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Snowdonia MTB, November 2006
Mountain Biking

With Bruce, Mike, Mike R., Nick, Scott, Simon.

Fri 24 Nov 2006
We all gathered at my place, loaded up the bikes and were on the road soon after 5:30. The Mikes drove and despite different routes, different chippies in Llangollen and torrential rain we all made it to Llanberis YHA
in good time. The rooms were fine and we wandered down to the Heights for a few beers to prepare us for tomorrow.

Sat 25 Nov 2006
Up around 7:30 and porridge for breakfast. The sky was grey and there was a gusty wind but the rain had stopped and it wasn't too cold. Mike was first away, to walk the Snowdon Horseshoe. The rest of us put our bikes together and were off at 9:05. There was no gentle warm up as we turned up the hill to climb steeply to the end of the road. A track then countours into Telegraph Valley where it turns into a well constructed slate path. The surface is good and the gradient OK so we rode at a steady pace.

Sat 25 Nov 2006
Scott and Mike R. near the foot of Telegraph Valley.
Snowdonia MTB, November 2006 Mountain Biking 2006

Sat 25 Nov 2006
Bruce, Nick, Scott, Simon and Mike R. warming up as Telegraph Valley starts to climb.
Snowdonia MTB, November 2006 Mountain Biking 2006

Bang! Puncture number 1. Nick's rear tyre had an inch-long gash in the side wall where the tube had escaped and caught on a rock. We had to patch the tyre and some gaffer tape just about did the job, but we were stopped for 15 minutes - plenty of time to get cold in the wind. The remaining climb to Bwlch Maesgwm soon warmed us up and we were snacking at the col by 10:10.

Sat 25 Nov 2006
Scott and Mike R. approaching the head of Telegraph Valley.
Snowdonia MTB, November 2006 Mountain Biking 2006

The run down to SH573552 (path junction) was on very wet grass with a final steep section. Soon after we turned onto the Snowdon Ranger path a short steep section was a dismount for most. Bruce made a brave attempt and an unplanned dismount. Mike R. made it look very easy so I followed his line and manged to stay upright. Then it was a blast down the slate path, taking care with the water courses, all the way to Snowdon Ranger YHA - 320m descent in 9 minutes.

We spun along the road to Rhyd-Ddu , straight past the pub which was our bad-weather alternative and picked up a bridleway to lead us to Beddgellert Forest. We chose the lower one, saving the other for a good downhill on the way back. This was a bad move as there is no trace of a path on the ground. We picked a line through the old quarry but there was no way to ride or keep your feet dry as we struggled uphill through sodden tussocks. The "elephant grass" was a test of resolve and I'm not sure everyone wanted to be tested. 1km and 30 minutes later we made it into the forest and only at the last minute did we see the track that I had confidently predicted at SH563512 (forest corner) .

Scott noticed his rear tyre was bubbling strangely and by the time we reached SH557512 (bridge) we had another puncture to fix. We were now on "Llewelyn's Loop" as described in the BikeFax guide. Past SH556509 (track junction) , riding on good forest tracks and climbing steadily to SH546512 (bridge) at the top of the forest by 12:30.

Sat 25 Nov 2006
Mike R., Nick, Bruce, Simon and Scott, after climbing up through Beddgelert Forest, ready for some singletrack.
Snowdonia MTB, November 2006 Mountain Biking 2006

Sat 25 Nov 2006
Mark at the top of Beddgelert Forest, looking towards Yr Aran.
Snowdonia MTB, November 2006 Mountain Biking 2006

Sat 25 Nov 2006
Nick at the top of Beddgelert Forest.
Snowdonia MTB, November 2006 Mountain Biking 2006

Sat 25 Nov 2006
Mark, Nick, Scott and Mike R. at the top of Beddgelert Forest.
Snowdonia MTB, November 2006 Mountain Biking 2006

Sat 25 Nov 2006
Nick, Mark, Bruce and Mike R. at the top of Beddgelert Forest, looking towards Yr Aran.
Snowdonia MTB, November 2006 Mountain Biking 2006

Fast singletrack dropped us quickly back down to SH557512 (bridge) where we faffed about a bit, trying to make sense of the route description, before heading down through SH556509 (track junction) to some more varied singletrack - a rocky stream, then some fast sweeping curves and a final bouncy section.

Sat 25 Nov 2006
Mike R. on some wet singletrack in Beddgelert Forest.
Snowdonia MTB, November 2006 Mountain Biking 2006

Sat 25 Nov 2006
Scott riding a stream in Beddgelert Forest.
Snowdonia MTB, November 2006 Mountain Biking 2006

Sat 25 Nov 2006
Scott, Mike R. and big puddles in Beddgelert Forest.
Snowdonia MTB, November 2006 Mountain Biking 2006

Scott had another blowout and Simon's tyre went soft just as we reached the bike shop at Hafod Ruffydd . It was all locked up so no chance of any new tyres yet.

We had been discussing 3 options for getting home:
  1. Up the road to Waunfawr and back over to Llanberis.
  2. Back over Telegraph Valley.
  3. Over Snowdon.
Given the time (1:30), weather (changeable) and our fitness (mixed) we opted for the middle choice. Fast forest tracks took us down, over the restored railway line to SH573502 (carpark) . Then a steady grind up to SH575508 (track corner) and back to SH557512 (bridge) . Mike R. was clearly glad we weren't going over Snowdon! Some mixed singletrack led back down to Rhyd-Ddu .

Sat 25 Nov 2006
Scott crossing a stream on the descent to Rhyd-Ddu.
Snowdonia MTB, November 2006 Mountain Biking 2006

The combination of rocks, mud and tired legs caused a couple of spectacular falls, me included. The slight downhill back along the road to Snowdon Ranger YHA was very welcome.

We now faced the steep 320m climb that had taken us 9 minutes on the way down. We were soon pushing up the hill with the more pig-headed of us insisting on riding wherever humanly possible. Mike R. decided that he'd prefer to go around via the road. Luckily(?) he'd already done enough of the climb to make turning back a bad choice. As he got back on his bike, the effort needed to get moving snapped his chain. Luckily, removing a couple of links went smoothly and we were soon moving again. The steep, wet grass at SH573552 (path junction) needed teamwork - some people returning for bikes and some pushing two at once. Somehow we all got to the top of Bwlch Maesgwm by 3:40, just as the sun was sinking towards the Nantlle Ridge. The climb had taken 50 minutes.

Sat 25 Nov 2006
Sunset over Moel Hebog and the Nantlle ridge. Simon, Bruce, Nick, Mike R. and Scott at the head of Telegraph Valley ready for the final descent of the day.
Snowdonia MTB, November 2006 Mountain Biking 2006

Now the payoff - 4km downhill, all the way home. Nick, Scott and Simon set off first and were soon specks on the path below. We followed. Bruce was really flying over the watercourses. Unfortunately we soon caught up with the others, changing another puncture in Nick's rear tube. Simon thought that the new tube was hissing but we decided to get moving. It didn't take long to be sure that tube was no good and Simon had another puncture for good measure. Eventually we got going again. The riding was great and even the road section was fun. We arrived back at Llanberis YHA at 4:15 just as the light was fading.

Elapsed time7:10
Ride time3:23
Average speed8.6km/h
Maximum speed43.8km/h

In the evening we ate at Pete's Eats and then struggled to find a decent pub in Llanberis. We ended up back at the Heights.

Sun 26 Nov 2006
It poured down with rain overnight and no-one was in a rush to get up. Simon masterminded the bacon and egg sandwiches for a leisurely breakfast and blue sky started appearing as we loaded up. We drove to Betws y Coed
where Nick and Scott bought new tyres. Mike R. had decided to ride his Segway and Mike P. was joining us (after a successful round of the Snowdon Horseshoe the day before).

We got going at 11:15, the Segway attracting a lot of attention, but we were soon onto the forest tracks of "Elin's Fancy". We climbed steadily, through SH793542 (track junction) , down a short setion of singletrack and up again to SH772542 (track junction) . On the climbs it was clear that Mike hadn't been cycling all day the day before. We joined the roman road of Sarn Helen to take us quickly, and wetly down to SH770573 (building) . As mud sprayed all over me I thought my new mudguard wasn't working very well, then realised I'd left it in the van.

We continued down on fast forest tracks - so fast that we missed our turning and did an extra stream crossing where Scott and Mike both narrowly avoided getting very wet. As we climbed again on the right path the Segway batteries were getting low and I realised my 11km quoted for the first loop was wrong - not sure where that came from. The two Mike's headed down to the road to take the short way back to Betws.

And then there were five. The trail undulated before spitting us out at The Ugly House where we planned to join the Marin Trail. Scott had another puncture and we struggled to get the new tyre on and off, then a brutal climb got us up to the purpose-built trail. We didn't hang around on the fast forest roads and twisty singletrack.

Sun 26 Nov 2006
Scott, Bruce and Nick taking a rare break on the Marin Trail.
Snowdonia MTB, November 2006 Mountain Biking 2006

We headed east to SH792576 (building) , then north to a stunning sequence of singletrack that drops you quickly down to the official finish - SH788607 (carpark) .

It was 2:30 and Scott and Simon decided to take the road back to Betws. And then there were three. Bruce, Nick and I wanted to get one more loop in, so we set off up the road. A steep 120m took us to the Hafna Mine, then another 120m climb on forest tracks had us all pretty knackered. Some nice, fast singletrack took us through SH768598 (track bend) and we started to lose some height. It was 3:15 and getting noticably colder. From SH767584 (road junction) we sped down the minor road back to Betws y Coed .

Elapsed time4:15
Ride time2:58
Average speed12.0km/h
Maximum speed45.2km/h

Final mechanical failure league table:
Scott3Replaced rear tyre and snapped a tyre lever
Nick2.5Replaced rear tyre
Mike R.0Snapped chain
Mike0Brake blocks worn to the metal
Mark0Squeaky brakes

Copyright © Mark Bailey 1987-2007