Evangelizing Wales

Let us dispense with pretense. I am Welsh. Though I grew up in the States most of my family live in the green, hilly central part of Wales that the English sometimes refer to as “Deep Dark Wales.” When I’m there, I feel like I’m home. And now that you understand that I love this place from the depth of my soul, I want you to ignore that, because what I’m about to say about riding bikes in Wales is true regardless.

I include video evidence, so you don’t have to take me at my word.

This first video features Coed y Brenin (pronounced Co’-eed-a-Bren’-In, translation: Forest of Brenin), the UK’s first mountain bike park. Last time I was over, the family and I spent a day there, and I focused my solo efforts (once the wife and kids were safely back at the on-site cafe) on the Beast Trail you see here.

The Beast is a real beast, taking in all that Coed y Brenin has to offer, basically a finely designed mountain bike tour through Middle Earth, complete with rushing rivers, waterfalls, thick forest, and pre-historic rock. No one who loves mountain biking could not love a day (or week) spent riding here.

Wales has several, sprawling mountain bike parks, and the country is small. Within a few hours drive you could hit 4-5 spots that would be the best day you ever spent on a bike.

Next I offer not-a-mountain-bike-park, because some folks don’t love a crafted riding experience, though I don’t know why. This is the Trans-Cambrian Way, a 108 mile long path that bisects the middle of the country climbing up an over the oldest mountain range in Europe. It’s rugged, beautiful, challenging, and it’s not the only epic cross country trail Wales has to offer. See also Glyndwr’s Way. This video should give you a taste.

If you like riding mountain or gravel bikes, Wales, though small, can offer you a lifetime of adventure in a setting unmatched anyplace else on the planet. Are other places equally great? Undeniably. Is any place better? Nope.

For the roadies amongst you, I can confirm there are also endless, twisting, narrow lanes to explore. The caveats are that cars move fast, even on those backroads only wide enough for one car. There is also a not small quantity of cow and sheep shit on the road, more or less everywhere. Those roads pitch and yaw like a rollercoaster too. Bring your climbing legs, and a spare set if you’ve got ’em. I’m not saying you won’t love it. I’m just saying it’s not always the idyllic ramble you think you signed up for.

Finally, the people. The Welsh are notoriously nice, almost comically welcoming, and good for a good time. In many parts of the country (but not all) they even speak your language.

Find out more at Mountain Bike Wales.

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