Brechfa Raven Trail – Improved
I first did the Raven MTB Trail at Brechfa, not long after it first opened in August 2008. There were a few of us on that ride and it has to be said it was quite a mudfest! Some sections were closed due to the surface breaking up and others were barely rideable. It was fun and certainly showed promise, but it took us ages to complete it (over 3 and a half hours), we had several mechanical issues and although it was fun, it was quite a slog at times. You can read my complete session log from that ride here. I enjoyed it but as you can see finished up by saying:
Definitely a trail to do if you can, but it may be better when not quite so wet and muddy.
Well, last week I had the chance to do it again. Unfortunately it had been raining heavily for a week or so beforehand so it was going to be wet, but I’d heard reports that much of it had been resurfaced and the mud wasn’t so much of an issue.
I set off from the car park and the frist sections (that it shares with the blue trail) were all riding really well. Then when the trail split, the first climb was just as brutal as before, but it has been re-surfaced and lots of extra drainage has been put in, so although it still drags on and I was in the little chain-ring it is now rideable. It is still quite a tough climb though. The muddy, slippery descent is still pretty much the same, but they have re-jigged the final bend onto the fire-road to make it a little easier. It’s still quite a challenge though which is good and I don’t mind some mud in the right places. I’m not sure how long this descent will stand up to abuse from MTB tyres though.
Then it was into the trail proper, lots of climbing for the first half, but everything was much better than last time. Quite a bit of easy single track climbing and quite a bit of time spent in the little chain-ring for me, but all OK. The descents all seemed a little easier than last time as well. Maybe I’m getting better, or maybe my new bike helps, but last time I felt as though I was close to my limit much of the way around, this time it was just fun. The bit through the woods across the top has had quite a bit of work done on it and was much better and the section that we missed last time due to trail closure was really nice. A nice flowing section weaving in and out of the trees.
The final third of the trail is much more un-natural with some big man-made structures, lots of big berms, table tops, log balances and bridge crossings to really mix things up and by now I was feeling good and enjoying the ride. By the time I got back to the car park (1 hr 45mins after starting), I felt as though I wanted some more and did contemplate popping back up to do the final bits again.
Its a good trail. The black grading is probably justified, but it is all perfectly rideable. I might even get back next week for another go.
And here’s the topographic profile, complete with my heart-rate trace!