a brand new
trail in Wales near Machynlleth and would we like to be first to
ride and video it?" Does a mountain biker crash in the woods and jump
up in case anybody's watching? Tegid raises the bar with this taster
of what we'll be riding in the summer.
distance 12.5 miles:
Explorer 215 Newtown Y Drenewydd & Machynlleth. Ride starts
There is a car park at the trail head if you're too lazy to
ride from Machynlleth.
about the Dyfi Forest
nearby Mach3 Trail
Need a guide and/or top
quality instruction and accomodation? Tegid is your man! go
straight to Reditreks
web site and you're sorted.
We've ridden in the Dyfi before, on a mission to discover some of the most exciting doubletracks in the UK. They are there for sure: doubletracks where the only rideable line is a crazy zig-zag on the edge of sanity and falling is a razor edged no-no. Whooping over mis-shaped lumps of solid slate with shattered shards of the blue stuff whizzing past your ear, even Coed y Brenin's safety marked trails can start to look a little tame. If you want to discover the extreme (or mellow) trails, you'll need a good guide and the very best of guides are
Reditreks based in the heart of Machynlleth.
A forest of extremes the Dyfi has everything from the sublime to the almost ridiculous and beginners are as well served as us time served trail nutters. Tegid and his excellent team offer accommodation, skills training and guiding to all levels of rider. Think of it like a ski school and you wouldn't go out on the mountain without a couple of days of quality training with these guys.
Tegid was our guide once more this time for an (exclusive?) pre-ride of the brand spanking new singletrack which is due to open officially in the Spring or early Summer. We started in Machynlleth at Reditreks headquarters on a grey Winters day with barely enough light to run the helmet camera. A short trip along route 8 and across the river, then a mile
or two of country lanes is a nice warm up, something us die hard MTBB'ers are simply not used to!
The climbing begins in earnest here and hard packed forest road winds it's way fairly gently up to the first singletrack
section called Sidewinder which turns out to be mostly a traverse. This is one big hill and is reminiscent of The Wall or Gwydyr both of which start with a hefty height contribution. The brand new trails need time to harden off and patches of mud dulled the edges of singletrack, which will be sharp and swift in the Summer. Struggling with a cold I was finding it hard to keep up with the pack and I badly needed a full on downhill to cope with the mud and my own impending respiratory failure. No one can call us Southern softies, up a cold mountain in December. We stopped for a couple of minutes and I downed a Power Gel, what a life saver. Obviously I hadn't been eating enough as it tasted really good, this can only happen when your blood sugar is perilously low! (Strawberry and Banana flavour, on no account try the Lime one, you have been warned).
Swooping sections where the trail has cut down to the solid slate provided respite and injected fun back in to the vertically challenged trail. Multiple well constructed, whoops and easy jumps were beginning to bring a smile back to my face and the speeds increased on one longer section. Soon after this came the worst muddy trail of the loop,
'Where's my ball?', a long duck board bridged a fifty foot bog but the rest was claggy stuff. Power Gel coursing through my veins I made the climb then even nipped back to check on Tegid who had broken his chain powering through the gloop. No chance a veteran of Tegid's calibre would need a hand really and he had his bike going again in two minutes flat.
I'll Huff and I'll
A few moments later
Ted broke his chain as well! We fixed that (note: his Shimano chain wouldn't take a Sachs gold connector link which is a shame, don't forget your little black pins if you need them). These were the only mechanicals of the day but it shows why you need a decent chain splitter on that multi-tool. Tegid had been hinting that we would enjoy
'Tony the Tiger' (the final descent) and the anticipation was palpable as we switched on the helmet cam and admired the view over Corris and down the valley. Tegid and Paul shot off down the trail as I took my characteristic cack-footed five seconds to clip in and get moving. Usually that's not a problem but with the wide angle lens we use you have to ride rubber to rubber, or the rider ahead closely resembles a microscopic dot. After a few hundred yards of huffing and puffing like an asthmatic pensioner with some heavy shopping I wisely decided that trying to catch up with them was going to kill me.
So I waited a few seconds for Mark with whom I stood a minisculely better chance of keeping up. This turned out to be the case (well, almost) and is where the video starts from. As we shot off down this helter skelter, mud mania, magnificent trail the surprises came thick and fast. A bog is bridged by one alarmingly narrow plank followed by another scarily long one which we crossed in the blinking of an eye, not as hard as they look or so we say. The trail builders have pulled out all the stops with dips and jumps, launching pads and slabs and an extrordinary sudden left turn with a big drop, said to be shored up with the broken frames of unwary riders. A big wooden arrow has been hand carved and painted orange to alert those not paying attention, this did it for me although I saw it so briefly I recalled it as a weird fish sculpture! Which shows I was going too fast for the turn really. On and on the descent goes, pitching you forwards, upwards and often downwards but try and avoid sidewards, at least to the right where there's rather less ground to hit. It's in the latter half of the descent where the switchbacks begin that you start to see the genius in this trail building. Huge banked corners which must have taken an age to build from slate rock let you hit
All the fun of
them hard and ride high in the turn, sometimes getting dangerously close to the top. These turns are truly works of art and surely the future of hand built trails on steep slopes. Letting you carry much more speed and accelerating you automatically out of the bend, the feeling of 'flow' is maintained and the Achilles heel of artificial trails becomes more of it's fairground fun factor. At the bottom we roundly congratulated Tegid, Judith and the team on advancing the state of the art in trail building. Even with the muddy patches at this time of year this trail is certainly one of the best we've ever ridden. It's pioneering
bermed corners should become the blueprint for similar pitches across Wales and beyond. You don't have to wait until the official opening in the Spring to ride the trail as it's open now. You don't need us to tell you if you should make the trip, the die-hard Winter riders know who they are. For the rest wait until the official opening and the dry trail will quite simply blow your mind away, wherever you've been riding recently.
The Cli-machx trail is a community project that was fundraised (rather than the usual forest enterprise arrangement), and was built by EcoTrails (who were part of the team that built Nant yr Arian)
feature in text only form.
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