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Tom Hutton dodges the sheep but feels the heat at one of the lesser-known mountain bike hotspots in North Wales.

Every year, there’s a day when winter relents and spring takes over. By midsummer, you could be forgiven for thinking it’s a gradual, more linear process, like night into day, or hot into cold, or a new bike into a trusted old steed. But it’s not… there really is just one day.

And if you’re a mountain bike route researcher and photographer, coming out of a long winter and watching forecasts daily, while trying to keep riding mates onside and primed to muster at a moment’s notice, you start to get tetchy when that day is overdue. And it was.

I know, it’s hard to believe now, after one of the best summers UK mountain biking has ever seen. But then, back at the end of April, it seemed like it had been winter forever and I was getting desperate. Not only to get my work done, but also to get back to the Clwydian Hills – one of my favourite, lesser-known spots – and to reacquaint myself with some of the area’s best trails.

In the end we’d waited long enough, so we took a flyer. If we left it much later, work and family commitments would be sure to get in the way and we’d never get our diaries lined up.

It worked out perfectly. Yup… we chose the day…

Thee Clwydian Hills, or Clwydian Range as they’re also known (or just the Clwyds!), form a humpback ridge that stretches north from Llandegla to the coast at Rhyl. The highpoint, Moel Famau, is the huge rounded peak you see as you drive into Wales along the A55 (eagle-eyes will spot a building on the top). They are modest in size in comparison to Snowdonia further west, or the Berwynion to the south, but they are very mountain bike friendly and boast some great trails.

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About Singletrack

Editorial: Longer Shortcuts Chipps encourages us to expand our mental maps and seek out the hidden byways between here and there. In between, happiness lies. UK Adventure: There Be Dragons Here! Probably… Sanny takes advantage of the long dry summer to check out a Lake District route reputed to be so wet, steep and horrible that only a fool would try it. Column: Jason Miles Jason just wants to ride a long way. However, he’s not keen on being judged for it. Classic Ride: Clwydian Hills Tom Hutton takes us on a tour of this lesser known riding spot in an eort to persuade us there’s more to Wales than trail centres and Snowdon. International Adventure: Just When It Was Going So Well Jason Miles dons his best Lycra and jumps on one of the worst bikes he’s ever ridden to take part in a local Spanish stage race. Spoiler: he doesn’t win, but by getting to hear the tale, you do. Interview: Simon Gallup - There Is No Cure Best known as the bassist from The Cure, Simon Gallup is a cycle nerd and collector of Orange Bikes. Chipps goes to check out what’s in his shed… quite a lot as it turns out. Behind The Scenes: Build It And They Will Come Antony de Heveningham takes a look at unauthorised trail-building and asks whether this is breathing life into the trail network, or threatening its very existence. Behind The Scenes: MIPS - Twisting My Melon Our resident neuroscientist Dr Barney Marsh checks out the technology behind MIPS helmets and the injury risks driving their development. Bike Test: XXC We test out three short-travel, full suspension bikes from Intense, Saracen and Yeti to see how this new crop of slack(ish) but swift bikes compares to their steeper cross country brethren. Plus much more…