Catching up with a friend in Llandudno left me rather late arriving at Betws-y-Coed for a ride today, so I knew it was going to be tight fitting in a full ride this close to the shortest day. What I hadn’t factored in were the trail conditions. After parking up in town and riding up past the Bryn Afon guest house and up the ‘I swear this road has become steeper’ climb to the Marin Trail, it must have been past 2pm.
Despite the ticking clock I pressed on. The first section of Singletrack that you reach when joining the trail this was is through a thick conifer plantation and was almost pitch black to ride through. After that most of the trails weren’t too bad at all for light. The section through to the carpark at the official start to the trail above Llanrwst was awesome in a brakes off, letting it flow, kind of way.
After that of course is that climb, the long drag that goes on and on and then again once you’re across the road. The trail conditions steadily worsened and there was more and more snow further around the trail. Conditions were pretty severe and without any lighting or proper winter spec clothing, I bailed after Pixies Paradise and took the A5 back to town. It was properly dark by the time I made it back to the van and I had feet and hands like blocks of ice.
It would have been very foolhardy to have pressed on with the trail even if I had just taken the fire road a bit further to the road descent down from Pont Banog, let alone trying to take in the final section of Singletrack. The conditions were getting icy and I would have potentially have just been another statistic. These mountains can’t be underestimated, especially in conditions which have already claimed the life of others.