Saturday, 02 March 2013
Mountain bike partner sought at iconic trail centre
Forestry Commission Wales is looking for someone with the drive and energy to keep Coed-y-Brenin Forest Park at the forefront of the mountain bike scene in Britain.
FC Wales, which runs the iconic destination on behalf of the Welsh Government, is inviting tenders for a business partner to help develop the cycling opportunities at Britain’s first custom built trail centre. The successful bidder will manage the new cycle retail, hire and maintenance building housed within the new £1.2 million extension at the visitor centre, seven miles outside Dolgellau, which is due for completion in June.
The 160m2 area will have a panoramic frontage looking south towards Cadair Idris and include an impressive 100m2 shop, as well as a workshop and storage area for a fleet of bicycles for hire.
Dave Liddy, FC Wales Visitor Management Advisor, said, “This is a fantastic commercial opportunity for a business to work with us at this iconic destination. “We’re looking for much more than someone hiring out bikes here. We want someone able to help us build on the enviable reputation of Coed-y-Brenin Forest Park and increase the positive influence it has on the local economy. “We’re seeking a win-win scenario where Coed-y-Brenin Forest Park’s status is enhanced and other local stakeholders also benefit.”
It is expected that the successful bidder will help to increase the number of visitors to the site and broaden the range of people enjoying the benefits of cycling at Coed-y-Brenin, which was visited by more than 150,000 people last year.
Among the services the new partner will be expected to offer are:
• Retail, bikes, accessories and “trail consumables” such as inner tubes, drinks and energy bars
• Bike hire
• Mountain bike tuition, taster sessions and guiding services, where novices and experts are
advised where and how to make the most of the trails
• A variety of mountain bike events
• Marketing the facilities, both locally and nationally
• Outreach activities, building links with businesses, cycle groups and schools
• Provide site-related information to visitors.
An invitation to tender for the opportunity was placed on the Forestry Commission Wales website on Thursday, 28 February and can be found at http://www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/infd-7nrkwg
The Coed-y-Brenin Forest Park development forms part of the Gwynedd Council-led Eryri Centre of Excellence partnership, which is part funded by the by the EU’s Convergence European Regional Development Fund through Visit Wales and the Welsh Government.
Additional funding towards the project comes from Forestry Commission Wales, Gwynedd Council, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and Tourism Partnership Mid Wales. From 1 April 2013, Natural Resources Wales will take over the functions currently carried out by FC Wales, the Countryside Council for Wales and Environment Agency Wales.
Thursday, 07 February 2013
The Dyfi Winter Warm Up 2013 - A Girls Eye View
The Dyfi Winter Warm Up is in its third year. Organised and run by volunteers it is a great little preview of the Dyfi Enduro which happens in May. It's a perfect opportunity to make sure you keep those pedals turning despite the winter months.
We caught up with Polly from Mountain Yoga Breaks (awesome Welsh holidays combining yoga and bikes) who had signed herself up to accept this years winter warm up challenge. This is what she had to say;
Having missed the Warm up last year and hearing what a great event it was I was determined to do it this year so I made sure I signed up in advance. I won a place on the Dyfi Enduro through MBWales last year - with two weeks to train and having only been Mountain Biking for a year I managed to ride it without getting off on any of the hills or without breaking anything but with plenty of mud and sweat and not quite tears! I knew the event would be a good way to kick start a new year of riding.
Having signed up I then proceeded to try to talk my friends into joining me as my riding buddy - all of them came up with an array of excuses, of which half of them I believed, the other half were just plain terrified! The Dyfi enduro has got such a reputation for being a very challenging ride that all my friends were scared off! So I resigned myself to riding alone which isn’t quite as appealing.
photos by Peter Jones
Luckily on arrival at the Corris Craft Centre I bumped into a friend who was riding with two other lads ,“join us “they exclaimed. I knew by looking at them that I could start the ride with them but they would soon leave me behind on the first hill. I was right, they all left me behind but I did manage to catch up with one of them at the top of the first climb and we rode together from there. With around 300 riders and only around 6 women (that I was aware of) I did feel in the minority - where were all the girls?
The first climb was 2 miles long up a forestry track. I remembered the climb from the Enduro so knew how long it was. I certainly didn’t feel very fit as people just kept passing me up the hill, but I just kept my head up and kept pedaling steadily, having a bit of a chat to people on the way. The first descent was really really muddy, sticky, lots of tree roots and I had forgotten to unlock my suspension so went bouncing uncomfortably downhill in an uncontrolled fashion. It was at this point that I likened riding in the Dyfi Forest to giving birth - you don’t remember the scary bits!
Having been only riding for 2 years now it takes me a while to relax into rocky singletrack and this first one was pretty grim due to the conditions. Luckily they got better after that and once I had turned my suspension back on, had a little word with myself (“c’mon girl, get yourself together, relax, breath, soften up”) I found myself really enjoying the ride. The singletracks were wet, some of them were rivers all the way down, they were rocky, muddy, but fun. The adrenaline was starting to kick in, my focus was improving, my reactions were getting quicker, I did lots of loud whooping down some of the scary bits, being cheered on with “Well done lads, oh and lady!!” by the really friendly stewards, and then we were back to the uphills which were long but steady. The weather was lovely that day, the first bit of sunshine revealing the distant hills, with the odd invigorating hail shower now and again.
It was really nice to get round the 12 miles of the first lap to the food stop where some lovely ladies were handing out delicious flapjack and sausage rolls, it was too cold to stop for long though - especially with wet feet, legs and bottom. After a quick discussion with my new riding buddy we decided that it would be pretty wet to wimp out on only one lap so we went for the second.
The first uphill of the second lap was up a really narrow singletrack which was wet, rocky and tight - I tried to ride it but made the decision that if I don’t want to feel broken I should just get off and push for a little bit - I had nothing to prove (especially after being lapped by superfast boys in lycra on the first lap - not a bad sight!). My legs did feel a bit tired on the second lap but I enjoyed the downhills much more having by this time relaxed and got into my stride. Everyone that passed us or that we passed was really friendly, there was no sense of competition - we were all just out to have fun and enjoy the day. So we finished the second lap, we still had time to do another lap but we both quickly agreed that we had done well and lets head back. So it was a quiet ride back to Corris, with slightly tired legs, people passed us on the road with their mucky bikes on the roof, waving.
Getting changed back at the car park was interesting - not having a van I had to somehow remove all of my clothes, get dry and re- dressed which was quite hilarious as there was a guy sat in his car next to me as I battled with wet leggings and pants - we shared a bit of a smile at the silliness of it as I hopped around trying to get some dry stuff on without revealing too much!
Then with the mild euphoria that comes with the endorphins released during exercise, myself and my new found riding buddies hit the Cross Foxes pub for a well deserved pint and some delicious food... I finished with a stretchy wind down yoga session which meant my legs felt fine the next day.
What a great day, so well organised and such a lovely sense of camaraderie with everyone, I will definitely be going next year and trying to encourage some other ladies to join me!
Thursday, 17 January 2013
Welsh Winter Riding
A short edit filmed over a couple of days during a rare South Wales blizzard.
Snow certainly doesn't stop play...
Monday, 14 January 2013
BikePark Wales construction due to begin February 2013
BikePark Wales are delighted to announce that construction of their first of a kind bike park facility at Gethin Woods is due to begin in February 2013.
BikePark Wales aims to be the UK’s premier mountain bike destination with trails to suit all abilities and all types of mountain biking and will be the UK’s first large commercial bike park.
BikePark Wales is part of the Cognation project that is investing in mountain biking throughout South Wales. The Cognation partnership is made up of Neath Port Talbot CBC, Merthyr Tydfil CBC, Caerphilly CBC, Visit Wales and Forestry Commission Wales. The project is part-funded by the EU’s Convergence European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government with match funding coming from the Welsh Assembly Government and partner organisations.
Planning for the park began in 2008 when the BikePark Wales team realised that the UK and South Wales in particular was desperately in need of a facility of this kind to take the sport to the next level. Fortunately both Forestry Commission Wales and Merthyr Tydfil CBC shared this vision and under the Cognation umbrella they have provided fantastic support to make this project possible.
There has been much speculation as to what facilities and trails the park will have. The aim for BikePark Wales has always been to create the ultimate riding destination for mountain bikers in the UK, the key to this is of course the trails. Responsible for building the trail network at BikePark Wales will be Rowan Sorrell, owner of trail building company Back-On-Track and a director at BikePark Wales. Rowan has been responsible for some of the UK’s favourite trails including Lee Quarry, Gawton downhill centre, Coed Llandegla skills area and the Verderer’s trail in the Forest of Dean.
“I can’t wait to start building the trails at BikePark Wales, it’s a big hill at Gethin with amazing scope to build some really interesting lines. Having a spot to develop over the years and build a full scale bike park has always been a dream of mine. We already have most of the trails plotted and there really is some great terrain on the hill. We will have everything from blue trails to double black diamond so whether you are a complete novice or an elite downhill racer there will be something for you”
Unique to BikePark Wales will be the presence of a full time trail crew to maintain and continually develop the trails. Other trails in the UK have suffered from a lack of investment to maintain them after the initial build. Bikepark Wales will have a full time crew ensuring the trails are kept in top condition and building new sections to enjoy.
Below is an image showing the trail plan for Bikepark Wales over the next few years. It is important to note that not all of these trails will be built before the park opens in 2013 but BikePark Wales envisage that a good proportion of these trails will be open by late 2013 with more to be added in the coming years. The park team have grand plans to continually evolve the trail offering over the next 10-15 years!
BikePark Wales 5 year trail plan
The trails at BikePark Wales will be suitable for riders of all abilities and one thing we can guarantee is fun! There will be a selection of trails suited specifically for DH bikes but the majority of the trails at the park will be rideable on a decent mid travel trail bike. Difficulty levels will vary from easy green trails suitable for families through to extremely difficult black and double black level trails. There will be a pump track next to the visitor centre terrace and a kids trail at the bottom of the hill.
BikePark Wales will also have a vehicle uplift with a Capacity for 75 riders at weekends meaning that BikePark Wales will be able to take more riders than any other destination in the UK. A new more direct uplift road will be constructed on-site
Anna Walters of BikePark Wales added;
“We are aiming to do things a little differently at BikePark Wales. Most of the other facilities in the UK that currently offer uplift only cater to the elite DH market, of course we will also have great trails for these guys but we want your average trail rider to be able to enjoy the benefits of uplift accessed riding too. We will have a myriad of all mountain, trail, XC and freeride trails that can all be accessed from the uplift meaning more people can enjoy the benefits of uplifted riding.”
In addition to the trails and uplift BikePark Wales will also have a bespoke visitor centre with a Cafe, a bike shop, bike rental and a Fox suspension service centre courtesy of Mojo, one of BikePark Wales’ sponsors.
Architects impression of the Visitor Centre at BikePark Wales
BikePark Wales will also be a centre of excellence for mountain bike coaching, if you are looking to polish your skills and learn from the best then BikePark Wales will offer a course to suit your needs.
The BikePark Wales team are keen to recognise the support the project has had from its fledgling stages.
“The support has been fantastic. There are a lot of stake holders in this project, from Merthyr Council, to Neath Port Talbot who are managing the wider Cognation project, to Forestry Commission Wales, the vision and support from all parties has been amazing to see. We’ve also seen incredible support from within the bike industry and businesses local to the bike park. Chris Porter of Mojo/Fox was the first step up and support the project financially, Huw Lloyd-Lewis, avid mountain biker and owner of Swift Credit a company based in nearby Merthyr Tydfil has also stepped in as a sponsor early on. Other brands already signed up as sponsors include Shimano, MBUK our media sponsor, iXS and Answer handlebars. The list continues to grow as news of the project spreads”
Chris Porter of Mojo Suspension added the following;
“Mojo Suspension is a big believer in built trails for the UK. We love our wilderness rides as much as anyone but we also love to know that a trail will be ride-able in the worst weather. We believe that trail centres are helping mountain biking in the UK to grow and helping it to become a year round sport.
For this reason we were the first company to stand up and financially support BikePark Wales in their efforts to establish the UK’s first privately run gravity bike park! We have every confidence the Park will be a great success and we are so glad that it is situated less than half an hour’s drive from Mojo, right at the heart of the Mountain Bike Mecca that is South Wales.”
Construction on the trails and visitor centre is due to begin in February 2013 and the park is due to open to the public during Autumn 2013. The BikePark Wales team will announce more detailed information in the coming weeks and months. In the meantime we ask you to follow our Facebook page and Twitter for updates and news on public dig days to help create the trails, competitions and your chance to let us know what you want to see at the bike park.
For all enquiries please e-mail email@example.com
You can follow the progress of the project on Facebook and Twitter.
Tuesday, 08 January 2013
New Year Resolutions 2013
Last week I was looking for a little of my own New Year Resolution inspiration so I put a call out on our MBWales facebook page
asking for bike related suggestions. Here's a list of what the rest of you are aspiring to get up to. If you haven't got your own goal for 2013 why not pick one.
- ride more, (keep it simple)
- ditch work more to go riding, (hmmm...)
- ride the Welsh XC series,
- ride the Gravity Enduro events,
- smash up Afan as much as possible, (smash?)
- bike EVERY day off work, (ambitious but I like it)
- more night rides in Gwydr,
- ride as many Welsh trail centers as possible, (ride them all!)
- trade your bike in for a canoe (we don't recommend this one),
- hit down hill sections harder and faster,
- ride more unfamiliar trails, (there's plenty of 'em out there)
- fall off less, (easier said than done)
- get muddier, (always)
- ride better,
- ride 6,000 - 10,000 miles (tired thinking about it)
- ride the Welsh Coast to Coast route
So what are you waiting for? Pick up that bike and go ride!! Happy 2013 everyone!
Tuesday, 08 January 2013
Four by Three
Free riding madness with the Athertons at Langynog Quarry. It's big and it's epic! We really do have some world class riders and venues in our small country called Wales.
Wednesday, 12 December 2012
New Afan Bike Park
Cognation are please to announce that the new Afan Bike Park opened to the public on
Friday the 07/12/12. The Bike Park is located near Bryn Bettws Lodge, Gyfylchi and can be accessed from Y Wal trail and will be a great new asset to Afan Forest Park.
Watch the new trail video:
Also here’s a complete description of what will open.
1)Afan Bike Park- The adult bike park has a range of different graded runs each with different types of berms and jumps. It will be a place where people can focus on improving technical riding skills and have lots of fun!
2) Extra Loop on
Y-Wal– a new section of trail on Y Wal that will work as loop (and can therefore be ridden as much as you want) and offers riders the opportunity to have a bit of a downhill singletrack adrenaline buzz. This new section can be accessed after the Graveyard section and before the Final Descent Zigzag.
3) New option of trail on 373 of Y-Wal - an extra section of trail that is an option on 373 of the Y-Wal. Just something new and exciting to refresh the existing trail.
These developments are part of Cognation mtb trails South Wales which is developing mountain biking acrossSouth Wales, the project is part funded by the EU’s Convergence European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government with match funding coming from the Welsh Government and partner organisations. For more information visit www.cognation.co.uk or visitwww.facebook.com/cognation
Tuesday, 23 October 2012
Night Riding Tips
Shorter days and longer evenings mean it's the perfect time to take up night riding. For me, the sensation of riding my bike at night takes me back to when I was a real beginner - not because I'm making guff errors on the trail - but because I often find I have a heightened sense of focus and intensity when I ride. So October's MBWales 2012 Challenge is to take up a night ride adventure. Here's my 4 top tips to get you started.
Image by 'badbobevil
' from the MBWales Flickr Pool.
Night Riding Top Tips.
1) Take time to set up your lights.
The ideal light setup combines a helmet-mounted spotlight and a handlebar-mounted broad beam light. But if you can afford only one I would recommend a helmet-mounted light. Mount it close to the centre-top of your helmet and aim it at least 8-10 feet ahead. The bonus of helmet mounted lights are that they direct the light where you are looking rather than what's in front of the bike.
2) Ride a trail that's familiar
At least for your first few times night riding it's better to ride a trail that you know like the back of your hand. It will be a completely different experience anyway and it will help your confidence if you don't come across any unpleasant surprises.
Last year both One Planet Adventure at Llandegla and Wheelism at Coed y Brenin organised night riding sessions within the week so if you don't feel like taking the plunge on your own why not join a group of other like minded night riders. There's also the possibility to hire lights but it's best to book in advance first.
3) Wrap up warm
Temperatures at night can drop rapidly so make sure you're prepared for riding the trails but also have an extra layer incase something doesn't go quite to plan. If you have a mechanical or an accident which means you can't pedal it can be a long cold walk back to the car/house/pub.
4) Charge your batteries
Obviously double check you've charged your light battery before you even leave the house but also know how long your batteries last and don't plan a route you won't finish in time. My light has a number of settings and I often change it to the dimmest setting when on flat, smooth doubletrack or forest road. It's still plenty bright enough for people to see me and for me to see ahead but saves battery life for when I need it most.
Monday, 01 October 2012
MTB Digital Community Survey
Cartwright Associates has been contracted by Forestry Commission Wales to research and write a digital marketing plan for Mountain Biking in Wales. It needs to become a self sustaining business for it to work and to ensure we have covered all avenues we are requesting your feedback, views and opinions.
Most importantly of all, how can Mountain Biking Wales (website and any other presence) become indispensable to its users and generate an income?
Please take 5 minutes out of your day to let us know what you think by filling out this survey - www.surveymonkey.com/s/B3GFXPS
, Trail Developments
, Mid Wales
, South Wales
, 2012 Challenge
, Gethin Woods
, Antur Stiniog
, Coed Trallwm
, North Wales
, Gethin Park
Tuesday, 25 September 2012
Skills Tuition and Guiding at Coed Trallwm
A guest blog post from mountain bike skills guide Phill Stasiw -
- who recently ran a days guiding and skills tuition for Canopy & Stars competition winners Ed & Jenna.
"Canopy & Stars, the luxury glamping site from Alastair Sawday's recently asked MBWales if they could run a days guiding and skills tuition for their recent Great British Adventure
winners Ed and Jenna who would be staying in Mid Wales in a luxury Yurt. MBWales contacted myself
to meet up with the winners at the quirky Coed Trallwm Trail Centre near Abergwesyn to give them a taster of Welsh biking.
So after a quick introduction and idea of ability it was clear that Jenna had done very little in the last 3 years since taking a nose dive over the handlebars last time she went out and Ed who was an adrenalin fuelled rider who wanted to learn how to stay in contact with his flat pedals after converting back after SPD's. So we had both ends of the spectrum for riding! We started off riding the blue trail which climbs gently up through the forest chatting and learning as to what level Jenna was at. Just before the first single track we went over a few basics of body position, braking and getting Jenna to relax on the trail. I gave Ed an intro to energy management and encouraged him to try pumping the bike through the dips and rises to cut down on pedalling and create more flow and less wasted energy. The first descent was nice and solid to start and Jenna coped well and was trying desperately to look further down the trail and keep a good stable platform out of the saddle. After a a few more metres she was up and standing taller ready to absorb and anticipate the trail and all it's features. Ed was nowhere in sight!
We continued round a few corners and was a good time to point out some basics again, but also for Ed to think about opening his body up to the corner more by switching his leading foot in the corner or berm and getting more trunk rotation rather than restricting it. He liked the theory and thought that he might do it already, after a couple of corners he pointed out his right foot is always forward, so something to keep trying at, particularly of steep switchbacks.
Once we finished the blue trail we popped into the cafe for a cuppa and Jenna sampled the lemon drizzle cake. The cafe soon filled up with riders from Notts riding up the Abergwesyn Gorge behind the Devils Staircase, I suggested flippers and a snorkel, but thankfully some had done it before and knew what was coming.
Then it was the red trail, a long climb up a forest road, and then one long downhill and again a short loop of some 5km, but nice views toward Elan Valley and newly laid trail made the climb worth while. Jenna was still building her confidence and continued to show progress with a steeper drop tackled and a more fluid ride the whole way down, while Ed was pumping and manualing his way down and waiting where he could watch Jenna down clapping and encouraging all the time. At the bottom Jenna had made the whole ride with no crashes or scrapes that she had on her last outing so a big plus to go forward for getting out with Ed when they get home.
So we finished up with a great day had by all. I had a short drive north to Llanidloes while they set off to their next luxury stay in Somerset, they were worthy winners of the competition and I wish them all the very best for their future rides together."
If you're interested in mountain bike skills tuition and fancy improving your skills just like Ed and Jenna then please contact Phill Stasiw -