This past weekend saw me hooking up with Ben, Matt, Ruth, Claire and Mark for a bit of Mountain bike adventure in Mid-Wales. The plan was to ride the Cli-machx trail at Machynlleth first, back to Claire's house in Llanymynech for a curry and then head out again on Sunday to ride at Nant-Y-Arian.
After the normal wait for Mr White ( who even after purchasing a new super fast A3 still can't get anywhere on time ), we left Mark and Claire to board the loft and headed out in convoy to the Ancient Capital of Wales, Machynlleth. Finding that place was easy ( seems like most roads in Mid-wales lead there! ). However using a dodgy bike map to the Cli-machx trail lead us up some interesting tracks before the Force was utilised to get to the car-park at the bottom of the trail.
The Cli-machx trail has been bigged up a lot recently, designed and managed by the Dyfi Mountain bikers it had an impressive reputation ( the longest downhill in Wales? ). Truth is, compared to other managed trails it rates as 'OK'. There are plenty of little jumps and stuff to keep you interested, but too many of the sections build up to nothing and on a couple of occasions you feel a little cheated. The final downhill is a bit of a gem though. Lots of nice drop offs, fast berms and some very cheeky North Shore ( if anyone knows how to get to it without walking can you let me know! ). It is just a pity the rest of the trail lets the whole route down.
After a quick stop in 'Mach' for a pastry we headed back to Llanymynech with empty bellies hungry for curry. After a quick pint in the pub, Claire persuaded/reminded/dragged us to the local village hall to hear a delightful Silver Band ( like brass, but silver? ). It was for charity though and their version of Bohemian Rhapsody did get the blue rinses headbanging! Soon after ( well in the intermission ) we were all in the curry house, toasting our day and filling our toned six-packs with calories in preparation for the next adventure.
After a night on the floor with Claire's cats, we loaded up the wagons and headed to Nant-Y-Arian, which is practically a stones throw from Aberystwyth. We were greeted by a hanging damp and cold wind. I know it is January, but what is wrong with a little sunshine? Playing around in the car park I managed to destroy my chain and for a moment I did think I would be sitting in the car park. However, Mark the Mountain Goat came to my rescue with his box of tricks and bodged it together to last the ride at least.
From the off the Summit Trail is a blast.( we actually did the whole Summit Trail plus a couple of sections of the another trail at the top ) Flying off the boulders on the 'Italian Job' with jelly legs right at the beginning is a great warm up and it just keeps going. The crux of the whole trip is an awesome alpine-esque downhill traverse. Great exposure, lots of whoops and plenty of 'nearly lost its' make this section of trail well worth the trip. OK, it is followed by a 2 mile uphill ( with a pointless off-fire-road section called 'Emmanuelle' ), but I will be heading back to 'Nanty' as it has plenty for a good days riding.
The only bad thing from the whole weekend was the management of the centre at Nant-y-Arian. I suggest they take a trip to Llandegla and see how you should manage a popular centre. The car parks were still full when we got off the trail at 15:30, yet they had closed the cafe 30 mins earlier. What is the point in having a centre and not catering for the needs of the users? Short-sighted would be an understatement.
Cracking weekend though, I just need to source about 15 parts to keep my bike going through the summer now...
MENTAL NOTE: Take more pics of the downhill sections