Last Sunday I got out on my mountain bike for a proper day of riding in Afan forest park. I woke up Sunday morning, not too early but early enough to want to stay in bed a little longer after a few pints at Pipes brewery the night before. I had breakfast, grabbed my kit and rode over to a friends where we loaded up his camper and set off, destination Afan.
Afan forest park is located just north of Port Talbot at junction 40 off the M4. We where going for the the mountain biking but it’s also great for walking.
We parked at the Afan forest park visitor centre and started on the 23km “Y Wal” (the wall) loop. Part way through we decided due to the perfect weather and all feeling fairly able, that we would also do the the “Whites level” 15km loop which combined become the challenging “W2” 44km loop.
The weather was great and the trails were the best I’ve ever seen them. I’ve only ever ridden there when it was quite wet so in the dry they rode brilliantly and the amount of recent maintenance they had obviously had meant smiles for miles.
Half way around we stopped off after the killer climb up from Glyncorrwg Ponds Visitor Centre and sat in the sun looking down the valley toward Cymer. At that point we were feeling some aches and the sun had us sweating but for a moment nothing mattered but riding bikes. Thats the feeling I look for on every ride. Sometimes it’s fleeting but enough to remind me why I do it.
We passed a couple on a tandem mountain bike who then passed us when we stopped. With each push we’d pass them again only for them to go by on our next stop. Eventually we lost them but in my mind I could still see them smashing through the trails, pedalling in unison a team effort, perfect example of trust and cooperation. Respect to them!
The final few descents where worth all the pedalling to get there. I had just enough energy to enjoy them without destroying myself or the bike. Back at the centre I had an emergency pasty to keep me going then we where off back to Cardiff.