Forever Afan

Back when I started riding mountain bikes I used to go to Afan Forest reasonably frequently. Like most trail centers it offers decent challenge for most. Like anything it depends how fast you ride things. If it's easy go faster. Simples.

The Afan Valley gives a real feel of remoteness at times and stunning views

It's been a while since I've been back. With more uplift and steeper terrain being my flavour on longer away trips or just going to different places. I hadn't been back since a round of the UKGE a few years ago that can only be remembered for one outrageously muddy freshly cut section where I nearly lost both shoes in the gloop. The other weekend I found myself in the right place and the right time to have a return to the valley and what I found reminded me why I loved it so much in the first place.

Afan has changed. Like our other Welsh favorite Cwmcarn it is suffering with a tree disease which means that there has been a lot of felling in the area and previously wooded tracks are now exposed to the elements. Bad. Well actually not always. The exposure and weathering has made the trails a bit looser and a bit rockier. I picked a nice day so I was a fan however I suspect a rainy afternoon could have brought along different feelings.

There is still some tree cover. Here the Banshee relaxes against a tree midway through a tough climb.

Afan is a classic trail center. I rode the W2 trail. A combination of the famous Wall and Whites level. Both great trails in their own right. They have changed. Not only because of the lack of tree cover in places but from memory one or two features have been smoothed, particularly on the first climb (I swear there used to be a tricky rock step that is no longer and there were a couple of other things which I had either gotten better at or had got easier!). The descents are still brilliant and as a ride W2 is a day long affair. Windy Point, Energy, Goodwood, Graveyard are all still great trails and singletrack gold. Worn in and rugged. I was out for 4 hours moving time but with a little technical and a stop for coffee it was a 5 hour trip. I think that in  group however you can probably add at least an hour to that.

Afan has improved. It is still challenging. You will never be the quickest on any strava segment there. Cheeky lines have developed here and there. A local told me about a new section to Goodwood which I didn't find but was sworn to that it exists. The crown though is the bike park. It's not new. But it is new to anyone who hasn't been there before. It has a café. The girls there are hilarious. Go and drink their tea. The bike park has sets of rollers and jumps that would keep most riders amused for a decent amount of time. At the bike park/café there is an adjoining campsite with a bunkhouse and camping pods available. I'll be going back and bringing beer. It is located halfway round W2 and thus perfect. Meaning you are never out in the cold for too long.

Classic Welsh singletrack

Go back to Afan. You wont regret it. Take your mates. Get drunk. Ride bikes. But not at the same time.