Ride report: Afan W2 Sun 4th Dec 2011

See our ride report from Jan 2011 plus our Afan trail guide. Maps: OS, GPX, mapmyride

By Tim Norris

I am new to this and I am not fit! So why did I decide to make my first ride with MB Swindon the gruelling 40km double trail loop known as W2 in the Afan Valley? Well it was in Wales, and what better way is there to spend a Sunday than in the Welsh valleys? I’m from Wales you know!

Sunday morning I woke early and spent an hour trying to talk myself out of the ride. Not being in the saddle very long and going to a known mountain bike hot spot with red and black graded trails was messing with my head a little. The journey to Glyncorrwg was 95 miles down the M4 to junction 36 and then north through Maesteg to Glyncorrg and the £700K purpose built trail centre. The facilities here for bikers are superb; showers, bike shop, cafe serving hot food and a bike wash – just about all you could wish for in a trail centre.

There were 15 of us from MB Swindon and we set off at around 10.30am starting with the 6km climb on White’s Level. You gain height pretty quickly on rocky and technical single track that zig-zags up the hill side. We climbed through Y Trwyn (The Nose), Dastardly and Mutley and Two Tombstones until we eventually arrived at the optional black Section. To get to this point took around 45mins to an hour and I honestly thought my legs and lungs were going to burst; negotiating roots and rocks up hill for 6km is hard work for most and for me it was a killer! So by the time we reached the top I had decided along with Rafe and Phil to do the black section and then enjoy the rest of white’s level rather than adding the whole of the Wall trail as well.

The optional black section is just over half a mile of boardwalk, rocky berms, doubles and drops. Did I say drops? I meant DROPS! Most of the club stopped at one point to ponder a particularly steep section that I have promised myself I will do next time. Apart from this obstacle the rest of the section is a lot of fun and not as dangerous as the black label implies. The boardwalk thankfully has been finished with chicken wire which means that it is rideable in the wet, though keeping your concentration is key if you don’t want to fall a few feet into the bog or into some bushes. Mostly the black section is rollable, so if you keep your balance its a simple matter of letting gravity and your bike do the work. The last steep descent with some big berms looks scary but is a piece of cake.

After this we climbed up to Windy Point and began the descent through the excellent wooded Energy section, the fast Goodwood and finally Darkside’s descent to take us to the valley floor. From there it was a short pedal back to the trail centre. These last sections provided some amazing views of the valley below and as much as I was enjoying the ride I had to stop and take some pictures. The Welshman in me has missed the valleys and this one looked beautiful from up there.

White's Level near Glycorrg Ponds
black section at White's Level.
Bottom of black section.The Wall climb at Afan
View from White's Level at Afan

White’s Level is approx 15km, and for my mediocre fitness level was good work out. Rafe, Phil and I arrived back at the visitor centre around 1pm for hot drinks and chat. The rest of the club arrived back at about 3.30pm having tackled Whites’s and the Wall…

Next time, with a little more confidence and perhaps a sneaky bar of chocolate or two I will join them. But for now I am happy that I came away in one piece, not too exhausted and home in time for tea!

I want to say a special thanks to Rafe and Phil for the company around the trail, some riding tips, their patience while I debated some descents and frankly for waiting for me to catch my breath!

When can we go again?

The Wall at Afan

3 thoughts on “Ride report: Afan W2 Sun 4th Dec 2011”

  1. Great Video guys, going in a couple of weeks.. Were many of you using SPD’s? Just curious if W2 is SPD friendly?


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