Over the last 10 years, Coed Llandegla has become well known as one of the best places to visit in the UK for a guaranteed high quality mountain bike ride. With a range of trails, from the picturesque Green Trail around the reservoir to the airtime-tastic B-Line trail, it makes for a great trail centre to work on your progression and fitness. The carefully designed network of trails means that every corner and jump has had some thought in its creation too. I’ve found the better I’ve got, the more flowing the trails have become. As someone who’s been coming here for 4 – 5 years, riding the same route and not getting bored, proves the fact this this place is one of the best places to ride a mountain bike. There are a series of black sections (6km) which are accessible only from the Intermediate red route, which then make up a 21km loop. These are well worth the extra km’s but be warned, you’re fitness will be tested on the many steep climbs – to tell you the truth, this is the only trail centre that leaves me dreaming of an E-bike!
So, you start off with an easy climb out the car park that lasts about 30 minutes, gaining height slowly and depositing you off at the top of your first hill.
Out in front of you is the Welsh hills with a trail now heading down. This is where it starts to get interesting. Over the next 30 minutes, you’ll be spending the majority of your ride going downhill, with it getting faster and faster the lower you get. The trail starts out open and bright, with a wide single track popping down the hill over rocks and small bumps. You then take a left. Here is where the trail splits between Red and Black. Can I thoroughly recommend the black?! It doesn’t drastically get harder, you’ll just now be riding on narrower trails, over some medium sized drops and then berms switch backs and will rejoin the Red again. Consider this your Starter, to easy you into your Llandegla meal.
The trail follows the tree line for the first section, with jumps and berms
After a little climbing back up, you’ll now find yourself at the edge of the tree line. Again here you can choose Red or Black, but for the second time I strongly suggest the Black, as this will be your Llandegla main meal as such; a solid 10-minute flat out decent. Are you ready? The trail follows the tree line for the first section, with jumps and berms allowing you to thoroughly get into it before turning back on itself and plunging into the forest darkness; it’s time to engage warp drive, or what feels like wrap drive. You now find yourself dropping quickly into the forest, the light dropping and the trail difficulty is ramping up. This is the true Llandegla in my mind. Now moving at pace, this is where my new ride for the year, the Whyte T-130 C-RS, makes this loop all the more enjoyable. With 2.6in rubber front and back, you have the confidence to let off the brakes and boy will you want to. You hit a light rock garden quite soon into the darkness, but its best to just point yourself straight and fly over it, as you’re then quickly met with a tight left berm between tress which you can absolutely rail, before popping the next jump, again between trees.
This is the first proper decent I’ve had on the 140mm travel T130 C-RS and with the upcoming barrage of the next 10 minutes of berms, jumps, berms, jumps and drops the T130 eggs you on all the way. In fact, the 2.6 in rubber and its relaxed confidence inspiring geometry caught me out. I felt slow, until I realised I was riding at my normal pace, however the bike had so much more to give. So less brakes and more commitment then, as I continue my journey down threading the needle between the trees!
As with all mountain bike trails, going down eventually means you go up and boy does Llandegla have some steep climbs. So let me fast forward this story until the next personal highlights. What you’ll miss while I skip is flowing climbs, in glorious Welsh forests and my first proper user of the Whyte T130 C-RS’s Scram Eagle’s cassette at the rear, with the lowest gear being the size of a dinner plate; the climb wasn’t that easy though. After some huffing and puffing later, (I thought I was fit) I find myself at the new B-Line. B surly standing for Brilliant, and here’s why!
You know Llandegla has been built by riders, because the next 5-6km gives you more chances to get air than most! The B-Line being your best bet to beat your personal best. Starting out on a bridge, you ride down and to the left, now with the Welsh hills in the distance and in the foreground, table top after table top. It’s at this point, when I realised why the T130 C-RS is held up as one of the best mountain bikes on the market. From jump to jump, its balance front to back feel allows you to concentrate on getting air, letting off the brakes, pumping the run ups and letting it all hang out. It hanged out so well in fact, I went again (you can loop this section, and a lot of people do) and ride even harder. However, don’t get too drunk on the B-Line goodness. There is more, natural trails that lead you back into the forest but delivering the same bang for your buck.
It starts with a north shore section over rich heathland, lasting around about 500 meters, it winds itself left and right, with nice little humps you can pop and then drops you down back onto the stoney trail where you’re met with more tables. Unlike the B-Line, you’re now on a faster, older section of Llandegla, a section best experienced flat out. Jumping off slabs of slate you fly a good 10 feet before landing and hitting the next jump, all at the sametime getting fast and deeper into the forest. With a little more climbing, you hit possibly the best descent before the relatively long slog back to the trail centre.
This time, the man made jumps is replaced by narrow single track, most enjoyed by being neat and tidy with your lines. Look ahead as the speed increased and choose the most appropriate line to make sure you’re getting faster and faster. Now I’m fully up to speed with the T130 C-RS, it’s time to really take it by the scruff of the neck, use those big tires and super compliant suspension to try and gain as much time over my mate as possible. I turn around a right 180 hairpin point the bike down, hammer home a few hard pedals and stay off the brakes. You’re quickly met with a stone staircase but at this speed you simply fly over it, over a road and then quickly back into the forest.
Grins to last a weekend, we arrive back at Llandegla trail head. However, it’s on over yet, unlike most trail centers, Llandgela has a proper café, with PROPER food. There’s nothing better than after a long ride, than filling back up again, with proper hearty grub. Now you’re finished.
So Llandegla. If you haven’t, please go. And if you have, then get back there! There are not many places where you can properly ride a modern trail bike at full tilt and and that be guaranteed pretty much year round. There is also the skills area I was going to tell you about, but that needs its own article, as it’s THAT good. Maybe later! Oh and the Whyte T130 C-RS! Put it this way, it was so good, I may have just entered my first Mountain Bike race next month. Talk about a confidence boost. LETS RACE!!