Considering that most MTB trips to South Wales take in the usual trail centres/bike parks and not the excellent natural & off-piste offerings that are numerous, I want to invite all those LFGSS off-roaders that fancy the real South Wales technical singletrack experience to come ride with me.
Planning on riding three different venues over the first May bank holiday weekend, Saturday to Monday. People can ride all three days or pick and choose individual days as they wish.
Provisional venues would be:
Day 1 - Gower XC coastal loop: starting in Clyne Valley we take the various doubletrack and singletrack trails taking in scenic places such as Pwll Du, Three Cliffs Bay, Nicolastan Woods, etc. Then back to Clyne Valley
Route will take in fireroads and doubletrack to get to the prime singletrack, which is the main aim.
If the weather is good expect a pretty epic XC venture. If the weather is not good expect a muddy epic XC adventure.
The following video gives an idea of scenery rather than the singletrack we'll actually be riding.
Day 2 - the Masts: intro to Welsh steep tech
The Masts, near Afan, is one of the oldest trail spots in South Wales. It pre-dates the Afan trail centre. Steep, challenging and ridiculously good locals started building here to make a training ground for Alpine trips. You'll see why when you ride it.
Expect a grind of a fireroad climb to get to the top, 30-40 minutes.
Expect steep, rocky, rooty, rutted descents.
Here a decent long, low and slack bike will help, preferably a full bouncer. You can get away with riding a hardtail but it will be harder work and less forgiving.
Here knee pads, elbow pads and even a full face helmet would be a good idea. Loads of locals ride open face, I'll leave helmet choice up to you.
I won't chuck people down any seriously steep trails without warning and we'll warm up on the least technical stuff first.
Here's one vid from local rider Mike Jones, now of the Mondraker downhill team. Jump to around 1:55 on the vid for the Masts which he calls "the best place he's ridden a trail bike" in his career:
Day 3: Tirpentwys, Pontypool.
This place is next gen grassroots trail building. There's no place quite like it in the Welsh valleys. The Tirpentwys trail crew have produced a gem of a location that keeps showing up in MTB industry promotion videos. There's a core of five or six steep bike park style sculpted runs with ridiculously fun berms and table top jumps. The work put in by a small core of a four or five builders is impressive. Around these core radical bike park runs are a network of steep, natural tech tracks so there is plenty of variety here.
Expect: Bike Park Wales style big sculpted berms, but steeper.
Also expect the choice of a steep as fuck push up or grinding road climb to get to the top.
Runs are short but high quality.
Bike choice as with the Masts previously. Elbow and knee pads for sure. Full face strongly recommended.
In case of heavy rain prior to the third day I may change the venue from Tirpentwys to Smilog, Llantrisant.
The trails being so sculpted at Tirpentwys can get ruined when ridden in the wet making much more work for the trail builders. Smilog will be muddy but they're natural trails.
I live in Swansea so will be staying home over these three days. I recommend staying in Swansea so that we can all set out together each day (I hear the Premier Inn lets you keep bikes in your room), but if people want to stay elsewhere I can supply Google Maps coordinates nearer the time of where to meet to ride all the things.
If anyone has any questions just let me know.
Those that come to the event and ride Tirpentwys I would urge you to donate to the Tirpentwys trail crew:
I try and make a donation each time I ride there. The work ethic of this crew is immense. Look at the photo of the main trails above.
One other thing, changing facilities, toilets and cafes are non-existent at the Masts and Tirpentwys. Make sure you prepare food before getting to the trails and take all other supplies you need.
At the start of the Gower XC loop there are no facilities but along the way we will pass cafes and shops, even pubs.
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