Penmachno trail Betws y Coed

After two days back to back riding at Coed-y-Brenin we decided to head over to Betws-y-Coed for a morning’s riding, we had heard about the Penmachno trail and wanted to check it out.

The Penmachno is graded red, 22km distance with 600m of climbing, compared to the Beast of Brenin we had ridden the day before it sounded just the ticket.

Panmachno is a bit off the beaten track, we punched Betws-y-Coed into the satnav and off we went, as we approached a tiny Welsh village one of the eagle eyed amongst us spotted a car with bikes on the roof going the other way. A quick 360 found us in the trail centre car park, miles away from Betws-y-Coed but very much in the right place.

Now when I say trail centre, do not expect the usual wooden lodge, café, showers etc. In fact do not expect anything as that is what you will get, there is a sign, an honesty box and a car park – that is it.

We had no maps of the trail with us, but again one of the quick thinking bunch that we were with whipped out his Blackberry Hutchison Iphone 3g slab of silicon loveliness and  took a hi-res picture of the sign map and we just used that, worked perfectly.

Out of the car park and upwards and upwards and once more up, pretty much fireroad all the way but we were all feeling the 3,500  metres of climbing we still had in our legs from the previous two days, still we were riding gods weren’t we??

Not!

The first descent showed how tired we really were, sketchy lines were the order of the day with desperate attempts to scrub off speed, poor landings and the use of trail side boulders to ping ourselves back on course. The trail itself is a cracking little trail, much narrower than we are used to with very small margins for error, with a really natural, flowey feel.

Not sure this is Penmachno, but is up a mountain in Wales on the same trip and it pretty much all looks like this - fantastic

With a bit of singletrack under our belt and backing off a little speed due to the fatigue and dodgy lines we got on with the ride. The trail climbs mostly on fireroad and certainly kicks up in places right up to a very exposed ridge that takes you across the exposed mountain face on what I guess is an old sheep track. I don’t know if the day we road it was typical, but we had a howling wind right in our faces which meant even pedaling downhill was hard work. The views were spectacular though, can’t imagine what it would be like in January though, but then we are soft Southern xc jeyboys so what do we know eh?

With “windy ridge” out the way the descent began with some really fast rolling singletrack taking us pretty much all the way down, by now our “trail eyes” had woken up and our reaction times improved meaning we quickly gathered that grin inducing speed that we all love.

Honesty box, make sure you use it or trail pixies will find you and bring bad Karma

All too soon we were back down in the car park, which was now full, showing just how popular this peachy little trail is. We dropped a few coins each in the honesty box, which contributes to the upkeep and improvement of the trails, piled back into the truck and headed back off down to that London.

As Arnie says “we’ll be back”.

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