On our recent trip to North Wales, myself and Dandy rode both these purpose built trails. They couldn’t have been more different. But which one is better?
There’s only one way to find out -Trail Fight!
We tried the Marin Trail having already been up and down Snowdon that day. After we returned to Llanberis we grabbed some much needed food and Dandy had a cunning plan to drive back to our lodgings at Betws-y-Coed and pick the Marin Trail up part way around.
Firstly, on leaving the B&B, we had an impromptu pit stop as Dandy realised his rear wheel was collapsing as he rode. A huge number of spokes had worked their way lose and it was wobbling all over the place. I’ve never seen a wheel just disintegrate entirely! After some fettling with a spoke key we headed up the road to pick up the trail. UP is the key word here. It was a road climb worthy of crampons, not what you need after already been up Snowdon earlier in the day. Our master plan was not looking so masterful after all. Dandy made light jokes about expecting some hills in Wales while I cursed privately and wished him death by a thousand sprocket cuts.
After some relentless spinning we finally reached the trail crossing the road and began the loop at a rather later-than-planned 5pm. It’s fair to say we were both rather disappointed with the Marin Trail. It seemed as if there was an awful lot of fireroad in the loop. Our negative view probably wasn’t helped by our weary bodies but I don’t believe even with fresh legs we would have come away eager to return. Just between you, me and the internet we didn’t actually finish the loop.
By 7pm I was flagging and suggested we cut a corner off to save some time. Thankfully Dandy agreed and we consumed the last of our meagre food rations and finished the trail before dropping back down the road somewhat faster than we rode up. Dandy had clearly been thinking long and hard about a pint of beer on those fire road climbs and he was not about to pass by a pub without some liquid refreshment. Having endured the hard work of Snowdon and ‘most’ of the Marin Trail the pint felt well deserved.
Penmachno couldn’t have been more different. It seemed like it was nearly all singletrack and ranks up there with the best man-made trails I’ve ridden. It really was great fun and I would definitely recommend it over the Marin trail.
Penmachno has stunning scenery, moss covered woodland, a board-walk section that tries to confuse the mind and the final descent is a real blast. Just when you think it’s all over there is another cheeky section that takes you right up to the car park to ensure you leave on a high note. Brilliant stuff. It’s maintained by volunteers so don’t forget to pop a contribution in the donation box to help its upkeep. There’s no fancy trail centre and organic cafe serving frappuccinos, just a widened bit of fire road. Turn up, ride, go home happy.