AFAN’S NEWEST TRAILS AND A BUNKHOUSE
Words and all photos © Andy Lloyd
After living in South Wales for nearly ten years up until recently I have always been spoilt for choice for trail centre riding. Last weekend I met up with Rowan Sorrell and a selection of old mates to ride a couple of new offerings deep in the Valleys that have been crafted by the Back-on-Track crew.
First on the agenda was a short but intense little trail in the Garw Valley just north of Bridgend. It consists of a blue and a black route, which can be combined for a longer ride. The trail starts off on the blue with a nice gentle climb from the car park, but as you turn off onto the black route the contour lines get closer together and you’re faced with a tough, steep climb interspersed with technical rocky sections to keep the mind working on your way up. Once at the top it is basically one decent back down, but what a descent it is! Fast and flowing out in the open to start with, but not your normal, smooth graded trail centre, this feels rocky and natural. The rest of the descent is steeper – a mixture of natural and bermed corners with a couple of technical rock sections. The black then re-joins the blue for the final, very fast and flowing, bermed section back to the car park, which felt epic with a train of about seven of us flying down it. The whole loop took us about 40 minutes and is a great bonus ride if you are on your way to Afan or even further west.
Afan’s new bike park
The next stop was the new Afan Bike Park for the Cognation St David’s Day weekender. The bike park is an amazing addition to the already brilliant system of trails in the Afan Valley. It consists of five runs of varying degrees of difficulty, featuring jumps and berms up to what I would say were ‘A-Line’ (Whistler’s famous jump trail) sized table tops. This place is fantastic for learning to jump and building up the confidence to go big, as the runs can be lapped in a matter of minutes.
New bike-friendly accommodation: Depot Rd
The weekend was topped off by an amazing BBQ thanks to our host Ewan Shearer. Ewan has recently opened Depot Rd, a bunkhouse with a difference just a stones throw away from the trail centres in the Afan Valley. This is the Ritz of bunkhouses but at a price that won’t break the bank (I sound like a marketing man, but seriously, it’s cheap for what it is).
Built in a converted Methodist church it has a huge communal living area and kitchen with three bedrooms sleeping four in each. Outside there are two self-contained courtyards for all your BBQ and beer needs. There is plenty of secure bike storage and a bike wash. Check the prices on their website, if you book the place Fri-Mon it works out very cheap.