Coed Y Brenin, the first official mountain bike trail centre in the UK and really where everything started. It’s time to make your pilgrimage!
I’ve been here a few times, but never ridden the same trail twice. There is a lot here, and a lot of it is very, very good. Ahead of my Tour Of Cambridgeshire race in June and well into my training, I felt pretty good and decided to tackle the Beast at Coed Y Brenin with my good friend Jack. The Beast, the only true black at Coed Y Brenin is circa 30km long with over a kilometre of climbing – read up on the trail here.
The trail head at Y Brenin is one of the best in the country. Lots of tarmac parking in and around the hillside, a big trail head with bike shop and all important café. It’s nestled in at the bottom of the valley with the trails heading up either side. You could almost say it was like a Welsh ski town…
The trails at Coed Y Brenin are rocky. I’ve ridden both a hardtail round here and a full susser. You’ll want the latter for comfort first, but to then avoid almost constant puncturing. They also take you right from the valley bottom to the mountain top and then pay you back handsomely. If you’ve ridden a Welsh trail centre, just imagine that just scaled up.
The Beast trail reminds me of my Mini Enduro I did at the Forest of Dean. There’s nowhere to hide here as you’ve got big long relentless climbs that’ll quickly show you up if you haven’t been on the bike regularly and then equally big descents, which again will show you up quickly if you can’t handle fast, rocky and exposed descents.
Assuming you can do all of this however, and you’ve got yourself a 30km Enduro stage. The trail in parts is well used, as the Red’s weave in and out, but overall the trails on the Beast still retain a sense of the natural. There are still rocks which are not well placed and will throw you off if you’re not careful. Quite a lot also isn’t bermed so you actual corner technique will also be pulled in to help. Saying all this though, once you get into the flow of things, the trails just flows superbly. Yes its rocky, but it’s always fast and challenging but never dangerous. You come down from every long descent questioning why not more people are on this and how do I get back to the top to ride that event harder!
There is an issue though. Sign posting. Coed Y Brenin is a BIG trail centre, part of why it feels more natural than man made, however the signposting of trails is terrible. We found we cut off half of the Beast without even realising. Not a problem as we simply did the first section again. It’s that good. However you’ll need to bring your Duke of Edenborough brain with you, to ensure you stay on track as sign posting is not a strong point of this trail centre.
So with all this in mind, Jack and I must head back again later this year, to see what the second half of the Beast is like. Join us, if you like.