Geo-Trips :: A wet & muddy day in the Irfon Forest

Llanwrtyd Wells

A cycle ride from Llanwrtyd Wells, Sat, 15 Nov 2014 by Richard Law

Every year since (roughly) the late 1990s, the Real Ale Wobble event gives a couple of hundred mountain bikers the opportunity to follow a marked route through the forests and moors to the north & west of Llanwrtyd Wells. Until fairly recently, it was usually a 2-day event, with a couple of route options on Saturday, and the same 2 routes run in reverse on the Sunday - so yesterday's climbs became today's descents, and vice versa. More recently it's transformed into a single-day event, but still gives the option of two routes, generally one of about 17 or 18 miles, and a longer one of 25+ miles.

Conditions in mid November can be interesting. I've done it in snow and frost, and I've done it when some of the tracks are knee-deep in water. Whatever the weather, the organisers lay on at least one coffee and burger stop, but more importantly they provide two or three beer-stops in the forests. The effect of this is invariably that riders become progressively more prone to falling off as the day goes on; fortunately falling off a mountain bike in the forest is (generally) not too bad, as there's soft mud, leaves or water to fall into. In places, of course, there are some rocks too.

The 2014 event seen here was predominantly of the 'mud-and-water' variety, most of which found its way into the clothes of the participants through the day. The ride here was roughly 25 miles, and involved at least 3 big ascents.

Click the blue circles to see a photograph taken from that spot and read further information about the location. The blue lines indicate the direction of view. There is also a slideshow of this trip. ( )

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SN8846 : Llanwrtyd Wells Health Centre & carpark by Richard Law
Llanwrtyd Wells Health Centre & carpark
The carpark's been co-opted for the day, mainly by participants in the 2014 Real... more

SN8746 : Bromsgrove Hall, Llanwrtyd Wells by Richard Law
Bromsgrove Hall, Llanwrtyd Wells
Part of the town school buildings; on this occasion being used as the start venue... more

SN8746 : Mass start - Real Ale Wobble by Richard Law
Mass start - Real Ale Wobble
Riders leaving Dolecoed Road at the start of the mud-fest that attracts 500+... more

SN8749 : Forest track on the hillside above the Nant Cerdin by Richard Law
Forest track on the hillside above the Nant Cerdin
High above the valley track [[1048574]] used 6 years ago; on this occasion we were... more

SN8749 : On the east side of the Nant Cerdin by Richard Law
On the east side of the Nant Cerdin
The second big climb of the day, and shortly before another highly 'technical'... more

SN8749 : Back on the flat in the valley by Richard Law
Back on the flat in the valley
A group of slightly shocked riders at the bottom of a very steep & slippery... more

SN8750 : Beside the Nant Gellifelen by Richard Law
Beside the Nant Gellifelen
6 years on from the last photo taken hereabouts [[1048579]] and you'd think the... more

SN8751 : High on Esgair Fraith by Richard Law
High on Esgair Fraith
Riders in the Real Ale Wobble event, flogging up one of several long fire-road... more

SN8752 : Riding up Banc Paderau by Richard Law
Riding up Banc Paderau
Forest track, with the open grazing on Cae'r-gof in the background.

SN8753 : Singletrack above Cwm Morris by Richard Law
Singletrack above Cwm Morris
A narrow-ish section of track high on Banc Paderau.

SN8753 : Watersplash on bridleway near Bwlch Bach by Richard Law
Watersplash on bridleway near Bwlch Bach
A heavily used bridleway (I suspect motocross bikes) with a series of dips &... more

SN8651 : An uphill bit by Richard Law
An uphill bit
Climbing the track beside the Nant Cae'r-gof onto Cefn Grug. The forested hill to... more

SN8651 : Forest track on Cefn Crug by Richard Law
Forest track on Cefn Crug
Nearing the top of another monster climb on the 2014 Real Ale Wobble event. This... more

SN8651 : Narrow track on Cefn Pen-y-bont by Richard Law
Narrow track on Cefn Pen-y-bont

SN8551 : On the edge of the Irfon valley by Richard Law
On the edge of the Irfon valley
Riders in the 2014 Real Ale Wobble, contemplating their options at the top of a... more

SN8551 : All downhill, and all very interesting by Richard Law
All downhill, and all very interesting
The start of a steep, fast and muddy downhill section of singletrack, containing... more

SN8550 : Beer, barbecue & coffee by Richard Law
Beer, barbecue & coffee
The main rest-stop on the Real Ale Wobble in the carpark area at Pwll y Bo, where... more

SN8550 : Climbing the forest track onto Pen y Garn by Richard Law
Climbing the forest track onto Pen y Garn
Another long fire-road climb out of a valley onto a hill; part of the fun of the... more

SN8450 : Forest track high on Pen y Garn by Richard Law
Forest track high on Pen y Garn
Riders in the 2014 Real Ale Wobble making their way up towards the top of Pen y... more

SN8449 : Head down, teeth gritted, nearly there... by Richard Law
Head down, teeth gritted, nearly there...
On a forest track comprising the long climb up from the Irfon valley below, now... more

SN8448 : Excellent descent into Cwm Henog by Richard Law
Excellent descent into Cwm Henog
A narrow and muddy singletrack bridleway descent from Cefn Cwm Irfon into Cwm... more

SN8448 : Bridleway across a hillside by Richard Law
Bridleway across a hillside
On the flank of Cefn Cwmirfon, this bridleway cuts diagonally across the hillside... more

SN8548 : Bridleway above Cwm Henog farm by Richard Law
Bridleway above Cwm Henog farm
One of the few tracks around here that wasn't wet, cut-up, or muddy on the day of... more

SN8647 : Forest road on the north side of Banc y Ddnas by Richard Law
Forest road on the north side of Banc y Ddnas
A fire road at the foot of the day's last long climb, up from Llanwrtyd village... more

SN8547 : Forest track junction on Banc y Ddinas by Richard Law
Forest track junction on Banc y Ddinas
The day's hills appear to have pretty much broken this rider - we'd done the thick... more

SN8447 : Track above Cwm Lletgwial by Richard Law
Track above Cwm Lletgwial
Forest track on the north side of Banc y Ddinas.

SN8446 : A little sunshine at last by Richard Law
A little sunshine at last
Decent daylight for the first time all day, here lighting a track on the side f... more

SN8446 : On the homeward leg by Richard Law
On the homeward leg
Tired riders in the 2014 Real Ale Wobble, covering the last mile or so of forest... more

SN8546 : Bend in forest track at the head of the Nant Gyrnant by Richard Law
Bend in forest track at the head of the Nant Gyrnant
A couple of the last riders in the Real Ale Wobble are making their way across the... more

SN8646 : Rider finishing the Real Ale Wobble by Richard Law
Rider finishing the Real Ale Wobble
Near the end of the day's last descent, in this case following a zig-zag path down... more

All images © Richard Law and available under a Creative Commons licence external link.

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