“Whuuuumppp!” The tyres slip across the compacted rock of the berm, edging towards the lip. The exit appears just in time – pump the pedals, pick up speed, drift to the right, spot the apex and shoulder the bike into the left-hander…
Even now, in the office, we’re still mentally visualising the final switchback section of the Cli-Machx trail. Located in Dyfi Forest near Machynlleth, Cli-Machx is the latest addition to the expanding range of purpose-built trails in Wales. The five bermed corners are built high, high enough to get the bike as close to flat as you dare.
It seems dare is a vital ingredient to mountain biking. Many of us are always looking for the limit, sometimes sliding too far across or more hopefully rescuing it just before hitting the tree stump on the apex.
And dare is something that the Welsh trail builders know all about. Every time we ride one of their new trails we’re delighted by how demanding they’re becoming. On some you could be mistaken for thinking you were in Chamonix.
The singletrack on the Cli-Machx trail is something else though. The whole area conceals the remains of old slate quarries. And it’s this slate that makes things a bit more interesting. Two minutes into the first singletrack of the day, a Kenda 2.2 tubeless tyre succumbed to the barrage of shrapnel. A slice through the sidewall rendered that tyre useless, needing a swift bodge to get it round the rest of the loop.
The second tyre death came later, on the final fireroad descent into the car park. My Nokian 2.3 tubeless rear tyre slashed open by a piece of slate, killing the tyre dead. It wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t a relatively new £35 tyre. So chunky tyres are our recommendation if you’re thinking about riding the Cli-Machx.
While in Wales over Easter we rode a few of the trails. As well as the new Cli-Machx, we revisited Nant y Arian (summit trail), Coed y Brenin (MBR, Red Bull and Karrimor) and Afan (Whites and half-Skyline) and had the chance to measure up the latest trail against the old guard. And a unanimous verdict put it up there with the very finest Welsh purpose-built trails. It easily lived up to expectations – from doing the Raw Dyfi a few times we had an inkling that the stage was set for some quality singletrack, but with a very ragged edge.
The stacked loop system employed works very well too. We like the final descent so much that we could easily take a shortcut a few miles into the trail and cut out the rest.
If you are planning on going to Wales, make sure you detour past this trail as it is worth the visit. It isn’t easy to find, but better signage will hopefully come in the future.