All the views but low on singletrack
Machynlleth to Coed y Brenin
- Elevation: 1,300m
- Distance: 67km
- Riding time: 4hr 25mins
Day 1 started with a chilled climb out of Machynlleth, mainly on road. After skirting round Llyn Mwyngil which was stunning and worth stopping to take a picture we dropped into Abergynolyn for coffee and cake. There isn’t many places to stop en route so it was worth refilling bottles before heading up ‘the black road’ which was my highlight of the day. Tarmac up and gravel down to the sea and a stop for lunch at the George III pub with fantastic views and good food. Finishing the day with a long climb out of Penmaenpool after paying our way across the toll bridge, a whole 30p per person! We stopped at a B&B next to Coed y Brenin with ample bike storage and pedalled out for pizza through the forestry roads.
Coed y Brenin to Betws-y-coed
- Elevation: 1,800m
- Distance: 79km
- Time: 5hr 30mins
Today was a big day with the climbing being fairly unrelenting all day. While I feel having a MTB was a good deacison from a gearing standpoint, there actually very little singletrack on the route. Especially since you go through a few of the best areas for MTB in Wales. I’ll be definitely heading back to Penmachno trails in the near future, as I did stray from the route to have some much needed fun. Again the scenery was incredible and every climb was rewarded with a new viewpoint.
While doing the route prep we had scoped out two food and drink stops. The first cafe was shut was closed! Luckily I had a back up plan and we took a small diversion off route to a small convenience shop. With the hot weather we took the opportunity to restock and have a sit in the shade before the main climb of the day. It’s a good thing we over stocked our packs with food and drink because our final stop of the day was also shut. Definitely do your research and have a back up plan if you’re planning to ride the route.
After riding our bikes on the quiet forest paths for the last two days. Betws-y-coed was a shock to the system and somewhat overwhelming! After a much needed curry and beer we were feeling ready for the last day, which on paper was much lower in distance, if not climbing!
Betws-y-coed to Conway
- Elevation: 1,100m
- Distance: 57km
- Time: 4hr 00mins
Another climb to wake the legs up and cheering on the front runners at the Yr Wydrr 100mile ultra, what an incredible effort! Straight into the forest today and out the other side towards Snowdon, I’m glad we hit here fairly early as it was already starting to get super busy in places. The slate trail path to the foot of snowdon was a highlight, and in the bright blue sunshine the views were truly spectacular. A side road skirted the busy main road and was a real pleasure to descend towards the seaside.
A quick pit stop before the last climb of the day was much needed and the route really saved the best/worst to last! Punchy gradients and grassy slopes were the order of the day! Climbing up to the wild ponies and some more spectacular views. We hadn’t left a lot of contingency with catching our train home, so it was a straight into the descent and finally some proper MTB! Although a bit of bog hopping was required to reach this fantastic descent.
Conway was overrun with tourists in the nice weather and just 30mins until our train meant no celebratory icecream on the front! Just a soggy sandwich and a tea on the train home.
I came into this route thinking it was going to have a lot more singletrack and hard MTB descents, but this isn’t the case. While doing it on a gravel bike may be ok, on the whole I was glad to have my lightweight XC bike with good gearing for the climbs.
The views on every day were breathtaking and we seriously lucked out with the weather. While maybe not my full cup of tea, I had a wonderful few days on an excellent route through some of Wales busiest areas while managing not to feel too busy and avoiding the very busy A roads along the way.
If you’d like to read more about the logistics of this trip click here
And if you’re curios what bikepacking with an e-bike is like click here