Despite my excitement the 5.30am alarm on Saturday still wasn't very welcome. Choc and Sean arrived a bit later than the planned 6am for the drive to Coed-y-Brenin due to a road closure between Nottingham and Melton. We made good progress and got past Shrewsbury before stopping for a nice big breakfast in a Little Chef. The other lads had stopped at a different breakfast spot so the 13 of us met up in the car park at Coed-y-Brenin an hour or so after breakfast.

It had been raining for most of the drive and the sky was still full of grey clouds as we got changed and assembled bikes. After the obligatory "new bike photo" and a few folk bouncing up and down on it we set off in light rain. Our route for the day was to be our own version of "The Beast" as guided by Baz.

At the end of the first sections of "Badger" and "Pinderosa" the "peg of shame" was already being contested for as both Nick and Sean had had offs! This obviously kick started the banter proper! Our first deviation from the standard Beast route was to do a quick run down "Dreamtime" before looping back round on the fire road and doing the full climb up to "Brutus". The rain had stopped and the sun was out making us all sweat in our jackets. My new bike was going well and I was getting used to the new 2x10 gears quickly. I could feel that the bike was climbing well but I was still getting used to the lower front end compared to my Coves on the descents.

Nick exiting Cain

Being a large group we were stopping at the beginning and end of most of the singletrack sections to re-group. Sean was bringing up the rear with this being his first time on a weekend like this. He was struggling a bit for fitness but doing well all things considered.

On "Abel" I was struggling with the little drops and was all over the shop. Shakey was behind giving me some pellet about the new bike which didn't help. At the bottom I realised that on top of that I had completely forgotten to use my new Rockshox Reverb seat post to help myself! As we re-grouped at the bottom there was some carnage on the last rooty section with Nick having another lie down! The following climb saw Simon off immediately in front of me but I managed to avoid him (and ask if he was ok) and clean the climb. A few didn't.

Sean on the rooty finish to Abel

Next up was the re-worked section of "False Teeth" which none of us had ridden before in it's new state. It's definitely better but watch out for the drop into "The Cavity" which could have you landing right in the bottom of the hole if you are gunning it! Jamie anchored up in front of me on the lip and saved me from hitting it too fast - I moaned at him at the time. Sorry mate.

After "Bugsy" we took our next detour. We pushed up what used to be the old descent to the top of "Uncle Fester". Riding "Uncle Fester" we were slowed down by a couple of less experienced riders. The first moved quickly but the second took a while. Mick was shouting his usual "RIDER!" from somewhere back in the pack as we were crawling behind him. The poor guy must have wondered what was going on? :) Hope he didn't think we were having a go at him? At the end we turned right to pick up the fire road and re-join "The Beast" at "Big Dug". With hindsight we should have done "The Pink Heifer" as we would have got to do it twice then.

The group got a little strung out by the time we were getting towards the cafe at Dolfrwynog but as we were stopping there was no point in re-grouping until we got there. After replenishing ourselves with soup and cakes we took our next detour. This is one lots of people take: missing out the big fire road loop and going straight up the short but steep road and then fire road to "Gomez".

The series of "Adams Family" descents were enjoyed by all and the peg was passed at the bottom to Baz for an incident with a tree. The only damage done was his bars moving :) Next we did "The Pink Heifer" before turning onto the fire road and heading towards the finish. Sean was struggling more now and he and Choc had gone on ahead while Mick fixed a puncture. Unfortunately their lack of local knowledge saw them miss the turn down to the fire road and continue all the way to the end of "Big Dug"! From there they found their way out onto the A470 to do climb the road and see the rest of us back at the car park!

The rest of us finished the route despite some mumblings about skipping the last climb and descent. We were pretty wet from all the puddles so were glad to get changed and head down the road for a pint in the Tyn-y-Groes.

After a few "looseners" we headed off to our accomodation for the night to wash and change before hitting the bright lights of Dolgellau (well a couple of pubs and the curry house!).

Update: the photographs from this ride are now here