Monday, 30 May 2011

Marvelous Marin

Wales, Bank Holiday weekend; It's wet and it's windy. I'm camped in one of my favorite campsites, it's nestled below Tryfan that great Stegosaurus of a hill and I'ts got quite a hardcore feel to it.  You know when on average peoples tents are worth more than their cars your with folk who have their priorities right! Half the tents are Quasars, there is even another Quasar ETC and that never happens; useful though it gusted 50 last night.

What I'm here for is the Marin Trail a 25km mountain biking route in the woods above Betws Y Coed. UK Trail centres and man made trails pretty much started in North Wales (I think) with arguably their spiritual home at  Coed Y Brennin a few miles further south. I have ridden there a number of time but never explored the other trails in the area. The Marin comes highly recommended from a number of friends. 

The wet weather had made the roots and rocks of the trail a bit slippy and there are a couple of disconcerting wheel slides in the first Km until I get the hang of it and back off the agression a bit. The climbs are almost all on fire roads and at a reassonable gradient that a reasonably fit rider should be able to get up them all without need for a rest. 

Single track sections are mixed and varied somtimes in woodland, sometimes cutting down open hill sides or along ridges, they are never too steep and technical and there are no big drop offs and very few really sharp turns. There is a single section up out a ravine that is un-ride-able  however good you are (it's (up) stairs). 

MTB trails are graded as for ski runs green (easy), blue, red, and black (very hard). The Marin is a red or difficult; probably true but I think it's an excellent entry level red at no point asking too much of someone stepping up for the first time. Importantly it never really surprises you by suddenly throwing you a hard section without warning. I rode the whole thing only needing two dabs from my feet to stabilise myself and these were mainly from carelessness. I can't say that about any of the other of reds I've ridden.

The trail is well marked with blue way-markers and frequent maps telling you where on the circuit you are. The forest is littered with old mine workings from early last century, gaunt ruins of buildings, adits and fenced off shafts. One hundred years later the hills resound not to the blow of the pick-axe and the blast of dynamite but the screech of tires and the wail of brakes.

My legs really feel the last few km, even on downhill sections. You forget how much energy you can expend on decent, sections of power riding, the constant adjustment of weight about the bike, adrenaline does a good job of keeping fatigue at bay. Another corner, another call for power; protesting my legs respond, but they let me know their not happy about it. 

Then I'm down and into the car park; drenched, coated in mud, knackered, but happy. Now did I remember a change of clothes?


Summary: Excellent half day trail, well made and well signposted. Much shorter and slightly less technical than my usually haunt at Dalby. Less technical and more natural feeling than the classics at Coed Y Brennin.

Trail length: 25 Km
Grade: Red (Difficult; for proficient mountain bikers and quality mountain bikes)
Climb: 450m
Time 2-4hours (I did it in 2.5 but did not really stop much)
Parking: Free, Nr. Lanwurst
PDF Guide: Here

1 comment:

  1. I was in Leicester Uni Climbing Club in 1990! did you do the trip to Froggat edge?