Coed Y Brenin, the spiritual heart of trail centre riding in the UK. The first public trail centre in the land and home to some great trails. It had been somewhere I’d wanted to visit for a little while, but seeing the BIKE channel visit as part of their Mountain Bike Adventures series made me want to go even more.
So when Si, Dec and G started messaging me about a potential social ride there I think it’s fair to say I was keen. The original plan was for a gathering of anyone who wanted to join on the 19th of February, and rip up some trails. The message went out on Twitter using the #BreninMeetup tag and interest from a few people started to arrive. Otherwise, there was fairly little planning. Some discussion went into the choice of route, but it was pretty much open to change right until we put feet on pedals and headed out.
For me, the journey was around the three and a half hour mark. So a day trip was out of the question – instead a I’d have to make a weekend of it. Luckily, I wasn’t the only one. Si agreed that two days riding are better than one, and so proceeded to book some accommodation. February, and the sporadic weather, meant that we didn’t really favour the idea of camping so the promise of a caravan for the weekend was welcome. Fortunately, Si was well ahead of the organising and booked us in at Cae Gwyn, a brilliant little site just a couple of miles down the road from the trails at Coed Y Brenin. Easy to find (thanks, Sat Nav) and a well organised little site.
Although the caravan didn’t look up to much when we arrived, it was plenty warm enough and meant that we had somewhere to dump the bags before getting on the bikes and heading up the road to the trails. The little cut-through we were recommended by the owners of the campsite brought us out on a rocky descent into the skills area, and a little look around to find the visitor centre meant it was time for lunch.
The afternoon of the Saturday gave us enough time before dark to tackle the Cyflym Coch trail. I can only assume that means ‘red fox’ since the image on the posts all around the trail was that of a red fox (though a Welsh speaking reader of this might want to correct me if I’m wrong). Estimated between 1.5 and 3 hours of riding, the trail was fast and an absolute blast. With some rocky sections thrown in for good measure, it kept me on my toes plenty, and even let me get my first pinch flat. Unfortunately, running such a low PSI (sub 20) meant that the hole was too big for my sealant to plug and meant a tube had to be thrown in my rear tyre. After a bit of a faff, we finished up the trail and headed to the skills park for a bit of a blast.
Way beyond any other skills park I’ve ridden in, the one at Beics Brenin is top drawer stuff. The lemming stone and sideways slab are both brilliant parts of the park to help with progression, and the blue section is so much fun to just lap again and again. The slab, in particular, took me a couple of attempts to get down and, watching the footage back, leaves me with a few areas of improvement for next time.
A quick pedal back to the campsite, shower, and change and then it was off to a pub for tea. Somewhat of a strange building, with a massive wooden door, missing plaster on the walls and low light output, I thought we’d be in for a bit of a terrible meal. How wrong I was. Everyone was friendly enough and the steak and ale pie was decent.
The Sunday followed on from a good night’s sleep and the weather, although not as good as Saturday, was pretty decent. Even more so considering that the week before was snow. After loading the cars, Si and I headed up to the trails again. £5 for the full day of parking seemed reasonable, and the cafe was the best value of any trail centre I’ve visited.
With a sausage sandwich in the belly, the 9 of us who met that morning headed out onto the MBR trail. A few long climbs throughout the trail were well rewarded by the long, fast descents. Taking in some of Saturday’s fox trail meant that, in parts, I knew what to expect. The longer we were out though, the more my legs felt the second day of riding and, admittedly, I had to push some of the climbs. The downs were worth it thoroughly though, and I’d be more than happy heading back again. If you wanted to watch a long video of much of the MBR, I’ve hashed together a little something which can be found here.
All in all, the weekend was great. The trails and weather were both exceptional and made for an enjoyable ride on both days. The meet-up itself made it all the more special though. Heading out onto the trails, following others down, and knowing there’s someone following you, and sharing in the love of biking turned an excellent day’s riding into one of the best I’ve had.
I look forward to the next one.