Cycling Across Snowdonia Day Two
With Trail Unknown
Four intrepid mountain bikers, one photographer, a challenge that would put their equipment, skills and friendship to the test. Trail Unknown set off to ride across Snowdonia National Park, a 100-kilometre adventure. After a long and successful first day, spirits were high, as the ride entered its second day. Read on to discover how the guys got on, riding their Specialized Turbo Levo Mountain Bikes through Wales' unforgiving landscape.
I awoke and like a kid on Christmas Day, I bounded out of bed and ran to the window. Wet, oh so very wet. Windy, oh so very windy. This was the kind of rain and wind that you can’t tell if it’s coming from the sky or the ground. The kind of rain that makes you want to fall back into your warm cosy bed and not go outside. A quick check of the weather forecast - 70mph winds and torrential rain all day, great. Levels of anxiety, high. As four mountain bike guides and mountain leaders, we have experience in the mountains but the promise of 70mph winds on Snowdon were sure to put our experience to the test. Fuelled by a hearty bowl of porridge, we strapped our gear to the bikes and headed out to conquer Snowdon.
The Rangers descent down Snowdon is hard enough. True raw natural British mountain biking, think a fast open descent followed by some seriously rocky sections that wouldn't look out of place in a World Cup downhill rock garden. Throw in the challenge of wet and windy weather and it made getting your lines right a tricky task. We headed off, into the rain, into the wind, into the unknown.
As soon as we stepped onto the mountain the wind picked up. Will started to climb and was immediately thrown sideways off his bike as quickly as he had hopped on it. This wasn’t going to be easy. We decided to head up as far as we could. Metre by metre we slowly made our way up, staying in a tight pack. The climb up Llanberris is rocky and technical in places but the Specialized Turbo Levo Electric Mountain Bikes held their own, scrambling up the rocks. As we reached the half-way point the wind was noticeably more intense and the rain hadn’t let up.
Legend has it that the mighty giant Rhita Gawr lived in the Snowdon mountains and fashioned clothes out of beards of his defeated enemies. The giant was defeated by King Arthur in a fierce battle on Snowdon, the slain giant now lies under the mountain. With a battle on our hands, it got us thinking that maybe Rhita Gawr had been resurrected and was coming for us, we'd never felt wind like this.
We kept going, climbing up further into the dark clouds that had now engulfed us. We could see our exit to the Rangers path only 500 metres ahead. Suddenly the wind broke. We all looked at each other. Was it over? Had we pushed through the storm to be treated with a glorious sunshine descent down the epic Rangers path? Before a smile could emerge on my wet and weathered face I looked up to see a gust of rain traveling at warp speed to the nearby ridge.
I looked at Tom and Will. I shouted "It’s coming, get dow...!". Before I could finish my sentence a huge gust of wind hit us, pushing Tom into Will and I. We caught him and huddled together, one arm grappling a nearby boulder and the other holding onto my fellow riders. The wind battered and hurtled towards us with immense force. I thought Snowdon is telling us to...‘Get the F. Down the Mountain’. Lying on the rocks, holding onto each other, with the thought of Rhita Gawn stealing my beard in my head, and the fear of being blown back to England, we decided to call it a day. Not wanting to put ourselves and mountain rescue at risk we decided enough was enough. We jumped on our bikes and raced down the mountain. The coast to coast was over...beards intact.
Like any good adventure, it often does not go as planned. We’d had an absolute blast tackling our coast to coast, it was a new route with sections that took us much longer to tackle than expected and we were riding during a very unpredictable weather period. We’d put our gear to the test and it had held out well. We’d had fun unlocking the potential of what our mountain bikes could get up and we were blown away by how good our Gore Wear clothing was.
This was a trip into the unknown and half of the route is still unknown to us. The friendship of five adventure-loving friends has been strengthened after riding some epic natural trails, sharing good yarns around the fire, casting our eyes over breathtaking views of the national park and sharing belly hurting laughter during a few bog related incidences. For this, we thank you Snowdonia. We’ll certainly be back but perhaps when it’s a bit less windy.