Darren Fawr, Garw Valley Mountain Bike Trails. First Ride Review.

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I was pleased to hear this month that the Garw Valley had completed their new mountain bike trails.  So armed with my new video camera I had to try them out.  Firstly I drove up the Garw Valley from the M4 Junction 36.  Following signs for Bryngarw I drove up to the top of Bryngarw village.  Parc Calon Lan is well signposted, and has a good sized car park next to a small wooden visitor centre.  They were several riders in the car park and a good atmosphere, plus it was a great afternoon for a ride in the rare winter sun.

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The trails are very well designed.  You can find a map here, on the Garw Valley Community Council website.  There are two loops, both 3km, that can be joined to make one big loop 6km.   The format is very similar to Brechfa’s Derwen green / blue trail, but this ride is very different to that. You start of on the blue loop with a moderate climb up gravel single track.  You soon get to the pinnacle of the blue route.  At this point you can take the blue descent completing the blue run, or head up the black climb.  You could do the blue route several times and have fun.

I took the black route, and it is proper black.  I suppose if you ask for black in a famous coal mining valley you will get pitch black, you can’t see your hand in front of your face underground black.  I must admit i had to push in parts.  As this is Dim Excuses I won’t say it was the first ride of the year, my thin tyres were struggling over the stones, I was recovering from a cold and a goat ate my homework.  There is a further option for a halfway shortcut on the black trail.  I continued to the top where there is a sign saying ‘well done you are at the top. Yeee Haa’!

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All the signage is excellent and bilingual, da iawn!   It is then pretty much all downhill single track.  The top has some really challenging rock garden sections.   This is a very technical track.  Several sections got the better of me (sorry about the moment the trail made me swear in the video).  Once down the black descent you seamlessly crossover to the blue descent, which is very flowing and great fun.  If you are coming with the family or inexperienced riders I would just do a few laps of the blue, as I said before the black is challenging.  All in all, a great addition to the South Wales MTB trails, well done Garw Valley, I will definitely be back soon.

So here is the video edit, sorry about the riding, filming and editing.  I will try better next time.  It is a chest mounted camera, I will try helmet mounted next time.  Music in the video is by Crystal Method.