Wales, Trails and Gales

I came up with that title at 3am Sunday morning, lying in a tent in Llandegla, listening the wind howling outside and periodically being hit in the face with canvas as the wind bowed the tent…

Catchy eh?

Owain and I decided that after a couple of weeks hibernation, it was time get back into action. Since I hadn’t been on my mountain bike for about 8 months, we figured it was about time it came out of retirement and I got back on the trails. Owain had been up to the One Planet Trail Centre at Llandegla a few weeks prior and had raved about the fast flowy trails so the plan was hatched…

After a lie in on Saturday morning,  we packed the car with bikes, helmets,  camelbaks,  tent, sleeping bags, Cornish pasties and Pombears. 

We found ourselves a beautiful campsite right opposite the trail centre, dumped the tent and headed off up the hill. And up, and up, and up, and up a bit more…

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Our campsite with a rather nice view

The first section of the red trail at Llandegla is uphill, firstly on some rocky switchbacks then on smoother wider paths. There was a race on at the centre so we were sticking to the left side of the path, being overtaken by some knackered looking bikers with amazing calf muscles.  At the top of the hill,  when you eventually get there, you get an idea of the treats that lie ahead with two wide sweeping berms before heading downhill through the forest.

The trails here are stunning. Besides my personal nemesis of the boardwalks they persisted in putting at the end of short sharp ascents (which I kept slipping on) I can’t get across how much I loved them.

I’m a very cautious (wussy) mountain biker and throughout the red trail gave me the opportunity to let go a bit, build speed and practise my jumps without being (too) petrified of hitting something I couldn’t handle. I’ll admit, there was a reasonable amount of squealing going on.

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Getting a small amount of air off one the boardwalks

On the other side though,  Owain is the complete opposite. He’s a very good, aggressive mountain biker and he found the trails as rewarding as I did – except when he got stuck behind me! They really are stunning, some great fast downhills, plenty of drops and jumps, a range of berms and really well maintained. No ruts or roots to catch you out.

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Taking it easy on one of the boardwalks

Of course, it’s not just about the trails; cake has an important role to play in any day out biking and I can confirm the chocolate brownies at Llandegla are unbelievable. Huge, squishy in the middle, delicious. Exactly what you need after scaring yourself on the trails.

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Tea and cake gave us enough energy to get back to the campsite, get showered and drive to nearby Llangollen to check out some of the local scenery. A quick visit to the abbey and a walk across the aqueduct was enough for us and it was off to the pub for dinner and a well deserved beer!

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Valle Crucis Abbey

A relaxing evening in the pub was followed by a night of no sleep. Literally no sleep. Although warm and comfortable,  the noise from the howling winds and the frequent bowing of the tent kept us wide awake all night. Luckily we had Cornish pasties for breakfast,  and Hobnob bars which cheered us right up.

Tent down, packed away, we drove back to Llandegla to meet up with pal Dave and get back on the trails. This time, I had two people to trip up from my slowness! Luckily Dave is very patient and Owain is used to my squealing and braking so no one came to any harm.

Another amazing day on the trails was followed by yet more tea and cake before heading home to collapse on the sofa!

A bloody brilliant weekend; it was great to get back outside. Despite our chappy night of sleep we both loved getting back in the tent. We’ve missed sleeping outdoors and we both had an amazing time on the trails.

And only one minor injury was sustained! Admittedly,  this was caused by my stepping off the trail whilst pushing my bike up a big hill and walking right into a giant bramble. If I were less lazy and more fit and actually stayed on my bike, it wouldn’t have happened. Can’t complain really.

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