/ Mountain biking in Snowdonia with a total novice

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mkean - on 12 Sep 2013
I'm heading to North Wales this weekend and the weather is potentially looking a bit damp for climbing. Any good suggestions for somewhere I could take a total mountain biking novice who has a new bike to play with? We will be based in Capel Curig.

- I'm not too keen on a lot of tarmac bashing (I've got very knobbly tires and I also don't fancy getting run over).
- She has the sum total of 10 minutes of off-road cycling experience but is pretty fit (has an unhealthy interest in running).
- I'd rather the trails weren't too cheeky as quite frankly we probably won't be moving fast enough to escape from an enraged hill walker ;-)

A nice loop with some singletrack and some non-terrifying descents would be good although black runs and potential deathtraps will be filed away for the next trip ;-)

Thanks!

Tom Hutton - on 12 Sep 2013
In reply to mkean: I'd head for Coed y Brenin to start with to be honest... let her get some practice on something pretty civilised then perhaps try Gwdir Forest (Marin or other stuff) or even up on Conwy Mountain, after that. There's not a whole lot of good 'natural' stuff in this area and what there is is pretty tough.
Rigid Raider - on 12 Sep 2013
In reply to mkean:

Drive up to PYG and take her for a nice pootle along the track to Llyn Llydaw? That would be a nice place for a picnic.
sleavesley on 12 Sep 2013
In reply to mkean: beddlgelert forest is ok for a pootle around and is t too far away for you.
Pand - on 12 Sep 2013
In reply to mkean: The Marin trail at Llanwrst but just do more of the fire track.
Chris the Tall - on 12 Sep 2013
In reply to mkean:
If you get yourself a map of the area (or look at www.bikehike.co.uk) you'll find there are a good variety of BWs around Capel Curig - I remember riding a very easy track to the end of Ogwen many years ago on a fully rigid bike, so it can't have been hard.

If you go the other way you can ride along back roads for a couple of miles and then into the Gwydir(?) forest, where you can either follow fire roads or the Marin trail (a very easy but pretty boring red)

About 5 miles south of Betwys is Penmachno - a much better trail, though still fairly easy red
mkean - on 12 Sep 2013
In reply to Chris the Tall:
Hmm the Penmachno looks nice, are there any bits likely to cause a panic? (Drops and jumps without a chicken run, doubles and obstacles without much warning etc?)
Chris the Tall - on 12 Sep 2013
In reply to mkean:
3 or 4 years since I've ridden it, but seem to remember it flowed well and was pretty straightforward - no drops or jumps AFAICR, probably got round with only the odd dab. There might be bits where you think it's going to be tricky, but when you get to them it turns out to be OK, so the only problem is lack of confidence

First did it about 5 years ago, when I was not exactly inexperienced but a lot less keen and capable than I am now, and really enjoyed it.
quirky - on 12 Sep 2013
In reply to mkean: Penmancho is great but a narrow trail with not much room for error. Coed y Brenin is by far the best introduction as it has a great skills area next to the car park and many options for a novice on the trails. It is hard to judge how difficult a novice may find something that a competant cyclist finds easy..so best to take them on something they find easy to start with and build up from there!
jethro kiernan - on 12 Sep 2013
In reply to mkean: Coed a Brenin, its possible to dip your toes in some of the nice more technical single track and escape back to the Blue trails if your finding it to much the new skills area is good for getting an idea of what you can go at.
tlm - on 12 Sep 2013
In reply to mkean:

Has she ridden a bike much in general? How confident is she when riding a bike?

I remember the first time Duncan went mountain biking. I went down a big rocky drop and turned around expecting him to be sat at the top of it looking at me, but much to my chagrin, he was right behind me, grinning! But then he had ridden his bike on roads most days and was pretty confident and enjoys such things...
mkean - on 12 Sep 2013
In reply to tlm:
She cycles to work occasionally on tarmac cycle paths, she definitely isn't an experienced cyclist. I am a very lapsed xc rider not really having spent any time on the bike in about 5 years, although then I was perfectly capable of swearing my way down the odd bit of black graded stuff. I think we will probably try Coed y Brenin and see how that goes.
highclimber - on 13 Sep 2013
In reply to mkean: Beddgelert forest if they are completely novice, maybe CyB or fire roads at Marin if they are steady, definately not Penmachno. It's not particularly hard but is in the middle of nowhere.
ChrisJD on 13 Sep 2013
In reply to mkean:
> (In reply to Chris the Tall)
> Hmm the Penmachno looks nice, are there any bits likely to cause a panic? (Drops and jumps without a chicken run, doubles and obstacles without much warning etc?)


Like others have said, Penmachno not really for novices. CYB or Marin, as long as you give her a lesson in how to brake and descend!

If she is a good runner, she'll have a blast.
BazVee - on 13 Sep 2013
In reply to mkean:

Be careful at Coed Y Brenin I took my now wife there and reduced her to tears. From memory all routes (apart from Blue & Green) have the same technical (if you aren't a mtber) start. The blue and green routes would probably suit though
malky_c - on 13 Sep 2013
In reply to mkean: How much are you against some tarmac? There's a good circuit you can do from Capel - up to Llyn Cowlyd, cross over high moorland (on tarmac) to Trefriw, make your way back to Capel via Llyn Geirionydd (various off-road options available).

Depends on your preferences, but I'd much sooner do that than some tedious prepared trails.
malky_c - on 13 Sep 2013
In reply to malky_c: You could also head south from Betws across Sarn Helen, into the Lledr Valley, then find your way back through the woods via Llyn Elsi. Or the Cefn-glas track from Pont Cyfyng to Dolwyddelan.

A little further afield, you can do the Maesgwm circuit from Llanberis. Up Maesgwm, down the bottom section of the Snowdon Ranger, along to Waunfawr (on the road, unfortunately), then back through the Pen-y-bwlch quarries.
tlm - on 13 Sep 2013
In reply to mkean:
> (In reply to tlm)
> She cycles to work occasionally on tarmac cycle paths, she definitely isn't an experienced cyclist. I am a very lapsed xc rider not really having spent any time on the bike in about 5 years, although then I was perfectly capable of swearing my way down the odd bit of black graded stuff. I think we will probably try Coed y Brenin and see how that goes.

If I was you, I would go to the stuff around Betys-y-coed first. On the whole is is pretty, interesting, enjoyable, but not quite as technical as the stuff at Coed y Brenin. Most of the routes at Coed y Brenin have got some rocky downhill stuff which is only really fun if you are feeling confident.

Another thought that I had, depending on how confident she is/isn't, is the cycle through the slate quarries, which is basically a wide, flat track, with a gentle descent if you go from west to east...

I would start gentler than you think that you need to - that would be more confidence building, that you take her to something and it is a bit too easy for her, rather than the alternative. I know that in the past I've been a bit too overenthusiastic myself and put people right off things by suggesting stuff that is too hard - it's easy to do if you are confident about it yourself and don't notice that anyone else might have a problem with it (just look at the thread about approaches to crags).

My ex husband went off my lovely suggestions for walks after I took him on a really nice walk over the Aonach Eagach ridge!
Chris the Tall - on 13 Sep 2013
In reply to BazVee:
> (In reply to mkean)
>
> Be careful at Coed Y Brenin I took my now wife there and reduced her to tears. From memory all routes (apart from Blue & Green) have the same technical (if you aren't a mtber) start. The blue and green routes would probably suit though

My wife managed to crash before she even got to the start at CyB (i.e. before you go through the forks). She still enjoyed it though, but yes the start is quite tricky.

Mind you another of my mates managed to crash (and gash his elbow) before he even left the car park on one ride. And I've not been able to ride for a fortnight due to multiple injuries from crashing on a farm track !

ChrisJD on 13 Sep 2013
In reply to malky_c:
> (In reply to mkean) How much are you against some tarmac?....
>
> Depends on your preferences, but I'd much sooner do that than some tedious prepared trails.

LOL, you mean tarmac isn't a prepared trail!

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mkean - on 16 Sep 2013
In reply to all:
Cheers for the advice. We went to Coed Y Brenin in the end and had a great time. We did all 3 sections of the blue loop with no trauma and then decided to have a look at one of the reds only to bottle it at the first obstacle as there was a small river running down the rock garden :-) So we went back and did the first two sections of the blue a bit faster and with her in the lead.

Brilliant little circuit, really nicely laid out with some well though out obstacles that give a new rider a sense of achievement without serious risk of crippling themselves :-)
Tom Hutton - on 16 Sep 2013
In reply to mkean: Good decision and thanks for posting the outcome...
balmybaldwin - on 16 Sep 2013
In reply to mkean:

Great little track that Minotaur - easy for begginers, yet interesting enough for those with more experience (and seriously quick).

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