Fear. Pain. Excitement.
These 3 words became the strap-line for a recent 2 day trip to North Wales when I rode with a mate at Coed-y-Brenin and Nant-yr-Arian.
We both had a couple of days holiday to use up before the end of the year and for one reason or another we’d not had our regular group winter weekend away. With spouse passes were applied for and stamped, holiday from work booked, B&B sorted we set off for Dollgellau in North Wales on Sunday night. It was a fair old trek to get there and it rained for the last part of the journey but we booked in at 7pm and were in the pub by half past. A couple of beers and food in a local restaurant and it was decided to start off with the old Red Bull trail now called Tarw Du.
Monday 3rd Dec 2012 – Coed-y-Brenin
The carpark was eerily empty when we got there at 9.30 with only a few cars, non with bike racks. It seemed that we were alone in our idea of an early December days riding on a Monday. The joy of riding on a pair is that there is less bike tweaking and general faffing about. New pads had been fitted on Sunday night so the bikes were taken of the rack and we were ready to ride in no time at all. As we have similar fitness and ability levels we decided to ride 2 trails each day where in a larger group you’d struggle with darkness closing in around 4pm. All that extra bike tweaking, mechanical issues and waiting for the slower climbers/descenders means you lose valuable riding time.
The first ever UK trail centre route, sponsored by Red Bull, is an iconic trail. You start off riding through the red bulk horns and there is a shortish fun singletrack ending with Seven Sisters section, to start to get yourself dialled in. It’s a good indicator as to what’s to come.
Snap, Crackle and Pop are short and interesting
The cafe was empty. We were the only customers and although not hungry decided we’d eat which in retrospect was a bad idea. Cheese and Tomato panini after a cooked breakfast and couple of hours riding made for a slow start to the afternoons lap of MBR. There are some cracking sections, most of which I can’t recall the names of but I do know that I enjoyed Rocky Horror show.
The Stag Inn provided us with a couple of pints of decent beer plus a decent sized meal. An early night followed so we’d be fit and ready for day 2
Tuesday 4th December – Nant-yr-Arian
It’s a fair drive from Dolgellau to Nant-yr-Arian and it seems the vast majority of the EU funding money is being spent adding 6ft to the width of most of the roads. An hour or so later we arrived to another almost empty car park. We made the third car with bikes and parked in the most sheltered part of the car park to avoid the rather cold wind.
The plan was more of what we’d done at Coed-y-Brenin so we set off to ride…
Not as long as Tarw Du, nor as extreme but Summit is a cracking trail. The highlights are The Italian Job and Mark of Zorro sections with High as a Kite to finish.The rest is either a bit of a slog (The leg burner is just that and Emanuelle is really just not worth it) or not overly exciting.
These 3 sections really make this trail great and we arrived back at the cafe in great spirits.
After a quick coffee and cake-fest (Coffee and Walnut for Pete, Chocolate for myself) we decided to ride Pendam in the afternoon. Our hearts wanted to ride Summit again but the legs said something shorter and it includes The Italian Job and High as a Kite so we knew there were some fun sections. I don’t remember much of the rest of the trail but the second ride of the sections we did in Summit were much faster and smoother.
Quick change, hose down bikes and we were headed home.
I’m writing this a week after and the lasting memories are of the Fear of riding fast down some of the rockier sections, the Pain of the climbs and he sheer childish Excitement of taking 2 days off school to go ride my bike with a mate to single some amazing singletrack. It’s trips like this that make getting up early and riding the muddy fields of Warwickshire in all weathers to get fit, worthwhile.
Both centres and trails will be packed in the summer, but I feel we got the best deal, riding in early December, on empty trails, on amazing bikes with no waiting around. I’ll be booking more holiday and heading to Wales soon.
We stayed at : Ivy House B&B in Dolgellau
We rode : Yeti ASR-AL (Dave), Giant Anthem (Pete)
We enjoyed : Tarw Du, MBR, Summit, Pendam
We filmed using : GoPro Hero2
We ate at : Stag Inn, Dolgellau
We had: a brilliant 2 days