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Mid Wales MTB, May 2006
Mountain Biking

Wet mountain biking weekend with Bruce, Simon, Sean, Steve, Scott.

Fri 19 May 2006
Scott and I set off at 6pm and were at the Wyeside Caravan and Camping Park
in Rhayader by 8:15. Steve had arrived earlier and was returning from the pub as we pulled in. It had been raining all week so the Wye was flowing fast along the bottom of the field. We chose a dryish spot well away from the river and set up our Aztec Palacio tent. Bruce and Simon arrived in his camper van just as we finished. We headed into Rhayader for some food, eventually getting something at the Chinese takeaway and beers in a few of the many pubs.

Sat 20 May 2006
Lots of rain overnight, so it was good to have the big tent. Sean arrived at 9:30 and the six of us set off. First to Clive Powell Mountain Bikes for Steve to buy a helmet and to ask about the condition of the trails we planned to ride. The advice was that the long bridleways over the tops (including the monk's road) would be too wet to be ridable so we changed our plans to stay nearer home.

We started west, over the river and then north-west, for a long climb up a minor road towards Penrhiw-wen. Near spot height 415
we turned off left, though a ford - the first of many - and up a gently rising track on to Esgair Penygarreg . The riding was good but the weather was terrible. The rain was driving horizontally into our faces. As we reached the top Simon had a puncture and we changed it quickly to avoid unnecessary hanging around. We passed a large group of walkers as we headed south and Scott recognised someone. The path became indistinct and boggy briefly as we swung back east towards Y Gurn but it soon improved and brought us to the second (and best) ford of the day. It was long, deep and boulder-free. The descent to the road (turning right at the wood) was fast. We met some other bikers at the top and some spooked horses at the bottom. We continued west up the road, then a long push up the bridleway over Y Glog Fawr . Ford number 3, then the descent to the Garreg-ddu Reservoir was steep and intimidating. Sean and I both fell off. The weather was better off the tops, but it was still wild and we felt the irresistible call of the Elan Valley Visitor Centre . A quick 4km along the lakeside path took us to soup, coffee, hot chocolate and cake.

We had started to dry out in the cafe and it was hard summoning up the will to leave. Luckily the weather had improved a bit and the climb south soon warmed us up. We took the track west to the saddle by The Clyn , before a good open descent and four more fords on the bridleway just south of the Caban-coch Reservoir . These were all ridable but tricky. There were various mishaps, most notably Steve having a quick lie down in the water and Sean falling off just before leaving dry land. At the road we continued west, uphill into the wind, to pick up the bridleway just beyond Clioerwynt . We took this, east over the Gors Goch and straight down through the woods to the bridge.

From here, the lakeside path took us north, up the east side of Garreg-ddu Reservoir and Penygarreg Reservoir . We stopped to fix Sean's broken chain and then to rest in the sun (yes, sun!). At the Craig Goch Reservoir we turned east and up. Most of the climb was steady but it steepened as it went onto the grass. Just as I was ready to get off and push it seemed that I was nearly there so I went for it and managed to ride all the way. The following wind helped. Across the top of Esgair Perfedd was boggy in places before a good descent to the road. Straight on and a gentle climb took us to the top of Maen-serth . From here a stunning downhill on a track with plenty of dropoffs took us back down to Rhayader .

51 km, 1200m of ascent, 4:51 ride time, 8:00 total time, 10.61 km/h average speed.

Dinner was at The Crown, Rhayader .

Sun 21 May 2006
Plenty more rain overnight and it was still raining as we had breakfast. Sticking to the woods seemed a good idea. Simon took his wheel to the bike shop to get some spokes fixed while we took the tent down. Sean had left the previous day to go to a wedding and Steve decided to avoid getting wet again and headed for home. The remaining four of us headed southwest to Coed Trallwm
. The visitor centre is nice so we started with coffee and cake. We rode all three trails and the bit past the "Advanced riders only" sign. It was all good, but in a couple of places the mud was too deep to ride. I enjoyed the blue most. Another trip to the cafe then time for home.

13.2 km, 400m of ascent, 1:30 ride time, 8.72 km/h average speed, 29.1 km/h maximum speed.

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