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Monday, 27 October 2014

Dragons Back Ridge
Ben Dunster is an 18 year old student studying Mechanical Engineering at the University of Bath. He lives within riding distance of the Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons, which he tells us 'is pretty much the perfect location if you are a mountain biker'. Ben's been filming his rides with a GoPro for nearly three years and it's via his YouTube channel that we became inspired by one of his latest trips. If you get your kicks from big views, technical descents and plenty of sweaty effort getting up then this is definitely one ride for you. I'll let Ben tell you a little more about it:
"Encouraged by a father with a love of cycling, I learnt to ride not long after I could walk and have not stopped since. I have competed in disciplines such as Cyclo-cross, XC MTB and Road all my life. My favourite place to ride is the Black Mountains because of the fantastic terrain and isolated feeling. It is how natural riding should be.

There’s no two ways about it with the Black Mountains, whichever route you choose it will involve a difficult climb. On this day I decided to ride (and push the steepest parts) up the Dragon’s Back ridge. I intended to ride down, starting near the Black Mountains Gliding Club in Pengenfordd. This allowed me to check the ridge before riding down.
I continued up onto the top of the Black Mountains, peaking at the Pen Y Manllwyn summit (775m). After taking in the views and a drink, I turned the camera on, and set off on the descent. The ride down is a good as it gets. It’s really fast in places, and steep and technical in others. And if that’s not enough to contend with, the sheep are likely to be in the way. Although a short ride, and a slog to get to the top, the Dragon’s Back Ridge is my favourite ride in the Black Mountains because of the 360 degree ridge views, spectacular terrain and adventure ride feel. It’s a truly unique experience."
For more inspiration check out Ben's YouTube channel:

Posted by hannaht at 15:09:44

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Aerial View of A470 at BikePark Wales
Unusual view of the very jumpy A470 red grade trail at bike Park Wales.

Posted by hannaht at 14:34:57

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Busy at Brecha
The trail pixies have been really busy recently in Brechfa. If you've not been for a while you'll find bigger jumps, smoother berms and fewer puddles.  Here's a quick update and photos so you can see how nice it rolls. 
On the Gorlech trail there have been improvements on the 'Gardens' (second to last) section of singletrack, redirecting water and repairing the trail after a landslide earlier in the year, also rebuilding the last berm in a set of four to bring it back up to its original height. On the final decent of the Gorlech, just past the bridal way crossing, there is new trail layout to prevent water causing a huge puddle.
Harvesting is now complete at the furthest point of the Raven close to the red route, the singletrack up there is barely recognisable now the trees have gone and give great new views over the Cothi valley.
The Raven has had a lot of work done on the Jump Park, redesigning the tabletops - the last table top is now much bigger than it used to be! Some repairs have also been done on the Raven's 'Gully' berms, the decent that comes out on the forest road where it meets with the green before the green / blue cross roads.
Finally, some repairs have been done on the Derwen's (green trail) second to last section of singletrack.

All of the works are riding really well and the recent dry weather has led to amazing dry dusty trails. All photos are from Maia Media. And a big thanks to our models Ivy, Carl, Nick and the very awesome little Pedr.

Posted by hannaht at 10:48:04

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Trail Review: Black at Coed Llandegla
Trail of the month: Llandegla Black
Difficulty level: Black/Advanced
Established: 2006
Distance: 21km
Nearest Trail Centre: Coed Llandegla / One Planet Adventure
Parking: Coed Llandegla Mountain Bike Centre
Good place to refuel/eat: One Planet Adventure Café (it’s one awards including ‘Best Breakfast in Wales’ by The Times)
Most scenic spot: Morwynion Valley where the red and black split.  


Overview: A well groomed, fast and challenging route that slaps you about the chops and leaves you grinning all the way to the car park. But beware the route isn’t a winch up, fly down, repeat.  You are going to need to bring a set of legs with you as every descent is matched by a brilliant ascent to get your lungs working.  Technical features coupled with fast flowing singletrack make this a stunning all round tester of a route.

Llandegla’s most prominent feature is the well groomed nature of it’s trails and the black route is no exception.  There are still plenty of exciting features to test you and you’ll have to keep your wits about you but it’s a real speed merchant of a route.

The start is shared by all trails and quickly gets you to the top of the hill, some nice flowing singletrack takes you down into the valley where optional black lines start to give you a flavour of the route.  As you ride through the forest past some great windfall trees a vista opens up to you looking down the Morwynion Valley.  The wide open valley gives you some stunning views and is a great place for that group photo or quick snack.

Here you are presented with the start of the black proper.  The singletrack is fast and flowing, twisting through the trees.  Beautifully crafted singletrack tugs you this way and that down the side of the hill.  After 100m or so you can choose one of two lines, Parallel Universe, which is a more jump focused line or Big Jim’s a more singletrack route down the hill.  Both offer huge grins but are very different in flavour.
The later sections of black throw in some great macro features like the elevated boardwalk and B-line. Afterwards you reconnect with the red route and head back to the trail centre.  There’s still plenty of exciting, fun and fast features to keep you focused as well as an abundance of lung and leg busting ascents. 

Most technical section: B-line is worth a special mention, a fast extended boardwalk starts this section leading into some great jumps that come thick and fast.  Everything is rollable but there are some subtle hips, scoops and blind jumps that will require your full attention.  Like everything here if you keep your speed under control it’s grins all the way.  A short sharp ascent leads you into the second set of descending jumps.  These are a little simpler to negotiate so watch your speed.

Summary: A super groomed, jumpy pumpy trail. If you like jumps you’ll absolutely love this trail.  Lots of big berms and tight singletrack make this a very rewarding ride.  Take it as fast or as slow as you want but there is potential to really get some speed and air. That said don’t underestimate the climbs as you’ll still need a pair of good legs

Posted by hannaht at 14:36:18

Wednesday, 03 September 2014

Bog Snorkelling Triathlon 2014
HMBT: Hi Elizabeth.

EM: I think you'll find I prefer World Champion Female Bog Triathlete 2014 these days! But, yes hi!!

HMBT: I believe you are the 2014 Female World Champion Bog Snorkelling Triathlon Champion. It's quite a mouthful to say. How does it feel and what was involved to gain such a title?

EM: Ah yes! I'm glad you have remembered. Quite a mouthful to say?! You should try the 13km fell run, the 120yrd bog snorkel and then the 19km mountain bike ride! Initially, the experience felt quite exhausting, and then freezing but I suspect that was just the after effects of having run up a great big hill ( I wanted to say mountain, it felt and looked like a mountain to me?) and then getting in some cold bog water! I don't think that the enormity of the event and the title has even begun to sink in yet, although I have asked at work to have my door sign changed to reflect my new status and I have asked if any one wants me to sign my autograph. To be honest I think that they too are also overwhelmed by my new status as no one has approached me yet about it....Do you think anyone wants me to turn on their Christmas lights?!!

HMBT: We are fans of mountain bikes around here. How did you find the mountain bike leg of the race?

EM: The mountain bike part of the race was the one that I felt most prepared for prior to the event and the least prepared for during the event!! I have completed a couple of sprint triathlons and a standard aquabike, but in those the bike bit came after the swim and before the run, I found that completing the run, then the snorkel and then the bike really took its toll on my calf muscles in terms of cramp. I suspect that the cold water in the bog ( do I keep harping on about this?! It was cold!!) and in the pond sized epic puddles on the MB course played a role in this. The course itself was really quite pleasant, although the grass and field parts at the beginning and end of the course was physically challenging.

HMBT: And what's it like snorkelling in a bog? Stinky?

EM: I don't know if I want to make this common knowledge if I want to defend my title next year ( this year only 2 women in race!!). I was prepared for really dirty, stinky water and you know what - it wasn't!! A pleasant surprise.

HMBT: Can you give us an insight into the type of training you did to prepare?

EM: I didn't run for 3 months and sat on my arse instead studying for my PhD!! Aha ha ha, ok the first part is completely true, I've just finished seeing my physio who I've been working with for the past couple of months trying to sort out my wonky biomechanics. This was my first run back and I wasn't sure if I would be able to complete it. In addition I'd never run further than 7.2km before and that was by mistake when in the 1st triathlon I did someone made a miscalculation!! However, that said, I do usually go swimming twice a week (once open water long swim, once triathlon club swim training), cycling 2-3 times a week a mix of hill reps, time trials and longer rides, as well as a mix of circuits, yoga and metafit 3-4 times a week. I suppose now, I have no excuse not to go back to run training! :(

HMBT: Will you enter the Bog Snorkelling Triathlon again...or has it put you off for life?

EM- I cant believe you have even asked this! For me Bog Triathlon is not an event its a way of life!! It's a mind set! I'll be back next year to defend my title! Furthermore I might even do some run training and wear appropriate footwear!

HMBT: Anything you'll do differently next year?

EM: Yeah, smile! Normally, if you ask friends and family they will tell you that I am always joking around and laughing, however having seen the photos of the event if you asked the spectators they would tell you I was the most scary looking serious person! A friend showed me a picture where I look like Jack Nicholson in The Shining - I showed it to my mum and she agreed! I would also google 'how to avoid calf cramp when bog triathloning' and research it as I was in agony during the bike bit! Oh and I'd remember an inner tube so I wouldn't have to borrow one from a kind stranger that I had full in intentions of returning, but then ended up nicking - thank you kindly bog triathlon man. Finally I'd be more careful when handed my trophy so I didn't drop it on the floor like this time ooppss!

HMBT: I notice there were quite a few other events on at the World Alternative Games. Do any other events take your fancy? Which ones?

EM: I think it would be easier to tell you which ones didn't! I absolutely love the idea of the WAG and I think its fab. I have already been talking to people at work about doing a trip next year. And I think I'd like to do the double next year both the bog tri and the bog snorkel......with that in mind I'm off to dig a pit in the garden and practise!!

Posted by hannaht at 19:44:26

Monday, 01 September 2014

Bog Snorkelling MTB
A taster of the weirdness that goes on at the World Bog Snorkelling Championships every August in Llanwrtyd Wells.  It's definitely worth a visit and a dip in the bog for the brave. 

Posted by hannaht at 22:11:09

Friday, 15 August 2014

BikePark Wales celebrates first anniversary with new trail open
On the 24th August 2014 BikePark Wales will be exactly one year old. A lot can happen in a year, ups, downs and everything in between. We’d be lying if we said it has been easy, but all of the best things in life are worth fighting for right?

We would like to thank every single customer that has visited the park this first year. We hope you have enjoyed your visits. Each and every one of you is helping to create a sustainable future for this amazing facility. Our ever expanding trail crew are flat out not only maintaining but also upgrading existing trails. Checkout the all new “Insufficient finds” trail as well as improvements on Zut Alors, Willy Waver and Enter the Dragon as well as a new start to Vicious Valley.

And now for the really exciting news, to celebrate our first birthday we will be opening the first of two completely new trails for 2014 on Sunday August 24th jump trail; this red graded trail is a work of art, each lip and landing sculpted with love and care from Welsh rock and dirt. Created as a collaboration between trail building company Back on Track and our own trail crew, A470 Line is set to be a new favourite for visitors to BikePark Wales from across the globe.

If you aren’t excited enough already, take a look at this short edit by Liam Murphy, the first in a new series of “BikePark Wales diaries” which will keep you up to date on happenings at BPW. This first episode features Trek World Racing rider Laurie Greenland shredding A470 Line in a recent test session.

The aptly named A470 line is the UK’s biggest and best A470 line will open on Sunday 24th August. We will also have many of our great sponsors in attendance to enjoy the weekend with us so stop by and say hello to the guys from Mercedes-Benz Vito Sport, Mojo/Fox,
Trek and Shimano as well as the guys from MBUK.

Thanks again to everyone for making our first year such a great one, this is just the beginning, there is plenty more still to come from BikePark Wales.

Build it and they will come

To book online and find out more visit

Posted by hannaht at 10:20:22

Saturday, 09 August 2014

Your MTB related photos!
We are revamping the Centre pages on the website and on the look out for great Welsh mountain bike related images. If you have a photo you wouldn't mind us using with a credit please add it to the Flickr group. We're after any kind of image taken at a Welsh trail centre. Families, POV, big jumps, tasty food...anything.

Thanks and I look forward to seeing them!

Here's the Flickr group -

Posted by hannaht at 11:37:40

Friday, 01 August 2014

Trail Review: Blade Trail at Afan Forest
Trail of the month: Blade Trail
Difficulty level: Red / Difficult
Established: February 2014
Distance: 24km (with an additional 23km available if you incorporate the Skyline Loop)
Nearest Trail Centre: Glyncorrwg Mountain Bike Centre- Parking: At Glyncorrwg Mountain Bike Centre- Good place to refuel/eat: Skyline Café in the Centre
Most scenic spot: Check out the view as you emerge out of the tree after Twister.
Rider numbers: Over 5,000 since Feb with the busiest day counting 222!

Overview: The Blade trail is a fantastic addition to the Afan Forest Park trail network and provides the perfect addition to the already impressive array of trails.  With lots of great singletrack sections combined with some of the ‘classics’ like ‘Peregrine Ridge’ and ‘Jetlag’ it shares the same sheep track climb out of Glyncorrwg with the ‘White’s Level’ trail but then the Blade takes you out to higher and more remote areas as it twists and winds its way around the 24km Red graded loop. You finally hit the top when you look out over a spectacular view over wind turbines and rolling hills.

Crossing the fire road and starting the first descent is exciting, the trail immediately tells you it's slightly different and by the time you hit the trees you can tell you've signed up for something very special.  The tight technical trail through the trees is invigorating and provides a great challenge.

Once back in the familiar areas of the skyline trail you hit another of the great elements of the Blade Trail - optional lines.  You can follow Peregrine Ridge or The Rock to finish on either Happy Life or Jet Lag.  All the options are where the trail really makes it's name, there's loads of rock features, big berms, great singletrack and all on the side of the hill overlooking the valley.  The final leg back into the trail centre is quite the test with challenging rocky features that are going to leave you hanging on for dear life with a huge grin on your face.

Most technical section: Climbing wise it has to be Groovy Gully which tests most peoples climbing skills as it climbs it’s way through a steep sided gully about ¾ of the way round the trail. There are a some great technical descents but look out for ‘Ghost Train’ which is the section after the amazing views over the Brecon Beacons which gets pretty tight and requires good line choice. Both ’The Rock’ & ‘Happy life’ sections will have you thinking you’re in the Alps on a dry day with numerous rock steps and fantastic views but don’t take your eye off the trail! Most of the Blade trail descents are real benchmark Red grade (Difficult) and require a good amount of skill and confidence to ride well.

Summary: With some tough technical climbs and fast flowing descents it off­ers a fantastic day out for the more experienced rider which will test both your climbing and descending skills. The Blade Trail is the perfect evolution of trail design and an excellent addition to the existing routes. Trails don't get much better than this with it’s mixture of new skool trail design including huge berms, banks and swooping lines with more technical rocky obstacles.

Important Note:
Make sure you stick to the way marked trails as it now passes through the Pen y Cymoedd wind farm construction site.

Posted by hannaht at 11:03:19

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Adventure X event at Coed y Brenin
The Rhinog Raptor Adventure X Race took place on July 13th 2014. Calling in at Coed Y Brenin it was set amidst the rugged beauty of the Snowdonia National Park. Steep climbs, wild terrain and all sorts of off road surfaces from fire roads to grassy singletrack made it a genuinely tough day out. The long route circumnavigates Rhinog Mountain Massif and is approximately 95% rideable, with one section which was a carry climb for most, if not all riders! Check out the video. 

Posted by hannaht at 16:54:18

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