Wales is well and truly on the Mountain Bike Map as it hosts some of the UKs oldest trail centres and of course it has Bike Park Wales as the ultimate riding location for many.
However, those that know best know that to get the best out of riding in Wales you have to avoid the trail centres. Make some Welsh friends and you will soon find yourself riding tighter and steeper trails than you would have thought could exist in the UK. Grab a map or hit up Google for some ideas and you will soon find some great ideas and unique riding locations.
I am lucky as I am Welsh. Yes I could stop there as a proud Welshman, but I will continue…. I am lucky as I am Welsh, and therefore lived in Wales and have Welsh friends who can show me their local riding highlights. This last weekend I took a trip around the historic landscape on Blaenavon on the edge of the Brecon Beacons – on a loop part of my own making and partly as a result of searching for rides in the area.
I suppose what I am saying is a bit of local knowledge gives you a head start. If you don’t have any local knowledge, buy some! In the form of Tom Hutton’s book entitled Wales Mountain Biking.
My loop around Blaenavon actually uses part of route number 1 in this book. Other classic rides in the Black Mountains and the famous Brecon Gap loop are also included, as well as some great ideas on the Gower and Snowdonia.
If you decide to follow a route in the book, it’s a handy size and can easily accompany you on the ride. In the book you’ll find step by step (turn by turn) instructions and full details of what to look out for on the route including some suggestions of cafe or pub stops.
My advice would be to accompany it with an upto date OS map as you will find some locations are not exactly as described, the author (as much as he would like) cannot ride these trails often to keep the book upto date. Also remember that tracks become over grown and roads diverted, so it’s wise to have a wider area map in case you have to make diversions.
This book and the others in the series aren’t cheap at about £15 each but if you consider what beautiful countryside and views you are going to explore with the aid of the book, it’s a small price to pay.
Tom Hutton also runs a guiding business in Wales and you can find details on his facebook page or website – http://www.mtbguiding.co.uk.