Never one to miss an opportunity to cram a ride into a weekend, when I realised my partner and I were going to North Wales for the weekend to see the future inlaws I just had to accidentally misplace the bike into the back of the car for sneaky lap of Coed y Brenin.

My trail of choice at Coed y Brenin is always Dragons Back as it boasts some awesome sections that never fail to leave me grinning, but on this occasion, pushed for time and as I had already ridden Dragons Back earlier in the year, I choose to give the MBR trail my attention.

It’s been two years since I last rode this trail and there has been an update to the ‘False Teeth’ section which has been getting a lot of positive feedback so I was interested to see just how good it was.

The MBR trail shares the same initial rocky slabbed single track as Dragons Back and as I’ve mentioned before, I don’t find it the best start due to its flow sapping technical nature but it is a good introduction to what are some of the most technical trails in Wales, and act as a warning to those who may be out of their depth right from the outset.

Once through the first section the trail then forks to the left and starts the initial climb which is fairly long and takes you to the highest point on the trail. It’s the kind of climb that gains elevation quickly but it is a bit of a slog due to being all forest road except one section of technical single track – ‘Brutus’. That said it offers a great way to warm up and prepare for the sections ahead.

Once at the top the first two downhill sections are ‘Cain’ and ‘Slated’. ‘Cain’ is fairly rocky and technical with ‘Slated’ offering far more flow but is still a challenge due to its tight nature. Although these sections are starting to feel a little dated they are still a great test of your bike control at speed and go a fair way to explaining the MBR Trails black rating.

The trail then opens out as you cross the river over a beautiful stone bridge, re-built after heavy flooding some five or six years previous, the temporary replacement bridge is still present on the side of the trail. I’ve said it before but I’ll more than happily say it again, as far as forests go, and bearing in mind that this is a working forest, Coed y Brenin is one of the most beautiful. With a perfect balance of natural woodland and tree factory, with a stunning river flowing through the middle, you can’t help but fall in love with the place!

The next section, known as ‘Able’, is a relatively straight section with built in rock drops. It’s been clear felled since I last rode it giving it a barren and exposed feel; a stark reminder that this is a working forest. It’s a section that has to be ridden with commitment and one which will reward you if attacked but its short and soon you are climbing again.

The following climb gains elevation quickly on double track which in places only has one line. It’s one of those climbs that just keeps going so you just have to dig in and get on with it.

At the top though, you reach the newly modified ‘False Teeth’ section. This is one section that does feel fresh and shows that an old dog can be shown new tricks! With flowing berms and tidy rock features this section rides well and the ‘Cavity’, which is a big rock hole, is a great feature that adds to the sections character. I don’t know if all the hype is justified though? Compared to some of the Adams Family sections on Dragons Back, ‘False Teeth’ is just too short and not that spectacular. I’ve ridden longer flowing sections at Cannock Chase which is a similarly recent trail, which suggest that even though the updates are an improvement, they just don’t go far enough to really impress. ‘Bugsey’ follows on from ‘False Teeth’, and again, it’s good, but just not great.

Luckily, after a bit more climbing, you hit a proper section; ‘Pink Heifer’! This is a real section of quality Welsh singletrack, one of the best! It rides quickly and you easily get into a rhythm which allows you to build up speed and attack the trail. With plenty of jumps, rollers and bermed corners this section is fantastic, and one of the originals. It’s a great length and rewards you for pushing yourself. All too soon though it’s over and what follows is a bit of a disappointment.

You now have to face the fact that you have some more climbing to do and after a short punt down some forest road, you cross the river and hit some tarmac for a good distance before you get back off road for another considerable climb. By this point the trail has merged back into Dragons Back for the final sections, the difference being that the level of quality trail already cover by Dragons Back, far outweighs the ‘kinda’ good sections of MBR. Bearing in mind that probably the best section of the MBR trails so far was ‘Pink Heifer’ which is also part of Dragons Back.

The trail basically climbs and descends on forest road before it finally gets to ‘The Beginning of the End’, the first of the final four sections of singletrack that lead back to the Trail Centre. The final sections are good, they flow well and offer a good mixture or fast flowing and technical challenging trail with ‘The Beginning of the End’ and ‘Seven Sisters’ being the two highlights. But soon enough you are back at the cafe and it’s time for tea and cake.

So the MBR trail, is it any good? Well yes and no. I had a good ride and sharpened my skills on some technical sections. As usual I met some good people and enjoyed the shades of autumn which were descending on the forest, but overall, this just isn’t the best trail in the Forest, not by a long way. The sections in the middle of Dragons back blow it away. If you are only at Coed y Brenin for one day, either do the Beast, which is both Dragons Back and MBR combined or just do Dragons Back. MBR is fine if you have a couple of days or if you are pushed for time but if you want to ride the best that is on offer, ride one of the other trails... except Tarw... because that really is old and useless... but I’ll write that one up another day!