The Dyfi Forest behind Isfryn is basically mountain bike heaven, home to some of the best but least-known singletrack in the UK; and I’ve recently decided it was time to start properly exploring the trails in the area.
The last 2 years have been pretty full for me, with a very big pile of DIY, followed by a year of cancer diagnosis and then treatment. After all that I decided that it was high time to enjoy myself a bit more. So I’ve bought myself a shiny new full-susser (my previous well-worn mountain bike having done 12 years of loyal service) and I’ve been exploring the local trails. Here’s a brief summary of some of what I’ve found so far…
First up, the forest has been home to a series of top-notch biking events, including a series of mountain biking Enduros (we marshalled at the last one – very humbling!), and the hugely popular Dyfi Enduro (around 1000 riders last year). It’s also home to the 1st family of UK mountain biking, the Athertons, who have built many of the local trails. Within a few miles the Red Bull Hardline event is held, and also the Athertons’ latest project, Bike Park Dyfi.
With all this going on, it shouldn’t be surprising that there are a lot of good bike trails here, but perhaps the surprise is that many of the routes are hardly known beyond a fairly small group of locals. Now I’m trying to break into that select band with the aid of some local knowledge and a whole lot of exploring. I’m loving it! To get a bit of a flavour of what there is in the area, have a look at this video.
First to mention is the route that is relatively well known – The ClimachX trail. The final section (“No. 8”) in particular is brilliant and one of the longest descents in Wales. It’s about red standard though there are options to make it harder. I last rode it just after it snowed, and what a great day out that was:
Rob (cheers mate!) introduced me to my 1st two local trails: ‘Crash Alley‘, and World Cup. Crash Alley is a short link between 2 fire roads that introduces you to 2 aspects of Dyfi Riding – loamy, rutted forest trails and steep, slate bedrock. It starts with a gentle and fairly straightforward climb through the woods before briefly steepening to something that I’m not fit enough or competent enough to ride. At the top turn your suspension to soft, drop your saddle and prepare for some steep and very rocky descent – I’m yet to do this clean. If you found this easy (I didn’t) you’re ready for World Cup – one of the best bits of singletrack in the forest. It starts pretty gently on flowing singletrack with the odd optional jump (yikes!) before plummeting straight down a broad ridge at a frankly ludicrous angle on rather slippery slate bedrock.
Since then I’ve discovered plenty more trails, some as hard or harder but plenty, thankfully, are possible for unfit, cowardly mortals like me. Certainly there are hours of riding at around red standard to be found and I suspect I’ve found less than half of what’s out there so far. Things move fast too, so only last night I was working on a new trail with a neighbour, Rhys on a new trail for next June’s Enduro event. You can check out some (but not all, yet) of the local trails on Trailforks.
Finally, riding over the late autumn and winter I’ve also identified another other special aspects of Dyfi riding: You can expect to get your feet wet! Dyfi puddles form on the bedrock and don’t drain. There is good news though, in that almost all, including some scary monsters 30ft long (and 2ft deep in winter), are rideable due to that rocky base.
Here’s Rob, again, demonstrating on one of the few flat parts of Stegosaurus.