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Trails Centres – Where it all began

Posted by Rachel Simpson on 18th July 2016
| Blog

Mountain biking in Wales

25 years ago we saw the start of the trail centre revolution, and it was here in Wales where it all began. Coed y Brenin led the way in setting up waymarked trails specifically for Mountain Biking. Initial trails were basic (along forest roads) with the trails named red trail and yellow trail and some simple mapping provided for riders. Along with these trails the area was also identified as a potential mountain bike race venue, the first race being held by NWMBA in 1991 on a route cut through the forestry. Mountain biking was clearly creating a stir in North Wales. Dafydd and Sian Roberts who had set up Beics Betws with Sion Parry, hiring mountain bikes in Betws y Coed, were asked by the forest manager to do the same in Coed y Brenin. So they took over the café and created a welcome base for riders to refuel.

Following the interest in these initial trails it was clear that people wanted longer and more challenging routes. The Forestry Commission wanted to increase the numbers to the forest park and so it was the vision of a Recreation Ranger named Dafydd Davies who persuaded the Forestry Commission to create singletrack sections on the routes.

So five years after these initial developments came Coed y Brenin’s first sponsored waymarked trail (and what is often seen as the beginning of mountain biking as we know it) the Red Bull Route was here. The Red Bull sponsored trail was only 11km in length when it opened, however riders travelled the length and breadth of the UK to ride it.

MTB Coed y Brenin

The popularity of the trails and the number of visitors encouraged others to follow suit with the creation of the Karrimoor and MBR trails.

20 years after the Red Bull Route made an impact, our mountain biking in Wales is well known across the globe. Coed y Brenin is now one of the most accessible trail centers in the UK and 10 years ago saw the re development of the visitor centre, ensuring that visitor facilities are suitable for the level of visitors coming to the site year on year. And in 2016 visitors can now enjoy 9 mountain biking trails at Coed y Brenin, from skills areas, to family green trails to technical black trails.

Kids Mountain Biking Wales

And of course all the success and history of Coed y Brenin as it reaches these milestones needs to be celebrated. We started off on the 16th of July with the premier of ‘MTB The Untold British Story’; film which features Dafydd and Sian Roberts and also Andy Braund (NRW mountain bike ranger), explaining how Coed y Brenin fits in with the history of British mountain biking. A screening is planned at Coed y Brenin for Thursday the 4th of August.

As part of the twentieth anniversary of the old Red Bull trail, (now called the Tarw Du trail) a brand new singletrack section will be opening sometime this summer called ‘Y Slab’. An exciting addition to an old faithful trail that started the trail centre revolution.

Then on the 1st of October you can enjoy the Fat Tyre Revolution celebratory event as part of the Coed y Brenin Enduro weekend at Coed y Brenin. Ride the Tarw Du trail as part of the event with a category for old school retro mtb’s. There’s a party in the evening with film screenings, followed by the classic Enduro on the Sunday. So a full weekend to reminisce, celebrate and catch up with old friends and meet new ones. More information on the event can be found on Dyfi Events.

And for more details on what you can expect at Coed y Brenin today, click here for details on trails and facilities.

Coed y Brenin Mountain Bike Centre in Wales

4 thoughts on “Trails Centres – Where it all began

  • John Dutton
    on 22nd July 2016

    What is the location of that trail with all the switchbacks in the second photo? I’m coming over in August to spend a couple of weeks in SW England and Wales and I would really like to ride that trail. Let me know, thanks.


    • hannaha
      on 25th July 2016

      Hello John, great to hear from you. this photo was taken on the blue trail at Coed y Brenin in north Wales. Have a look at their page here
      If you are looking at staying in south Wales there’s still lots of fun to be had, check out Afan, Breachfa, Cwm Rhaeadr and BikePark Wales for a huge selection of trails. Happy riding!

  • on 22nd August 2016

    These are probably the best places to get started; the trails are graded, a bit like ski slopes, so you’ll have some idea of what you are likely to 8 encounter along the way. This is perfect for choosing what route suits your abilities. Most trail centres will have an actual trail centre building or hub, usually complete with parking, toilet facilities, a bike shop and a cafe for that all-important post-ride cake. If you don’t have a suitable bike, a lot of these centres will have a rental fleet available, so you can go out for a ride and see if you like it without having to commit to buying a bike.

  • on 20th October 2016

    It is really interesting. The trails are beautiful and it looks like a great adventure. Seems mountain biking is becoming more enjoyable, with people craving for outdoor activities. I think it’s a great idea to have such well defined trails with other amenities alongside them. I like this post and your images are superb.

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