5 Nov 2007

RAF Cycling Buddy Rides

Penmachno - Sunday 4 November 2007

For those of you that have not ridden the Penmachno trail in North Wales, you are missing a real treat. I rode it earlier this year but since then a second loop has been added which increased the total ride length to around 30 km. We had a cracking day. The weather was actually perfect, yes perfect. Clear blue skies with the faintest of white wisps in the air, crisp cool air and warm sun on our backs when out in the open. As the nights mist weaved its way up and out of the trees we departed the car park on the first climb of the day.

Three of us headed over from Cosford. Andy, an old-time MTB’er who is now having a mid-life crisis and just splashed out thousands on new MTB kit and Pete, a former roadie who is returning to cycling from several years out and has decided that knobbly tyres are more fun.

The trail makes great use of the Penmachno forest in the Snowdonia National Park. What makes it impressive is the way in which it has been built by volunteers from the local village and how it rides better than some significantly more expensive ventures in Wales. The additional loop takes you higher for longer, with some tremendous views. It is by no means just about extra miles for miles sake though. The additional distance is primarily made from more singletrack and an epic boardwalk section suspended above what can only be described as a quagmire. A tremendous amount of effort has gone into a flowing sustainable trail. There is no messing in the boggy sections of the forest; there must be hundreds of metres of boardwalk and furthermore beautiful slabs of rock have been placed to ensure you keep moving over streams and bogs. Not bad value for a £1 donation in the honesty box.

What is also a little different about this trail is the way it takes you out of the forest, affording some excellent views as you pound across a rugged and sometimes narrow pavements of rock before charging you down escarpments interspersed with switch-backs some of which are bermed. The final descent is a real roller coaster with compressions and turns on the crests. When we rode it, it was very slippery due to the decomposing mulch of pine needles and leaf under tyre. In summer, it must be fast.
Happy trails..... Sam