dafydd, you’re really missed up there!
What’s your favourite thing on the menu?
I’d have to go with Ali and Les’ lasagne, spicy jerk potatoes and salad. I’m sure lots would agree. The tortilla ain’t bad either though.
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
Selling vacuum cleaners…actually I didn’t get to sell any, it was a shit job, so I left.
Where’s your favourite place?
Rockley beach, Barbados.
Where’s your favourite place to ride?
Verbier and Spain at the moment, but I shouldn’t forget Afan of course, I love that Skyline descent.
When are you happiest?
On my bike and in the sun.
What makes you angry?
Rules, stupid laws, health and safety, couch potatoes, ill people (get my drift), and ‘where there’s a blame there’s a claim’ adverts.
What makes you happy?
Mountain biking, my gorgeous girlfriend, travelling, a few drinks, and my new houses.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Live life, you only get one pop at it.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever given?
Not sure if I’ve ever given any.
What are your extravagances?
Bikes and trips away.
Who do you admire?
My mother, I wouldn’t be where I am today without her.
What’s the most important thing in your life?
Obviously my health, friends and family, and hungry customers.
What would you never throw away?
My passion to ride.
What’s your greatest fear?
What was your luckiest escape?
The morning after a Mutzig fuelled night, Daz (Cwmdown) and I decided to have a quick blast of the Zig Zags fire road descent in Morzine as one of our last blasts before we headed home to Blighty. After building confidence and speed half way down it was going well…until my front wheel started to rail in a drainage rut. I knew I was in trouble, it dug in, pitched me over the bars twisting me backwards off the trail towards the canopy below. I remember passing a tree as I flew backwards, waiting to hit the next, thankfully though I missed em all and came away with just a few scrapes. I ended up on my back six feet below the trail, quite comfortably in the thick bush. I still scratch my head wondering how I missed those trees.
What’s the first thing you do in the morning?
Fart, open my eyes and then brush my teeth, sometimes all at the same time.
What’s the last thing you do at night?
Turn the light off.
What would be your dream meal?
It’s a close call, so I thought, two is better than one. The classic roast beef dinner, with fluffy roast potatoes cooked in goose fat, Yorkshire puddings, broccoli, sprouts, fried onions, leeks, and litres of Gravy. The other old favourite is chicken, mushroom and leek pie, with Jersey new potatoes and peas. Both are best finished off with steamed treacle pudding and custard.
What things do you always carry with you?
Phone and money.
Do you have any regrets?
Not playing rugby for Wales.
What’s the most important lesson that you’ve learnt?
Always keep your eye on the trail and not the scenery.
If you could have dinner with three famous people (dead or alive) who would they be?
Colin McRae (possibly the best driver I ever did see, R.I.P), Bernie Clifton, and as the third his Emu.
Who is your favourite rider?
Simple one this; Rowan Sorrell. I’m fortunate enough to ride with Rowan and see firsthand his great skill and ability, plus I can’t put a price on the amount I’ve learnt from him, or the chats over a few beers.
What’s your favourite bike product of all time?
howies merino base layers.
What’s your least favourite bike product of all time?
That goes to Whyte Bikes for their wonderful PRST1. Great riding bike (apparently), but God it was ugly.
What’s your favourite motto or saying?
What saying do you use too much?
‘Gotta be honest’. It’s the Welsh in me.
What bike are you riding at the moment?
What was the last magazine you read?
Good House Keeping.
What are you listening to at the moment?
Kings of Leon, Elbow, and Richie’s compilation album.
What one thing would you change about yourself?
I’d go a little slower through life.
What are your weaknesses?
Impatience, and bacon and egg sarnies.
What does the future hold for you?
Well, the café is doing very well, so I might look to spread it around a bit. We’re getting some good feedback and support, all I need are those elusive six numbers.
What does the future hold for mountain biking?
For Britain, massive amounts. It’s still in its infancy, so much more can be done to make the riding experiences better. Visitor centres are the popular choice with trail centres offering bad, good and great service, but what we need now though is chair lifts and diverse trail development, and we need it NOW!
How would you like to be remembered?
For making people smile…and full up!.
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