DOWNHILL MOUNTAIN-BIKING IN SNOWDONIA.
By Gary Robinson/Snowdonia Downhill Collective.
As you probably know, the sport of mountain biking has evolved into
a series of separate disciplines, and Downhill, BSX, and Freeriding,
represent the more extreme edge of it.
Now, you could just buy yourself a middle of the range bike, a
pretty, lightweight helmet, and some lycra shorts, and start toiling
your way ponderously up your nearest forestry road. This gets you
into the wonderful world of mountain-biking. Eventually though,
you will succumb to a slow and painful death-by-boredom!!!
To save yourself, you must move on! Yes folks, in the battle against
boredom, we must fight the urge to use our machines as glorified
exercise-bikes, and start to have what those of us who hurtle down
mountains on huge two-wheeled sofas, call FUN!
Downhill Mountain-Biking does not require the purchase of a £3000
bicycle and a large collection of protective clothing, but all of
the above will help you to do several things.
Firstly, you will be able to ride terrain that you would think
twice about walking down!
Secondly, you will be able to ride these trails at speeds you never
And finally you may even survive to repeat stages one, and two,
until you die from sheer excitement!
However, what you must understand, is that gravity+bicycles=smiles!!!
This is the basic formula for attaining Mountain-Bike Heaven, and
applies whatever your equipment/ability level. You can still ride
down a beautiful mountain in North Wales on your rigid bike. In
your lovely, pink helmet. Yes, even in your lycra shorts (although
this last example may subject you to name-calling, the likes of
which you haven t heard since the third-form!)!
Anyway! To those of you just starting your DH career, they will
encounter other trail-users.
Accident figures involving DH bikes and walkers are surprisingly
low, and we've got to keep it that way! Now, there are several ways
we can do this. Firstly, we can ban bikes from all bridleways and
open country, and herd all these nasty Downhillers into sanitised
riding pens. This goes against all that is sacred, and, if attempted,
would lead to an all-out trail-war!
Secondly, we could all learn to get along!!!
What we are advocating here is the adoption of some common sense,
and mutual respect.
In the past year, I have heard of an incident on the Llanberis Path
on Snowdon, where there was a near-miss, involving a DH bike and
a small child walking to the summit. The bike came close to knocking
the child over.
This is, of course, unacceptable! On another occasion, a biker
from Llanberis was descending one of the local hills, by a route
where there is no path on the map. There is a path on the ground.
Now there was no excessive speed, or reckless behaviour involved,
but a group of walkers took it upon themselves to form a human chain,
across the path of the bike.
The rider was forced to veer over a drop, and was lucky to escape
with some bruising!
Obviously, we have to tolerate other trail-users. If this means
stepping aside to allow a mountain-bike to pass, or planning your
MTB descent to avoid peak times for walkers on the same trail, then
so be it!
So, if your chosen descent is the Llanberis Path (the area s most
popular bridleway), then be aware of the voluntary ban on bikes
between 10am and 5pm, from 1st June to 30th September. A descent
of a busy route like this is also best done early in the morning,
so that anyone walking on the trail is ascending. This way, at least
they can see you coming! Remember also that this is Wales. The weather
plays an important role in all outdoor activities here, and trail
condition and visibility are likely to affect everyone on the route!
In the database are some popular options for a trip to North Wales.
I've tried to include something for the novice, as well as the more
experienced rider. It has to be stressed, though that these descents
do not even break the surface when you come to really look at the
If you need any further information, there is now a W.C.U./B.C.F
affiliated club for downhill riders, in North Wales.
Snowdonia Downhill Collective s membership is open to riders from
all over the U.K. For further details call 01286 871976
We'll deal primarily with routes involving full mountain descents.
Quite often these require a long push or ride to the top. This depends
on your fitness level, the overall weight of your bike (those of
us with DH bikes weighing 40lb+ may take some time to get up there!).
The routes are mostly on bridleways, but some may cross open country,
so think carefully about your impact on the terrain (however, rolling
wheels cause less erosion than stomping boots!).
I recommend the purchase of the OS map of the area, and I have
given grid references where necessary.