The idea was simple: I was going to tag along with the MBSwindon ladies on a weekend at Coed y brenin in order to find out what they talk about on these trips and also do a bit of riding around. The venue was the Rhiw Goch bunkhouse which is opposite the Rhiw Goch Inn and only a few miles from the Coedybrenin trails with an obvious link via lanes and tracks. This was a catered weekend with Hit The Hills (who also ran the MBSwindon Jan 2013 trip at the luxurious long house)
More info about Coed y brenin is on the foresty commission website (soon moving to Natural Resources Wales) and MBWales. The original, famous cafe was run by Dayfdd and Sian Roberts who now offer catered accommodation at The Old Skool which is a few minutes away from Rhiw Goch.
A quick summary of the trails….it needs a map with all of them! *routes are the main building blocks. See MBWales for more info:
- Yr Afon – valley roads and tracks
- *Minotaur – new start section, a few tracks the river and Dragon’s back return.
- *MBR (close loop)
- Temtiwr – start and finish of the Dragon’s back
- Cyflym Coch – Dragon’s back start, part of Minortaur and then back via Dragon’s back
- *Dragon’s back (far loop)
- *The Beast of Brenin (MBR + Dragon’s back)
- *Tarw – original route on the other side of the valley
I was joined on Saturday by Alastair. My plans were to go out and ride as many trails as possible over the time I was there. I’d been studying the trail map and had identified some cunning links on tracks to join various bits together. We were starting from the bunk house and using some link tracks to reach the trails.
Alastair started out with a lot of energy but was ground down as the day progressed. I’d been covering a lot of distance on my own recently and this had clearly increased my stamina.
We met up with Christian from Hit the Hills at the Cafe on the hill in the afternoon before he set off to get a bit lost on his way back to prepare the evening meal.
This was definitely one of those great days of riding. The more I rode the more I wanted to ride. It was a great feeling. The trails at Coedybrenin have a few slightly edgy bits in terms of rocks and steps. It’s a very consistent level over the whole centre and a lot of fun. If anything they lack a few harder bits or bigger jumps, such as found in the Scottish centres (Kirroughtree is probably my favourite trail at the moment).
The route we took was made up of the following. I hope you can keep up. Basically, pretty much everything on the visitor centre side of the river. Probably.
- link from bunk barn
- middle section of MBR route
- loop to trail centre via end of Minortaur
- out from trail centre (Dragon’s Back)
- new section to river (Minortaur)
- up track back onto MBR/Dragon’s Back/Beast, do Pink Heiffer and the big loop
- down track onto end of the MBR, short cut across river bridge
- final climb and descent (MBR/Dragon’s Back/Beast)
- out from trail centre on new blue trail (Minortaur).
- first section of the MBR route
- link back to bunk barn via two killer climbs
So that’s all of the MBR, Dragon’s Back and therefore the Beast plus some of the Minortaur. Timtawr and Cyflym Coch were also covered. That’s everything apart a short section of the Minortaur and the Tarw trail. Actually, a small section of road was missed from the Beast by using the Minortaur climb instead. Is that a fail? Does anyone care?
Back at base Christian had made a brilliant veggie rice cake, the best veggie option I’ve had a good while. He is a trained chef; that’s what he does. I also know what the women talk about on their trips but I can’t reveal it. What goes on tour stays on tour.
On the Sunday I drove to the visitor centre and was joined by Kate for a lap of the Beast. It was a slightly modified route, see below. I even rode down and up the crossover at the end of Pink Heiffer to make sure I’d ridden all options. Just a bit of fun rather than OCD.
After that I was feeling pretty energetic so decided to go and ride the original trail on the other side of the valley (Tarw). Christian had been raving on about it. There were a few sections that were entertaining, such as the rocks on the Snap, Crackle and Pop sections. There was also a fair amount of vaguely dull slog. The views were good though. The big rock culvert towards the end brought the interest levels back up.
Whilst I was there I decided to go and find the trails at the original trail centre. I rode into the old car park and managed to find the line up the hill. The berms and rocks were still there, just a bit overgrown. I remember a really good rock wall section in that area and that’s what I was looking for. I didn’t really find it, but I still had the chance to reminisce about the original trail centre.
After that I still fancied doing some more so I went to find the original Gomez descent. In the early 2000s the trail was rather more gnarly in that area before it was replaced by “anodyne swoopy blue*” trail in about 2008 (*TM). I’m pretty sure the original trail was unsustainable and probably too dangerous given how remote the trail is. All the same, it’s a pity that it went because it was a good challange. I rode round in circles for a while until I spotted a very vague scar on a grassy bank and realised that it was the original trail road crossing. In the woods I found strong evidence of the trail – wooden steps, rocks and a lot of felled trees.
I remembered that the trail followed a natural gulley after crossing the road so I had a go at riding that. Most of it was there until I ended up sliding around in the middle of logging tracks. Eventually I crossed the existing trails and rejoined them.
That was deemed to be enough riding for the weekend.
The route was made up of:
- The beast (MBR/Dragon’s Back) but with Cafe short cut (removes the long fire road loop)
- The two descents before Pink Heiffer were swapped over by riding up/down a link section of track. This did the longer one first and then allowed the shorter one to be used on the return plus a short cut across the bridge onto the final climb. Cunning eh!
- The Tawr trail.
- Extra bit round the old trail centre car park.
- Short cut on rocks.
- The missing secion of the Minotaur
- Big track climb to Gomez (Dragon’s Back/The Beast)
- Half an hour spent riding round looking for the remains of the old trail
- Same descent and short cut as on the first lap.
That means I knocked off all of the Tawr trail and the missing section of the Minortaur. So there was just a short section of road that wasn’t ridden over the weekend. I don’t think anyone cares about the details so I can claim that I rode every trail from blue up over the weekend.
That was probably enough riding for a weekend.