All entries for Monday 08 August 2005

August 08, 2005

Coed–y–Brenin in a day

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I had the rare treat of an entire day to go biking, so Patrick and I headed for deepest, darkest, Welshest Wales – specifically, to ride the trails at Coed-y-Brenin, north of Dolgellau.

It was a bit of a trek to get there – including a half-hour detour to pick Patrick up, about 4 hours driving. We arrived a whisker after 11, and set off on the Karrimor – at 38K, the longest trail there.

CyB is one of the oldest of the Welsh MTB centers, and the trails have a somewhat different feel to newer ones like Afan. They're generally more technical, especially where the descents have started to erode so that you've got ruts as well as rocks to contend with. They also tend to stick with fire-roads for most of the climbs, and singletrack descents, whereas Afan has at least some singletrack climbs.

High points on the Karrimor were the three descents known as 'snap, crackle, and pop' – fast and very rocky lines, the 'Adams family' descents (Gomez, Morticia, Fester and It) – starting off as series of steep-and-loose drops, before morphing into a fast flowing line that dropped gradually to a beautiful wooded valley, and the never-ending climbs onto Maol Hafodwen (sp?), to be finally rewarded by a fantastic view, then three pinch-punctures in quick sucession (gah!)

After a 40-minute lunch stop, we set off once more, this time on the 22K MBR trail. Another grinding climb bought us onto the superb 'cain and abel' descent, prompting the suggestion that in fact MBR might be nothing to do with 'Mountain Bike Rider' magazine, but in fact stand for 'Mind the Big Rocks'. A viscious climb up past Cwm-heisian-uchaf (one of the few 'techincal' climbs – 'cleaned' by Patrick following a supreme effort to get up the rock step at the top, which took me a couple of goes to get right), some flowing downhill singletrack, another short climb, and then the brilliant 'Pink Heifer' – steep, loose, with big rock steps and 'don't-brake-here' sections of ball-bearing sized dust and grit, usually in quick succession.

Back to the car, and we recovered for a few minutes before hauling our (by now very tired) legs back over the bikes for the 'Red Bull' – an 11K trail to finish the day off. The start was a repeat of the Karrimor over Snap, Crackle and Pop, then a long drag up including a very loose singletrack section whose only purpose seemed to be to set you up for a 10-foot step/roll down. I briefly considered hucking this from the top, but when I realised that my legs were too tired to lift the front wheel I thought better of it.

A short fire-road section then led to the beginning of the end – firstly 'rocky horror show' – despite the name, this was a long fast flowing singletrack section with some nice jumps, especially the one off the edge of a bridge – then a short climb and the final descents – steep and techincal through the woods with big rocks and drop-offs, finally spitting you out on a BMX-style slalom course complete with tabletops [launched :-)] and doubles [ bottled :( ]

At last, the end of the day. 70+K of riding, lord only knows how many feet of ascent, much fun all round.

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