MBWales - March Challenge: Big Mountain Descent

March Challenge: Big Mountain Descent

March's MBWales 2012 Challenge is to descend a big mountain! The biggest of them all has to be Snowdon. We challenge you to get you and your bike to the summit of Snowdon and back down again.  There's almost certainly going to be some hike-a-bike but that's all part of the challenge. 

We spoke to Christian from Hit the Hills about his recent trip with a group that conqured Snowdon last October.  He share's a few tips and suggests a possible route so if you're thinking about taking on the challenge you better read up. 

"Sat on your bike at the top of Snowdon with the sun beating down and clear blue skies makes you realise that mountain biking in the UK can sometimes blow you mind!

Hit the Hills (for those who don’t know) takes over great venues for the weekend and turns them into awesome bases for mountain bikers. This time the venue was a remote bunkhouse, accessible on foot at the bottom of Snowdon just above Llanberis.

As some of the guests were arriving after the sun had set, I lined the path with an array of glow sticks to help guide them in and had dinner waiting for them. They made short work of the Chicken and Bean Country Soup; then destroyed the Chocolate Tart, having seconds as well! After a few beers and some banter, it was off to bed hoping to wake up to clear skies the following day.

Morning arrived, I opened the curtains and was speechless! After weeks of rain, we had possibly the best day of the year to summit Snowdon; this was going to be a spectacular day!

The Route
A lot of people just ride up to the summit of Snowdon on Llanberis Path, share some bro-mance with their mates at the top, turn round and then head back down the same way. It’s a great trail but there is an alternative…

If you look at a map you see a network of Bridleways that form a loop around Snowdon. By linking the Llanberis and Rangers Path with Telegraph Valley you get possibly the best day out a mountain bike you can ever have in Wales.

Here's Map My Ride link.

Going Up
After a hearty breakfast and a quick check of the bikes, everybody picked up their packed lunches and it was time to ride. We headed up the Llanberis Path, pretty much riding all the way to Halfway House, overtaking many walkers and regrouping atvariouspoints. There was a few testing, technical and steep rocky bits but on the whole it’s quite ride able.

After that, we carried on riding until the trail got too steep and did a bit of Hike-a-Bike through the second tunnel and then a little further. Back on the bikes we continued to ride until we hit the very last bit, where the bottleneckcoupled with the 1000 tourists, made riding impossible.

The Summit
Took us two hours, which is quicker than I did it last year on foot with my family. We dropped down a bit onto the ranger’s path and had lunch, egging a couple of riders on as they rode down past us. I thought one guy was on a Hybrid bit it turns out it was just massive hardtail with semi-slicks. It would not be my choice for an 800m descent!

Going Down
What followed was amazing. The rangers Path is great; fast at the top, then getting a bit looser and rockier before you hit some tight and steep switchbacks. Some people roosted, others were a bit more cautious but we all made it down in one piece with only one low speed topple.

After clearing the hardest part, we boosted the last bit and hung a right onto the final bridleway and pushed up to Telegraph Valley (its sign posted). After the tight, loose and steep Rangers Path this was a very welcoming blast down to Llanberis. Let’s not understate this trail, it was amazing! Ridiculously fast, rocky in places, lots of water bars to hop and the views were stunning… We had a few punctures to fix on the way down and then headed to the cafe at the bottom of the Llanberis Path for a few beers.

Back to Work
I left the guests to it and made a start on dinner. They rolled back later on; washed their bikes, devoured some tea and cake and then enjoyed some more beers and read some magazines while waiting for dinner.
Some more guests checked in on Saturday night just in time for dinner. We all sat down tucked into the Vegetable Soup followed by a Beef Cobbler. Dessert was a caramelised Apple and Pear Pie with Caramel Sauce.After a few more beers everybody was perfectly content and exhausted from a great day and ready for bed.

Sunday morning rolled around and after breakfast, some riders went off to Coed-y-Brenin and the rest rode the Marin Trail at Llanrwst.
It was a great weekend in Wales, looking forward to the next one already!

Fancy a weekend away? Check out the Hit the Hills weekends page to see what’s on offer.

Points to Note when Biking Snowdon:

- There is a voluntary ban on mountain biking on Snowdon between 10am and 6pm from 1st May to 30th September. This has been agreed with: The Snowdonia National Park, Gwynedd County Council, CTC, Welsh Cycling Union and International Mountain Bicycling Association. It’s a good thing really as it gets massively busy during the summer so it’s best to avoid the crowds and more enjoyable to ride in the quieter months.
- The ridge of Rhyd Ddu is a bridleway so also an option if you have similar balance skills to Danny MaCaskill. 

- Snowdon is within easy reach of a lot of people, the sort of people who you wouldn’t normally meet in the hills. So it’s a good idea to slow down as you ride past them (even say hello?) and avoid riding out of control and at warp speed as you may scare or provoke them.
- Following on from that it is also worth being aware that cyclists who ride “recklessly and without due care and attention…or take part in a race or trial of speed” contravene the Road Traffic Act 1988… you have been warned.

Inspired to ride, want to give get involved with Hit the Hills?
Get in touch and tell us where you want our next weekend to be.

We seriously hope you decide to take up this months challenge and if you do then please share your stories with us via the MBWales Facebook page - http://www.facebook.com/mbwales.  Good luck!

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