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Afan Adventures Mountain Bike Uplift

The MTB Britain crew take a well earned break from pedaling at Glyncorrwg and Afan in South Wales. 

Cost 25 per person per day, or: 5 per uplift shuttle run.

How would you like to descend all day on some of the best trails in Wales? You can cover two to three times as much descending in one day with Afan Adventures Uplift service. This is a good thing!

The centre of everything
We met up with Geraint on a sunny Saturday morning in January with the car park at Glyncorrwg already filling up, this place is popular. The Dropoff Cafe at Glyncorrwg is fantastic, in a league of it's own and that's just the food. We soon hooked up with Ian Luff who manages the Dropoff and he dropped everything at a moments notice to come and ride with us, this guy loves to ride. We swiftly hitched the bikes on to the 'Afan Adventures' Landrover bike rack (It takes seven bikes) and jumped in to be chauffeured to the top of the first descent.

All of the superb local downhills can be reached via the uplift and Geraint soon had us unpacking at the top of the Skyline's final downhill. This was too sweet, I hardly know what it's like to head off downhill without tired legs and to say that it rocks is under selling it. Geraint had the weather booked too (clever) and as you'll see in the video it was literally blinding.

Brain damage
Now came a downright scary chase trying to keep up with Ian and Paul on the slippery wet trails. They were flying and I was hard pushed to stay with them, Ian knows the singletrack like the back of his hand and Paul was born without the necessary fear centres in his cerebral cortex. This made it relatively easy for him to keep up with the flying Dropoff manager even on his home turf.

By the time we reached halfway down I was only a turn or so behind but my ego was feeling battered. The relentless pace continued as we flew over humps and scratched around hairpins. On the final section I got my first chance to really appreciate the bedrock jumps, whereas last time I had been grateful to finish at the end of a grueling days biking. At the bottom Geraint was waiting for us and we were off for a run down 'The Wall'. On the way up we couldn't miss the steep banking and turns of the new Black Run carved from the hillside. Wahay (we said intelligently) give us some of that! Ever the obliging, Geraint powered us up and we were soon flying along the slippery looking boardwalk at the top of the (not quite finished) new run: video.

Be afraid, be a little bit afraid
There is a sign which fairly enough warns you to inspect the course before riding it, we didn't but it's not really that bad. Still, I wasn't about to hit it at a speed that was too fast to slow from, if they threw anything really dangerous at us. Beginning as a boardwalk and continuing on crushed stone with small table tops and doubles this new trail is a buzz.

It's the end of this first section (more is planned) where things start to get really interesting with huge banked turns and a steep drop studded with rock drop-offs. Two final wall-like banked turns brought us panting back on to the fire road. XC boys and girls be warned, hitting this at full pelt could be bad for your bike!

The Darkness
Soon it was time for lunch and what a lunch it was. This place is worth visiting just for the big eats, which could previously only be said of Dolfrwynog at Coed y Brenin. Whilst we were stuffing ourselves Skyline Cycles fixed my slightly ailing rear brake which neded bleeding, superior quality service. After lunch which was literally huge we didn't suffer the usual pains associated with valley bottom cafe's, we jumped back in the Landy for another run and finally in the late afternoon we decided to hit the Penhydd trail. Making short work of the hideous climb in serene comfort we could see the sun on it's way down behind the mountain.

With Doug fixing a puncture by the time we reached the top of the Hidden Valley dusk was waning. Still even in the darkness of the woods it was possible to appreciate the silky flow down this by now classic 'old' trail. This is when I remembered there were a couple of climbs to do in the remainder of this loop, we'd have to pedal! Doug restrained himself from chucking me off a cliff admirably. We made great speed on the way down to Dead Sheep Gulley but as the moon rose (below) it was clear the game for us underlit types was over. We should have let Geraint drop us back to Skyline Cycles as they rent out lighting systems, clever chaps.

Call International Rescue
Of all the rides I have ever finished in the dark this one was the dimmest. The strong moonlight barely penetrated as it had dissappeared behind the mountain. We were riding by sense of smell out there. Finally we crossed the ford and flew at crazy speed down the final doubletrack, shouldn't we be able to see something going at warp factor three? Geraint was waiting patiently in the car park having restrained himself from calling mountain rescue, we didn't even have to pedal back to the car, bliss.

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