Despite heavy snow the day prior, Pete was greeted by a cold, crisp day as he head to north Wales to check out Dyfi Bike Park.
Pete found a gap in the early winter storms mid way through a holiday to take a look at Dan Atherton’s handiwork at Dyfi Bike Park.
The previous day’s ice and snow put Slab Track out of action, but that still left 50 Hits, Original Downhill and Race Track up for grabs.
You can check out everything Dyfi Bike Park can offer here.
Located just north of Machynlleth in a village made famous by Wales Rally GB, Pantperthog has seen a massive influx of riders since the Athertons opened their much-anticipated Dyfi Bike Park to the public.
I found a gap in the winter storms, the evidence of which was still visible on the tops, to go check out the last five year’s of Dan Atherton’s enterprising here in the heart of the Dyfi Forest.
Unlike the previous day, the sun was shining strong but the clear night left things more than a little frosty as I rolled into the car park.
A quick trot up the the track the the main building, essentially two large shipping containers, I am met by Andrea Atherton who confirms I’m a little early but that everyone will be en route shortly.
She wasn’t wrong. It’s not long before Rachel Atherton appears, gets me signed on and says that we’ll be behind schedule as the boys are up on the hill try to get rid of the ice from the bridges with grit and flamethrowers.
The sun shines strong as it gains its height, throwing beams through the smoke thrown from the brazier that served as a life saver during the day for anyone looking to warm the cockles pre, during or post ride.
It’s not long before I’m offered to go up for the opening lap with the track check crew, made up of local pinners who can get themselves down the hill quickly but safely, and ride here enough to know the place like the back of their hands.
One cursory run down 50 Hits and I am fully regretting only having a Santa Cruz Tallboy under my legs. With the trails starting at Black Diamond and rising to Triple Black Diamond, I can’t help but feel I might have brought a spoon to a gun fight. Even if the spoon is pretty good at everything else.
With the top of the uplift still rocking some serious ice, we’re shuttled in one of the many Land Rover Defenders a long old way up the hill. We’re left to contend with the top two thirds of either Race Track or 50 Hits. I opt for the latter, happy that I can case the house-size jumps and make the most of some of the best turns I have ever ridden.
50 Hits will definitely tick all the boxes if you like some serious air time, but I was revelling in some of the best turns I have ridden a long old time. A track of just buff turns like the one from the first road crossing on 50 Hits would be a real belter.
After some discussion with Rach, she reckons I’d be happier on Race Track, so back up top for another lap and dive into Race Track. Immediately it’s pretty obvious that the undergunning on the bike front is going to become way more apparent here. Especially on an opening blind lap.
Top tip. Bring more than a 120mm bike if you’re visiting Dyfi Bike Park. In between the rock drops, there were some sublime sections on Race Track too.
Seeing I was a little under-biked, Dan reckons his Atherton Bikes 160 might be a slightly better tool for the job, and boy was he right.
With my eye in on 50 Hits, I returned there feeling a little more confident in the machine beneath me and it did not disappoint. While the Tallboy will happily hold whatever line you choose to point it at in most situations, the Atherton Bikes 160 felt considerably more lively, instantly familiar and happier popping off a lip, regardless how steep.
A second lap on the 160 gave me the opportunity to set the dampers up a little softer, bring the ferociously powerful Maxima brakes and let some wind from the ever reliable Continental Baron Projeckts before dropping in for another lap of of 50 Hits.
Having suitably slapped myself off a slab on Race Track, I opted to content myself with trying to tame the beast that is 50 Hits, and wishing that Slab Track was a little less icy. It’ll be my go-to when I visit again.
With that, I opted to make the most of what remained of the daylight and the super efficient uplift and the healthy size of the hill, putting the Atherton Bikes machine through its paces as I became more comfortable on it.
What really stood out about the 160 was how familiar it felt even when it was over-sprung. I’d love to spend a full day on the beast to see just how fast it will go. It certainly didn’t seem to ever feel flustered during the runs I put into it.
Back at the cafe, it’s pretty obvious that Dyfi Bike Park is more than just Dan beavering away in the woods, but a family and community affair. Dan might have been on the go clearing ice and snow before I rocked up, but at the same time, Rach was trying to track down flamethrowers, Andrea was getting the cafe ready and Gee was roped into driving uplifts almost as soon as he arrived.
Chat to anyone riding or working here, and at the core, is a group of passionate locals, keen to see the park succeed. The young blood get fast quickly as Dan has unapologetically built the trails he wants to ride. That will explain the single to triple black diamond rating on the trails here then.
Those not riding are fully committed to the Dyfi and the bike park.
Dan, Gee and Rach are all keen to see what I think to the bikes they’ve put their name too, and I’m happy to give them some positive feedback, knowing full well that I’m not going to try and blow smoke up their butts.
I’m already looking forward to a return lap and getting more time on their handiwork in 2020.