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Coed y Brenin Trip October 2004

After much planning and anticipation the weekend finally arrived and we departed for a weekend of mountain biking mayhem in North Wales. Most of us had heard about the awesome, fully marked out trails in Coed-Y-Brenin, but only a couple of us had actually been there and experienced it before. Andy, chief club roadie decided to join us for the weekend too, hoping to do some serious lycra clad ripping up of the remote roads of north Wales.

We left in the minibus (& trailer) at about 6pm on Friday and after a slight detour to Oxford to pick up my bro & Imperial old boy Seb, we made good progress on the motorway – then we got to Wales, where dual carriage ways have not been discovered yet and obstacles such as mountains create ludicrously long detours.  In addition to this, our vehicle was a grossly underpowered knackered old union minibus, which struggled up several inclines even in first gear!  On the positive side, many of the horror stories involving sheep and slow moving vehicles failed to materialise…

We arrived at a village called Trawsfynnyd at around midnight, where we had booked a ‘Norwegian Log Cabin’ for the weekend.

Anyway, when we found the place we were pleasantly surprised. An authentic Norwegian log cabin it was! - complete with central heating, a kitchen, bathroom/ shower, bunk beds and ‘Chillout moods 4’ playing in the background. No freezing our arses off in the Imperial Mountain Hut this year! And best of all, it was only 3miles from CYB!

After unpacking and chilling with a beer, and salivating over all the activities available for tourists in the brochure such as ‘walking stick making’, ‘sightseeing local nuclear power stations’ or ‘visiting the Trawsfynnyd rabbit farm’ we headed to bed at about 1, having agreed we’d get up at about 9.
We were greeted by sunshine and clear blue skies in the morning and headed to CYB at about 10, stopping briefly in Trawsfynnyd for a bacon sandwich and cup of tea in the local café after parting company with Andy and his road bike. By 10:30am we were hitting the trails - First up, the MBR loop – a medium length but action packed route. We all set off together initially but then agreed to split into two groups after the initial climb gave most of us a rude awakening (most notably Seb on his singlespeed jump bike!). The climb made way for an awesome singletrack descent, which was just a taste of what was to come. The MBR loop is a prime example of what all mtb trails should be: smoothe gentle climbs with a mixture of fast, tight, highly technical and highly engineered descents which cry out to be attacked. Fantastic, but extremely hard on bikes - with weight saving of prime concern, many modern xc bikes are prone to mechanical breakages – and with our large group size it wasn’t long before we had our first: A slightly buckled front wheel following an unintended off-piste excusion. Fortunately, with the right tools at hand it was fixed promptly and we were back hitting the trails in no time. Punctures, chain breakages and gear problems followed…

Having completed the MBR loop by lunchtime, we decided to do the slightly less technical, but more scenic Red Bull loop in the afternoon. Although less challenging from a fitness and skill point of view, it was every bit as enjoyable as the MBR loop, with the harsher, bumpier and rockier descents providing an equally thrilling experience at speed, with some serious air to be had too. Too much air for some – several members of the group experienced some spectacular rider-over-handlebar crashes, and it’s a wonder there were no major injuries! We completed the loop by about 4pm and rendezvoused with Seb (who had opted out of the second ride for emotional reasons) at the duel course for some fun and games!

We got back to the log cabin at around 6, finding Andy sitting patiently in the warmth, having finished his 80 mile morning ride around Snowdonia 4 hours ago. He later revealed he had bumped into some “friendly” IC Medic Mountaineers, who just happened to be on his route to the summit of Mount Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales.

That evening, we decided to go for a pub dinner.  Then, after dinner, back to cabin we headed, for a night of partying! er… not quite… in fact, most of us were too knackered from the day’s riding, and we were all in bed by about 1.

Sunday was another fabulous day with not a sign of cloud in the sky. Andy once again hit the road, whilst we headed back to CYB.  With many people still sore from the first day’s riding, we decided we would split into two groups, with a couple of us doing the epic 34mile Karrimor loop – a long, hard and really scenic route winding deep into the hills with the occasional highly technical singletrack section - whilst the others would do the slightly less demanding Sport loop, a ‘all the fun bits’ route.

After another awesome day’s riding it was finally time to head back to London. Having vacated the cabin in the morning, none of us had been able to take showers and the 6 hour journey home was an interesting one to say the least! All in all a highly successful weekend. Next up, Scotland…

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