What a great weekend that was. Popped a couple of MTB related cherries and the whole trip couldn’t have gone any smoother – for most of us anyway!
The plan started about 3 months ago after a group of friends returned buzzing from Llandegla trail centre wanting to return as soon as possible. I hadn’t been able to make the trip having only just been on a 5 day Snowdonia stay and another weekend away from family duties was deemed against the rules! So we planned another visit to Llandegla, the only Welsh trail centre I hadn’t visited, and I had my wicked way with the proceedings and included a mountain ride in Shropshire for the Sunday.
Both days we rode around 29km and climbed approx 750m – but how different they were!
So here is a tail of two trails….
During the few weeks before the trip we had 2 rear shocks needed last minute servicing, broken spokes and a cracked swing arm. 4 bikes were going to be at risk of either being left behind or some last minute LBS visits. There was in the end only one casualty, but thanks to a close group of riders a spare bike was slotted in at the last minute for the journey up the M5, A5 and some other little roads that eventually led us to the Coed Llandegla trail centre.
Why doesn’t Llandegla’s trail have a name? All Welsh trails have names! I know there’s only one trail here but a name would be nice, or at least a name for each section. I like trails with names! #RantOver
I really enjoyed Llandegla. I had heard mixed reviews from different friends but I enjoyed it loads. On paper its not really my bag – it a very flowy trail with very few technical obstacles. Even the Black options were tame by other trail standards – however this didn’t make it an easy ride.
In this instance I think the Black grading refers to your fitness level rather than skill – its fair to say (especially after a loop back to do a missed section) we were knackered by the end.
As well as a few bruises (none mine!) the ride claimed a rear brake and we found out later free hub too.
The cafe served up some great food but we had a date with Church Stretton so needed to get a shifty on.
After leaving the cafe we set off for Church Stretton in Shropshire. I had planned a mountain ride for day 2 of our weekend but first we had to make our way to the Al Stretton BunkHouse and find some food and beer for the night!
At this point I’d like to recommend the Jaipur Lounge in Church Stretton if you like your food of the Indian variety!
With a little help from a friend, I had a route planned (well printed at least)… We did head off up the first descent before I realised I was following my “figure 8” slightly wrong! It actually worked out really well and we ended up with getting a huge climb out of the way early on and had two fantastic descents.
I am going to do a separate post on the Long Mynd ride as I think it deserves some time and dedicated words – suffice to say we had a cracking day out and can’t wait to go back and ride some more.
What was the point in that title?
As I mentioned above both rides were almost identical in terms of distance and elevation but felt completely different.
I enjoy trail centres, the almost mindless following of arrows and making your way around is a satisfying way to get some exercise and some relatively cheap MTB thrills. Of course trail centres vary – some being harder work than others.
But I much prefer a mountain ride. Not an XC ride. A mountain ride – with big climbs and thrilling descents. Great views, the potential to get lost, the freedom to change your plan, or have your plan changed for you by the elements. Nothing beats it for me and the Long Mynd was no exception.
Big climbs feel tough at the time but get one in the bag and you have time to recover and enjoy long flowing singletrack or open hill top views. Llandegla kept us working and the descents only seemed to last for seconds rather than minutes and kilometers out on the Shropshire hills.
Again, what was the point of the title? I am not sure really, but we had two days that on Strava looked very similar (distance/climbing) but were very different.
One was exhausting and exhilarating and threaded us through miles of Welsh woodland. The other was not quite as exhausting, presented us with beautiful views and delivered 2 descents that were more fun than the trail builders could build at Llandegla.
Which ride would I rather do again? Long Mynd
Llandegla deserves another visit also but Long Mynd is something special and we have lots more to explore.