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Around Cadair Idris : Article  Page 1

Since we visited Erw-Goed it Tony has moved on and sadly it has now closed. We're keeping this feature for the pictures and story of a ride in this truly wonderful area. It's still worth a read.

Don't go to Dolgellau. Well, to be more precise, don't go through it on the way to Arthog. This was our first mistake of the morning, one wrong turn and we were up a hotel drive with a couple of other directionally challenged drivers straight after us. We all reversed halfway through the village and finally found the road to Fairbourne and the gated track that leads to the idyllic Erw-Goed (say eroo go ed) farm B&B. We were soon greeted by the owner and our guide for the day Tony and his two soft-as-a-brush dogs.

Excellent, time for a late breakfast of toast (home made bread) and Seville orange marmalade (home made again). Toast and marmalade will never be the same again. Tony admitted that the butter wasn't home made and I almost choked on my second slice. I made sure he understood he was clearly letting the side down and he promised he'd be churning his own again before any MTB Britain readers arrived. After breakfast we set up the bikes and soon discovered another flaw in our cunning plan, Tony's rear derailleur cable was split. Using all our combined skills his bike was as good as new in only a couple of hours.... then before we set off Tony found his waterproof had been borrowed by his daughter to go out on her bike. Having no others between us we finally set off without one, confident of a mild and perhaps dry day (can you see the flaw in this already?.....) 

We rode back up the drive, then right and left to a toast and marmalade churning tarmac climb through the wood. Here began my schooling in the apparently simple and straight-forward Welsh place name pronunciation, Ha! After I almost pulled a muscle in my tongue botching the first couple, I fought back with Latin medical phrases that stumped the lot of them.

As we crested the top of the road the view of the Estuary opened up and we could see the sea at Fairbourne. A few seconds later we cycled in to the clouds and were having trouble seeing each other. The road flattens on to the moor top and then over a short pitch to the gorgeous Llynnau Gregennen lake. A bit more road and we went through the first of many gates on to an old Welsh road. More climbing here dispelled any doubts over the fitness of Pauline and Tony, who obviously have more miles under their belts than Marco Pantani, if not his resting heart rate. A downhill leads to a long but easy climb which apparently has fabulous views on a clear day.

For reasons best known to history rather than common sense the next section becomes a bridleway half way along, so pushing on the footpath it is. After just over half a mile of this it's bums on saddles for a right turn on to a rutted double track. The views in to the steep valley here are awesome as you race along under the 300 foot letter D, oh sorry that's on the map (Outdoor Leisure 23, as part of SNOWDONIA NATIONAL PARK) A short rough section leads on to a rocky doubletrack and some serious speed just as the weather decided to get serious and kick some mountain biker butt. The hail came horizontally from right to left and I kept my right eye closed at implausible speed. I once read a tip that you can use your nose to shield one eye from rain or hail if it's crossing the trail, this seemed to actually work. Certainly I couldn't see out of my right eye. After a short stop to wait for the jacket free and hypothermic Tony we raced on again towards some sensational switchbacks. > Page 2

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