Welsh Trail Centre Watery Loveliness

“It’s always nice here in September – the trails pretty much reach their best by then”

I said this in late June to friend who has visited us quite a few times at Ty Beic in North Wales. Taking me at my word, he booked to stay for a week in September. Cue the wettest July, August and September that we can remember. Oh dear.

Well, not all bad. This was a sort of test of our experiment of moving to Bala – the thesis that there is varied year-round riding whatever the weather. Certainly, the natural riding wasn’t going to be very rewarding unless wrestling your bike out of a sucking bog is a favourite part of your XC action. But…

We have trail centres galore – and each one has its own character. Penmachno is always wet – but when I joined Paul for the two loops the water was in deep standing puddles. Luxury! You know Penmachno is really wet when the puddles join up and the whole trail is flowing – not in the overused flowy sense but in the having an actual watery current sense. It was a glorious day – we got wet from below and sunburnt from above.Penmachno viewLlandegla – mucky but only a light spray of filth. Sort of filth that looks like it’s been sprayed onto new bikes for a photoshoot. I hadn’t ridden here for ages and I had forgotten how much fun it can be.Oneplanet llandeglaCoed y Brenin – quite a few times. All rideable in all its majesty and the bike came back cleaner than it went out.Coed y BreninA quick blast round Brenig and Alwen reservoirs – often overlooked round here as there’s minimal (no) gnar, but taken at speed it’s a pretty thrash round some large bits of water (rather than through it).Alwen reservoirLlyn BrenigPaul also picked a couple of outliers – he made the trip from Bala to Nant yr Arian, which he seemed to enjoy and also took a spin along the Llangollen Canal to Chirk, taking in the World Heritage site of the Pontcysyllte Aquaduct. He topped off his week here with a rip round Cannock Chase on the way home to Essex.Aberystwyth mist and bikemonkey trail cannock chaseSo in spite of my useless advice and the crap weather Paul still crammed well over 150 miles of offroad riding into his six days here. Not bad. The experiment in all year round rideability is proving worthwhile.

Singletrack Epicentre

Jenny, Richard and Oscar the dog stayed with us in December 2015 after winning a weekend’s stay through the very nice people at Singletrack.  Jenny wrote a few words about her stay….

Trail dog

“The last time I won a competition was in 1989 when I won a pair of curtains for my composition entitled “Penguin with a hat on because he is cold” in the medium of Crayola. I was rather more impressed when my husband told me he had won a weekend break at Ty Beic just by virtue of being a Singletrack subscriber. The owners of the converted barns at Ty Beic are riders themselves and have designed the accommodation with riders in mind. There’s a secure bike store, bike wash, drying cupboard, laundry, a great shower, and cosy underfloor heating. Indeed, I had to prise the dog off the floor in the morning and practically drag him outside for his morning constitutional.

We started the weekend at Penmachno having read some great reviews about the trails. We hadn’t factored in Storm Desmond making an appearance which lead to some “challenging” conditions. The water was so deep on the trail that it was hard to tell what was a drop-off and what was just a small puddle until you piled into it (piled in being a common theme of the day). I’m lead to believe the final descent is a really fast, whoopy, chute; however Desmond was blowing a 67mph head wind at us which meant pedalling flat out downhill just to prevent being blown back up the hill. The two 30ft trees that had been blown down on to the track should have been a warning to us but we carried on regardless. Back at the accommodation we settled down with a locally brewed beer from the craft beer shop in Bala, and an enormous steak cooked in the well equipped kitchen in the barn. After dinner (and with another one of those craft beers) we used the handy guide the owners have made to plan our ride for the next day.

Ty Beic is situated in the singletrack epicentre: less than 45mins from Coed Llandegla, Penmachno, Coed y Brenin, The Marin Trail and Antur Stiniog. I am strongly motivated by cake and so Llandegla is one of my favourite trail centres on account of the superior quality – and portion size – of the cake. Luckily my husband knows what’s good for him and agreed to go there (happy wife, happy life). Desmond had moved on to ravage the Highlands of Scotland by this point so we were left with distinctly better conditions. Llandegla never fails to disappoint [sic] and we had an enjoyable blast around the trail before I got to tuck into a large slice of the good stuff.

We will definitely be back, and with friends next time – both converted barns can be rented together for a discount. I’m going to admit defeat and pack away the Crayola and leave my husband to the competition entries from now on.”

mountain biking

shorts were a bad idea

This article originally appeared on singletrackworld. Words and pics courtesy of Jenny.  Craft beers courtesy of Stori.  Mud and gales courtesy of Desmond.