The car park was nearly empty but at the first gate there was a small group sorting themselves out for the climb up. Four young guys with young legs was not my preferred choice of pursuers for my first time up a strange climb but perhaps their lightweight bikes might slow them up a little.
I dropped them quickly as the Welsh hills can be a little rougher up hill than you might expect. It took around an hour to get to the top and I carried on to Windy Point missing the start of the Black run.
The north shore downhill sections were an unknown to me but felt tight on a large bike on three of the corners. Gravity assisting, it is easy to gather speed and if you hit the middle yump at full speed it is possible to fire yourself off the track completely like a human cannonball.
Three of us repeated the White’s with approximately fifty other riders in various size groups changing order several times on the way up. It takes a lot longer when it is busy but most people were courteous and gave way if you were faster.
At the top some young lads had a different approach to us as they watched us pad up to start the Black Run. Pads of any form were completely unnecessary and perhaps they spoiled the look of jeans, trainers, no shirts and tattoos. With a short smoke break they were going to carry on regardless.
There are different approaches that you can take to a freeride section. One of them is prudent but less fun and the other one is more exciting and includes trees. Thankfully injury free we continued the run back to the base.
The climb up is hard and a good hour even if you are quite fit. All of the singletrack contains some tricky sections with some sections worn, loose and rocky. Leg and elbow pads are recommended even on the uphill climb unless you are being very careful. All of it is rideable with many of the rock sets rollable if you cannot jump but not all of them so look before you leap. Some of the sections are much longer than you might think and can be tiring on hands and wrists. It drains well but there can be puddles deep enough to get your feet wet even in July.
Some riders were in lycra on lightweight hardtails but others were on downhill bikes with body armour. I rode a Nomad with a 36 fork and used all of its travel frequently on the downhill sections. Poorly serviced or unsuitable bikes struggled on the first uphill with some riders returning to the shop at the bottom early on for repairs.
It is graded red/difficult and is more suitable for intermediate riders and above. I would have some concerns about trying to go round with a group of less experienced riders. Overall it is a good trail that will take less than two hours unless really busy and suits those of us who like the hills…