The Mach 3 is a
19 mile cross country ride with great views building up to a killer
distance 30.6K (19 miles)
Grid references and map links from: OS Leisure 23 Cadair
Idris & Bala Lake/Llyn Tegid.
To open map link click on 'show'. To change to OS map select
halfway between + and - on map size selector.
To open map link click on
'show'. To change to OS map select halfway between + and -
on map size selector.
1. 745 007 show
Start at Machynlleth
2. 777 982 show
Fork right on to doubletrack.
3. 781 960 show
Left on to singletrack.
4. 768 915 show
Grassy Moor trail.
5. 770 947 show
Top of 'The Chute'
6. 746 986 show
Joins road at Glanmeryn
7. 740 003 show
Join A487T South of Machynlleth
nearby Dyfi Forest
lies a scant 20 miles from Coed y Brenin and is an old market town, spectacularly endowed with quality caf's and an excellent bike shop in the form of Greenstiles Cycles. Situated in the centre of the town near the clock tower, Greenstiles has become the hub of a network of superb way-marked mountain bike trails. We set off on the
Mach 3, the longest and toughest of these on a warm and showery day in the late summer. We got to know Andy our guide for the day and local bike mechanic as we warmed up on the tarmac heading South out of town. Ever seen the start to the channel 5 series 'Hercules'? 'when the gods were petty and cruel'' The Rain and Sun God were having a real belly laugh at us that day. As we began the climb in earnest the sun popped out and up went the mercury. Cresting the first grassy hill the sign points left over the grass and I could have killed for a sun shade; a sun lounger and an iced drink wouldn't have hurt either.
As soon as the trail looked like heading downward a watery behemoth would slide silently over the sun and chilling drops of drizzle would patter on our misted plastic glasses. 'Don't forget to tell me when the downhill's coming so I can turn on the helmet camera' I cautioned for the first of many times. But it was a case of 'rain stopped play' as we slithered down a grassy forest singletrack in all kinds of trouble. I managed a sad tumble on a tight left hander, hurting only my pride and leaving a mountain biker shaped imprint in the wet turf. The lads later referred to this (at length) as 'The place where Gareth fell off' as if you could give directions by it. The sun came out again (Ha Ha') to herald the beginning of a climb which would seem long even to Lance Armstrong and Co. This is part of the
Mach 3 plan however, if you don't like riding a bike up mountains, you're on the wrong trail out here.
The weather gods had been busy for a week at least before we arrived, some of the puddles on the route could have doubled as boating lakes and challenged a Landrover with a raised exhaust pipe. I'm also confident the Welsh words for 'trail' and 'stream' are similar, there was certainly an identity crisis in the chosen route of the day. Turning right and through a small hill farm outpost, leads on in to a region which feels as remote as any in Wales. With no roads in site and no buildings to speak of, surrounded by grassy peaks it's reminiscent of the remote Black Mountains. We love this sort of place. A slog up a peaty trail, rideable if you can find the energy, leads to a second grassy climb then on to a double track with fabulous views across a steep sided valley, to a spectacular waterfall. We stopped to take some photographs and shot past Lenseman who snapped away happily. Then we shot off down a slightly dodgy rutted slate doubletrack and waited round the corner for our photo-buddy. We waited too long then shot back up the same trail to find Lenseman nursing a headache after some serious trail denting. A big hole in the trail here was the culprit, worth watching out for when you go. As soon as The Lens could walk in a straight line and recite his 'F' stops we set off for the top of the soon to be infamous 'Chute'.
A gate guards the top of this solid welsh slate forest road. We were running short of brake pad rubber but determined to get some good video footage in the can. Fools that we are we let go the brakes and attacked the first left hand bend. Off camber wet slate provides little grip so drifting off to the side was a dead cert. Crashing through low branches I made it round the first two bends but found it impossible to slow down. Increased braking caused wild sliding, crashing on the slate at speed was unthinkable. I decided to hang on and just ride the loose rock field ahead, rain soaked branches made vision and video blur which was good. I couldn't see the sharp rocks I might land on' Eventually I hauled the bike to a standstill just in time to video our gallant guide Andy plunging down a huge hole by a fallen tree. We were all so stoked up we just garbled on at each other whilst Andy got up and appeared remarkably unscathed.
> Page 2
The Chute Video
in text only form.