After yesterday’s Snowdon Penmachno Mountain Bike Trail, today was all about the Llanberis route.
The weather was favourable for us on the Saturday and as we looked up at Snowdon from our bunk house the top 1/3rd was covered in cloud.
Breakfast. Coffee. Quickly pack and were off to the start of the Llanberis path.
The initial climb is a short sharp and steep fire road and as we tried to race each other to the top we quickly realised that there may be one or two people nursing a small hangover or simply could be those who had failed to prepare!
The road turns round to the left and levels off before heading left through a stile which marks the official start of the Llanberis path. The terrain was typical of Wales, scattered with lumps of rock which you could pick a line through or simply practice your tracks skills on by going straight over.
The climb was broken into several different sections and as we picked our way up it was evident that some people’s fitness levels were greater than others. As we waited at the head of the first climb we took in the scenery and prepared ourselves for the next leg – up over the slate ridden track to the half way mark.
As we headed up further towards our goal we tested each other on the climbing sections seeing who could get the furthest up the climbs without touching down or in the rarer situation seeing who could make a clean sweep of a technical ascent, Sam seemed to power over and up all short sharp technical climbs whilst Kirby simply headed off into the distance powering his way over anything that got in his way.
As we passed the half way marker and rounded the corner to the base of the hike a bike section we soon found ourselves pushing, pulling and carrying bikes up the trail which passes under the train track and greets you with a spectacular view of the valley below. The wind was howling at this point and as we struggled up 2 more riders became victims of the ‘big hill’. Coup and Pete, unable to carry on as their fear of heights set in, decided enough was enough and as they sought refuge under the railway bridge the rest of us pushed on harder and faster.
As we climbed up I thought to myself, there’s no way I’m coming down this loose and steep decent, with no barrier at the edge, just a long drop down to the valley below, you must be mad!
Eventually, after a lot of pushing and pulling, the path levels off and were all eager to jump on the bikes and get pedalling once more. As we pass walkers, charity runners and charity riders we get closer and closer to the goal. The top of the peak awaits us and its not long before we carrying our bikes up the final few steps.
A pat on the back for everyone and a look around reveals were in the cloud and can only see 100 yards ahead. Queue a quick pit stop in the visitors centre and were setting off on our journey down. A quick section down the railway line to pass the walkers and a sharp right back on the trail I realise that the rest of the lads have stayed on the tracks and are faced with a horrible ride down on what can only be described as a gravel trap for the next mile or so.
As I pick my way past walkers and dogs im forced to tackle the rock gardens that scatter the terrain, jumping over and through them as your speed gets faster and faster – it’s at this point I realise I’m heading for the section I didn’t want to ride but in all honest it was fantastic. With every drop and jump your speed doubles and as your brakes start to heat up you know just how great a ride down its gonna be. Round the corner and back under the train track I wait for the rest of the lads (who had stopped at the ranger pass). We all laugh and prepare ourselves for the big decent to come.
The terrain here on in is a little more technical but easily done with a little commitment providing the walkers coming up are prepared to step aside, if not, then you could be in for a rough ride down!
The climb up was well worth the effort as we all fly down the track we’re grinning from ear to ear and only stop to fix a quick snake bite just before the half way marker and then were back on flying down as fast as we can.
As we reach the bottom of the track and head through the stile and down the road were amazed by the ease of the journey. Less than 3 hours riding time, 19 km, 1000 meter ascent, 1000 meter decent and the journey is over.
As we all gather at the train station in Llanberis over a cuppa tea we all congratulate each other on the great weekends riding. Its been a great break spent with some great friends, full of thrills and spills, laughter, snoring and only 1 broken finger, I can’t wait to come back and tackle the big hill once more.