Introduction - how this blog works

The idea of this blog is to share some of my favourite bits of mountain biking with the world. Principally so that you too can enjoy the bits I've enjoyed. And avoid the bits I've hated. So many people have given us advice on biking since we started - what bikes to buy, where to ride, how to ride. So this is my chance to feed a bit back to that body of knowledge.

I'd really welcome your comments - what have I raved about that you thought was awful? What gems did I miss when I visited your local riding spot? Is a bit that I said was awful actually sweet singletrack in the summer or when you're riding well? Comments will help this resource be improved for all readers, and also give me some hints as to where to ride next!

I've written a load about what we've ridden over the last year, and grouped it geographically. My plan is to add to it in the future, hopefully using the tags to keep each region together, though I haven't quite worked out how it will work yet. I may just need to start all over again in a year to keep things organised more sensibly - I'm not really sure a blog is the most sensible format - but it seems the best for me as I'm not terribly motivated to learn any more code than the day job necessitates.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Wales weekends

Over two days we rode all the sections at Coed y Brenin on the East side of the road (the Tarw trail is still a huge disappointment, according to riders we chatted to). There are loads of different ways to link together all the sections, so I'm going to try and classify them all to help plan future routes. The Beast rides almost all the sections, except Dream Time.

Rock slabs - no net height gain/loss but still quite tricky: Badger, Cain (first part)
Steep, technical descent: Cain (second part), Abel, Lurch, Uncle Fester, Beginning of the End
Flowy, undulating - not net height gain): Pink Heifer (start), Dream Time
Tricky climbing: Pinderosa
Natural trail climbing: Brutus, far NE corner (though this is apparently very scenic....)
Less remarkable descents: Slated, Morticia, Pugsley, Pink Heifer, Big Dug, Beefy, Hermon, Gomez, Glide
Berms: Bottom of Morticia, bottom of Hermon, bottom of Dream Time, some more I can't remember
Tight corners: Seven Sisters

There are cafes (both recommended) before Pink Heifer and after Hermon.

We found a pleasant natural ride starting up the road from Bontddu (657202). Pleasant, flattish singletrack leads to (637201). From here push over the shoulder of Craig y Grut (627 201). the first part of the descent from hre is steep and tehcnical, but then it just becomes fast and grassy down to Pont Fadog (608215). The first part of the descent from here into Tal y Bont is technicla and rooty, but sadly it becomes dull after that. To return to the start, there is a steady doubletrack climb form Cors Y Gedol (602231) followed by a descent to Pont Scethin (634235). the next bit is all rock slabs, which could be fun to ride if your legs hold out, followed by a long push bakc over Criag y Grut. The descent form the top (637 224) back to the start starts off as a long traverse, before becoming fast and grassy and finally haveign soem technicla bits about 200m from the car. All told, this route is scenic and quiet, but doesn't havw a lot of technicla trial to justify all the pushing.

Further North Wales exploration, about 1.5 hours closer to home than Snowdonia lead us to the Berwyns. We downloaded this route, although it's claim to be 25km is somewhat misleading - it's probably double that. We realised this after we set off, so the first bit is a bit rubbish:

From Pen y Bont (188343) we climbed on steep doubletrack and road to Pensarn (184328) to Llidiart cae hir, via some very rutted double track.

The real meat of the ride starts at Buarth yr e (098322) and climbs first on doubletrack, then as a push to near the summit of Tomle (082336). From here, the route goes up and down on singletrack, although this part of the world doesn't see much human erosion. As a consequence, the water ruts are huge and the route never flows in a satisfactory way as you're always jumping in and out of ruts (or hittign your pedals on them). Finally the descent proper, down to Moel is y Goedwig (052375) starts, but it is mostly grassy. From here is the "Wayfarer" crossing that any guidebook to the res talks about. A steady doubletrack climb goes all the way to the summit (092366) where there is a cairn and a book to sign. From here the doubletrack to Pentre (130355) is never steep, a bit loose and with some occasional bits of railway sleeper (the widest northshore you'll ever ride), but really it's unremarkable. In all, very quiet and scenic, but the riding isn't all the great. The guidebooks suggest further exploration might find some better descents.

The final Welsh day was at Coed Llandegla. This is a forest-based trail centre not owned by the FC! It's basically a red route with some black options, bringing it up to 21km, about 6km of black. It starts with a long, steady climb shared with the blue route. The next section is quite jumpy. But, not very smooth - on a hardtail at Alison speed it was a bit of a tooth rattler - would definitley take a full suss next time. This is followed by some better black bits - smoother, bermed descents, though with killer climbs to regain the height. Once you're back on the red route there's one bit to watch out for - a short loop of black, descends and suddenly goes up a massive bit of northshore. Not very narrow, but steep and and down, and must be 6m off the ground at the top. This bit really annoyed me as they're put brashings all over the chicken route, so as I hate these pointless "objective danger" features, I wheeled up and down this, but this was definitley not ideal as I nearly got caught up by the next rider. If I did this route again I'd just avoid this loop as it rejoins the red quite quickly, but unfortunatley there are no distinguishing features to help you identify it at the start! The route continues in classic red route style. There's a section of rustic board walk which is also avoidable (stick on the leat) but not as high, and a steep roll in that's also avoidable. The finish is a bit of a disappointment - it just rejoins the green and wends its way back to the car park - no awesome final descent. So, as you can guess, this isn't my favourite trail centre - nothing technical, just big feaures that need riding fast and confidentally. Rich has a much higher opinion! And apparently it's the most popular trail centre for girls...?

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