With an early start from our overnight stay near Wrexham we were at Llandegla and ready to roll by 9.30 on Saturday morning.
With the promise of a sunny day in mid November, the car park was reasonably full, but we seldom saw other riders except when hanging around at the start of sections. Our group was split between repeat visitors Tony and D’Andy and first timers Matt and myself – we found it all very much rideable on sight but the experience certainly helped with navigation.
First stop was to check out the things-you-only-get-at-trail-centres in the shape of the skills area and pump track. There is a very interesting boardwalk run (chicken-wire covered, as with the rest of the site, so it’s always rideable) with a tight corkscrew section.
I should have asked exactly what Tony meant by “corkscrew”, as it was pretty surprising when I got there – it turns out you can not only brake in the middle of it but also dab if it seems to help! After this I took the only fall of the morning by trying to power up the hill with my back wheel on what was actually a sawn off fence post – nothing broken except my front mudguard.
We set off on the red trail proper in bright sunshine with clear views on the long climb to the high point of the centre. At this point in a ride a long gentle climb is fine, and what looks a long way on the map was hardly any effort as we gradually warmed up and gained height. When the trail narrows to singletrack and you start to descend and contour you really know that it was worth the journey – from open moor into the woods it is really excellent riding.
After departing the red for the black extension D’Andy had the only puncture of the weekend, with the power of Strava telling me it took 13 minutes to fix!
The black sections continued the good fun whilst not appearing particularly dangerous. There are a few rather steep climbs to get back to the level of the red which tend to stick in the memory at this point in the ride. We continued with a turn on the jump gully (at least half good according to our most Jedi’d D’Andy) before continuing onto the B-line.
The drop onto the boardwalk here looks worse than it is and the section continues into a very tidy run of tabletops. Contrary to the trail map the red passes to the north of the reservoir and back to the carpark.
At the final reckoning we had ridden about 22km with roughly 600m of ascent in 3 hours including stops – an excellent mornings riding. I felt fine on my hardtail, it was also quite forgiving of Surrey tyres – I don’t think Matt or Tony had too many worries with their MudXs on the artificial armoured trail.