Last time I rode this loop I had lost some sunglasses, swapped some brake pads badly and dropped them out, so had to fit a second pair. I’d then missed a turning or two and ground out the route home into a constant headwind before burning my calf on a hot rotor at the bottom of a late descent. I wanted to go back and see if my Oakleys were still on top of Y Das, and I had a couple of improvements to add another level of rollercoaster descent into the ride. Oh, and another brutal climb of course.
The ride is a proper big day out. It starts basically straight up the mountain in a climb that most guides claim is a push and carry for the last 250 metres. I want to meet the writers of these guides and ride with them as I consider the climb virtually all a push.
Once on top the pay-off starts with a long fast rocky downhill which is everything that riding can be, even if it’s off singletrack. The old pack route drops beside a stream on open moor towards the reservoir at Grwyne Fawr, then past the dam and on down to the valley bottom. It’s a long fast ride that makes you remember what mountain biking can offer as you drop through the open mountain side.
The road cruise from there is where I’ve struggled before to find the turning to take me right back onto the hills, this time was no different, but we took a track that seemed right and winched up into the woods. Another push up a trail that has been adopted as a downhill track and we were out on the top of Crug Mawr ready for a spot of food and then a real treat of a singletrack run curving over the shoulder of the hill and then down into the valley steeper and steeper.
Right onto the road and then the climbing slowly started, on tarmac at first and then a quick sharp up leading into a long hard drag up the valley. This is one of those climbs that never gets hard but just keeps coming. Spinning through and inching higher it takes you up on an ancient through-route up and over the saddle of the mountain.
Straight into another brake-melting rocky drop and then another kick past Castell Dinas and a surprise rocky sunken lane next to the gliding club and then we were spinning back into Talgarth with a whole lot of climbing in tired legs but immensely satisfied with a day in the mountains.