As we were camping in the camp site at the Afan Forest Visitor Centre, it made sense to start W2 at The Wall rather than the alternative which is to start at Glyncorrwg which would mean tackling the Whites Level climb straight off the bat.

Those that have ridden The Wall will know about the first half of the trail. It’s one big fire road climb, with a few choice bits of singletrack to break up the endless ascent. This is not necessarily a bad thing as it offers a great way not only to warm up but to catch up with your riding mates and talk about the weekend ahead. This makes the climb go quickly, providing the elevation needed to turn us all into crazy faced dribbling idiots on the downhill runs that lay ahead.

Unfortunately we had a couple of casualties on the climb. Tony’s troublesome Rockshox Recons decided to give up leaving him no alternative but to limp over to Glyncorrwg on the fire roads in an attempt to repair them for the second half of the ride. The other was Martin’s 2.1 inner tube, that whilst pumped up to the max inside a 2.3 tyre, literally exploded taking the back tyre off its rim, with a bang that sounded like a gun going off. Luckily it happened whist we were taking a break so there was no major harm done. It was just bizarre!

We carried on through the last piece of singletrack on The Wall before it forked off to the right to join the W2 high level link to Whites Level. This link is a two way forest road with some simply stunning scenery over the valley. It offers an opportunity to reflect on just how beautiful this part of the country is as sadly so much of the scenery can be missed when you are hammering down some singletrack concentrating on the next corner.

Once we had negotiated the link we were spat out onto Whites Level just before the Energy section. This meant that we had almost the entire Whites Level descent ahead of us – just rewards for all the effort getting up there in the first place. The descent on Whites is basically a bit of everything. If you were to make a wish list of great things to stick on a long downhill, almost all of them are here. Jumps, northshore, berms, switch backs and optional drop offs, make up the miles of flowing technical singletrack that lead all of the way down the mountain side. No true mountain biker can fail to get to the bottom without a big grin and the want to do it all over again.

So the first half of W2 done, we headed off to the Drop Off cafe to re-fuel for the journey back. When we got there we found Tony supping his third bottle of San Mig. He had been unsuccessful in his attempts to patch up his Trek so he was winding down for the day. So we sat out on the balcony at the Drop Off cafe eating Welsh Rarebit and contemplating the second half of the ride. It’s one of those moments when we had to avoid relaxing too much in the sunshine or the trail was never going to get finished. So we left Tony to take the track back to campsite whilst we psyched ourselves up for the mammoth Whites Level climb.

Regarded as one of the best climbs in the country, the Whites Level/Skyline initial climb is an hour long ribbon of singletrack that winds its way up the mountain side. It gains elevation quickly but it doesn’t seem to! Due to its technical nature, you can get into a rhythm and just get stuck into it. Every now and again you reach an opening in the trees and you get a view down the mountain side at the ponds below. Only then do you realise just how far you have climbed. This feeling then just pushes you on to keep ploughing on until you reach the summit for a well earned rest and a bag of tangtastic jellied sweets.

After a short rest we ploughed on through the first few sections of the Whites Level descent before we were back at the start of Energy and theW2 link back over to The Wall. If the first time wasn’t enough, the second journey across the W2 link offered a different perspective over the surrounding area and just further emphasised how great it is to be out in the countryside doing something that we love doing!

So onto the final half of The Wall which meant only one thing... with most of The Wall climb conquered at the beginning of the day, only a few sections of pedally singletrack stood between us and another great descent to finish off the day! The great thing is that by this time of the day the trail was empty. The Whites Level climb had been awesome with not another rider in sight and we just knew that the descent on The Wall would be one continuous, uninterrupted rollercoaster ride to the bottom... which is was. Although by this time we were getting tired, nothing could stop us cranking down and hitting the descent hard. Chris had been complaining about his hardtail on the climb, but nothing was stopping him now, leading the three of us as we hit the final sections of the day. The trail flows nicely allowing you to maintain your pace and push your limits, and there’s a fair amount of elevation to burn off by this point so the trail just kept giving. It was a thoroughly awesome way to end a great days riding.

When we reached the bottom we just had a few kilometres of forest road left to return us to the campsite which we reluctantly obliged, safe in the knowledge that there were some cool beers waiting for us.

W2 offers a different perspective of both Whites Level and The Wall, and is a must if you have already ready tackled the two individually. It is a fair old distance which makes it a challenge but it is worth the effort and we’ll definitely be back for more. I reckon this may just be the best way to ride these two trails!

Click here to view W2 in the Route Viewer