Day one in Wales and after a visit to the beach and in a race against the weather forecast (40-50mph winds and rain) we decided to follow a route that Dan had seen in a MTB magazine. It looked fairly straight forward on paper even if there were quite a lot of tightly packed contour lines.
The ride started up a nice smooth lane/bridle path; unfortunately it started steep and got steeper until at the very top the road turned and entered a caravan site, Here things went a little awry. Our map showed a route through the site but both the lady on the caravan site and an old chap in a house on the same road insisted that the trail went through a gate and into the woods. Not wanting the hassle of arguing the point (and the woods did look more interesting) we took their advice. This is where things went a bit wrong. In the woods there was a plethora of trails and reading the instructions from the magazine it was very easy to fit the conditions on the ground to the directions on the page. Unfortunately it was easy to fit about 5 trails to the instructions and in the usual way men do we fitted the best looking trail to the directions and went for it.
The wooded area was great, quite technical in places with a few stiff climbs and after a few back tracks we crossed a bridge and were out in the much more open moor land. The conditions here were much different, wet grass with a greasey layer of mud underneath. Add this to the much steeper gradient and I was bemoaning the lack of a fatbike and the grip they offer. The almost semi slick tyre (honeybadger) on the back of my bike didn’t help either, it was even slipping on the few flat bits of the route, just a slight off camber bit would have the rear wheel step out sideways and I had no confidence it it at all.
We continued on and the further we went the less the route resembled the map. With no desire to continue on aimlessly and the fact we could see the next weather front coming in we took the decision to retrace our route. This did mean we could ride the very fast downhill technical trail back to the start point.
So, not a complete success but still a lot of fun and we celebrated/commiserated with the hugest slabs of cake in Wales at a local café!