August 23, 2011
We woke up day 5 refreshed, a little sore, and ready for another day of insane mountain biking. My arms were still numb from the amount of rocks and gnarly trails I went over at Penmachno, so during breakfast, we reviewed trails in the area to determine which would be more likely to keep my arms in their sockets.
One thing I LOVE about Wales is their English breakfast. We each had a full English breakfast at the hotel which included fried egg, beans, ham and sausage topped out with some toast and jam. It is a perfect breakfast to get you started on your day. After reading through the articles and talking about what we felt like doing, we landed on Llandegla (pronounced “clan-deg-la”).
If you are wondering if this was a solid choice or not, just check out this video below:
We packed up the bikes…tricky since there were four of us, four bikes and one Volvo wagon…and left for Betws-y-Coed to try and find a new gear for my bike. I had two challenges the day before at Penmachno: 1) there was a lot of hill climbing and I was on a single-speed with a harder gear ratio and 2) Penmachno is a RAD place to ride but has a LOT of rocks for riding a rigid bike. We drove out to Betws-y-Coed again (the mountain town in the area of Snowdonia that is a hub for biking and hiking). I figured there had to be at least one store that would have a new gear for my bike. No luck. We walked to five different shops and left empty handed each time.
We did get distracted in a pretty cool shop called Planet Fear. They had a lot of quality climbing and bike gear. We got lost in their for a while, then felt hungry so we went in search of our travel mates and found them at The Stable Restaurant. Not as fancy as the website makes it out to be, this is a lively family place with free wi-fi where my affinity for English scones with jam and cream became a full on obsession.
Back on our agenda, we headed out to Llandegla. Llandegla is one of several privately owned mountain bike centers in Wales that has teamed up with the government forestry service to provide an awesome place for biking while also doing planned forestry harvest. Llandegla opened in 2005 and now sees over 250,000 visitors per year. The tracks are flowy, fast and fun. It’s incredibly well maintained, well marked and the coffee shop/bike shop at the base is a nice perk.
While we were setting up bikes it started to rain but thankfully cleared up once the bikes were out of the car and built up. Llandegla is fun. A lot of fun. There is a lot of tree farming in midst of trails but doesn’t take away from your experience of being out in the wilderness. Contrary to our thoughts from the magazine pictures, Llandegla has a good amount of climbing which I found difficult on single speed in my gear. It didn’t matter. Llandegla has flowy, loopy single track that you whoop and holler on. The trail people warned us that the black lines were the hardest but we popped onto those and found that the black lines were not that hard at all.
We followed red line around and looped into black lines including JJ’s jumps (SUPER FUN!) and the BMX pump track. Then, more climbing and lots of climbing. We rode maybe 20k but my legs were spent. Back down at the base, we dismantled our bikes, re-packed them (we’re getting good at that!) and drove back towards the hotel.
We were starving and went in search of a place to eat. Most everywhere served beer but no dinner. This is very typical of Wales. Especially after 7pm. We stopped in 3 locations. Still no food.
Finally, we asked one of the pubs to tell us where we could eat and ended up at The Silver Fountain right outside Betws-y-Coed. We had the dinner special of vegetable curry and beer. Spicy, hot, and tasty, it’s exactly what I needed after a fantastic day of biking.