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Friday, 08 May 2015

Drum Mountain
Sometimes all I really want to do on a mountain bike is ride up a massive hill and blast down again. North Wales has lots of big hills and some of the very best mountain biking in the UK. There is one hill in particular called Drum which is perfect if you have a few hours to spare and fancy a change from a Coed-y-Brenin or the other trail centres or more well ridden spots. It has been on my to do list for many years and for various reasons never been ticked off.

Its sits proudly in the north east corner of Snowdonia, set slightly back from the lower coastal hills which the North Wales Path traverses. If you have driven west along the A55 you will have probably seen Drum, it is the first big hill you see in Snowdonia from from the road and always gets me excited about spending the day in such a magnificent setting.

I think there are three reasons Drum has been on my to do list: 
1) There is a broad stone bridleway all the way top which means you can ride from pretty much sea level all the way up
2) It's 765m tall which is larger than most hills you would take a mountain bike up, generally mountain bike trials in the UK top out at about 500m
3) Its situated along the North Wales Path running from Conwy to Bangor and has great view out to sea and over Snowdonia.

The route starts at the carpark for Abergwyngregyn Waterfall (GR663720) just past Conwy on the A55. The track is rough and loose in places with one or two steepish sections but on the whole pretty good. Anybody with a reasonable level of fitness should be able to ride it all and if you are really fit you should be able to do it in one go!

There is a bit of steep road to contend with at first which gives way to a broad stone bridleway bringing you onto on a slight plateau with great view out over the Irish Sea. As the trail traverses the hillside you begin to gain more height and can look out over more of the North Wales Coast. At the cross roads turn right for the final half of the ascent out on to the ridge as you make your way to the summit. You many encounter some Welsh Mountain Ponies along this stretch.

Once at the top congratulate yourself, enjoy the views over Snowdonia and if the weather is bad you can take shelter from the elements in the refuge. This is where the bridleway ends so turn round and enjoy the blast down.

 It took about an hour and half to ride to the top and about 20 minutes to come down. Not a massive day out but can be linked with other tails nearby if desired such as the path to Rowan and round to Conwy or further west to Bangor.

This post was written by Christian Newsome from Hit the Hills who provide mountain biking weekends and breaks in North Wales specialising in the best full-board accommodations for large groups.

Posted by hannaht at 08:34:16

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Beer & Bike Roadtrip
My conversion to good beer had fermented in America when riding the Transcontinental Great Divide mountain bike route. We found nearly every small town had it's own micro brewery putting out some amazingly tasty beer. On returning home I googled 'Breweries in Wales' and was impressed with the sheer number and variety of micro and not so micro breweries. Beer and bikes had already proved to be a rich combination...surely an adventure a little closer to home was worth a trip.

The northern and southern parts of Wales are very different; accents, language, population density; industrial heritage. But they both clearly have very good mountain biking trails and although Wales is often considered a country of two halves it doesn't take very long to drive from the bottom to the top. I began to plot a treasure map of breweries and trail centres and look for that sweet spot on the Welsh venn diagram where bikes and beer come together. I was pretty much spoilt for choice.

The plan….ride, drink beer, sleep. Repeat.

We had heard plenty of great things about the new Blade trail which had only opened in 2014 so with that in mind we decided to start our roadtrip in Afan Valley. I can conclude it is an absolutely fantastic addition to the Afan Forest Park trail network. The trail itself has 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 round creating a 24km red graded loop. You finally hit the top when you look out over a spectacular view over wind turbines and rolling hills.
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. In my opinion the Blade Trail is the perfect evolution of trail design and I personally don’t think they come much better. A combination of new skool design including huge berms, banks and swooping lines with more technical rocky obstacles.

If Afan Forest Park were a beer it would be a modern golden ale. Alive with fresh citrus aromas which leave a subtle and pleasant bitterness.

After tiring ourselves out it was time to sample the comforts of Afan Lodge. It’s ideally located between Afan Forest Park Visitor Centre and Glyncorrwg Mountain Bike Centre. We found it made for a perfect base camp with all the Afan single track trails available within a short cycle ride from the door. As a mountain biker you won't feel out of place - in fact you'll feel positively embraced. Bike paraphernalia adorns the walls, there's a pump track & skills loop in the garden, a secure bike lock up on site and huge food portions to sate most appetites. And to top it off there is plenty of Welsh beer available in the bar too. We found ourselves quaffing Neath Ales and a selection of bottles from nearby Cerddin Brewery. Delicious. After plenty of ‘isotonic rehydration’ it was time to rest our heads. Tomorrow was going to be a big day...we were going to learn from a Master Brewer.

Ray Davies is the man behind Grey Trees Brewery in Aberdare. In 2011 he found himself running a pub but increasingly frustrated that bland boring global brands dominated and everyone was drinking mass-produced larger. The tradition of independent breweries had vanished from the area. In that moment he set himself a mission - to get people in the valley drinking proper beer again. After investing in a beautiful copper brew plant Ray breathed new life into an old industrial unit and got to work making the very best crafted ales using the best hops, finest malts and tastiest flavours.

We were all too aware of the Grey Trees Brewery reputation but until now had yet to taste the delicious nectar. Needless to say we were both very excited to meet Ray. He's ex-military and he's serious about his beer and it's quality. He doesn’t take short cuts and for all those reasons he knows how to produce damn fine ales. Ray and his team made us feel so welcome and gave us a full tour of their brewing process and answered all our slightly naive questions. Our time at the brewery was topped off with a full tour and tasting session. We talked malt, hops, dark Welsh Valley ale and fresh trendy IPA's influenced by the American and Scottish craft breweries. It was a real treat! It was interesting to find out Grey Trees Brewery also produce the Wibbly Wobbly ale for newest trail centre kid on the block, BikePark Wales. Having tasted the beer we felt it would be rude not to sample the uplifts.

Arriving at BikePark Wales was exciting. I’d heard lots about this place since it’s initial conception and had been keen to ride here from the beginning. The thought of the uplift for the day was a real guilty pleasure. The visitor centre is spacious with a good booking in process and some spares if you’ve forgotten anything. We got ourselves sorted, picked up the trail map and headed over for the uplift. After a quick and efficient drive in a minibus we found ourselves at the top of the hill looking at the trailhead. It was decision, red or blue? For us blue was the perfect choice for a warm up. The trail snakes away over the rise and takes you on a fun ride over and down the hill. There’s plenty of new skool features to keep you engaged and the height loss is enough to stop you from pedalling most of the time. The trails all connect at a fire road about ½ way down which does interrupt the flow slightly but it also provides a little rest time or a chance to catch up with friends. It also allows you the opportunity to stitch together different sections. So you could start the descent on a blue and switch to one of the many red or black trails for the next section. It’s this feature that ultimately enables you never to feel bored...there’s so many possibilities.

The red graded trails were a great step up and provided plenty of extra interest. Having the luxury of riding them a few times meant we could really dial them in. The black routes were

Posted by hannaht at 15:33:01

Tuesday, 07 April 2015

New singletrack at Nant yr Arian
First new trail at Nant in 10 years - A new section of red grade trail has opened at Bwlch Nant yr Arian. It may be only 400m long but packs in loads of features including 3 berms and loads of jump opportunities. It also sits just above the Mark of Zorro making this epic section even longer and better. Possibly the best in Wales.

The Summit Trail getting even bigger - Natural Resource Wales have made some fantastic new changes to their Summit mountain bike trail. It now includes all of the amazing singletrack that Bwlch Nant yr Arian has to offer including over 400m of a brand new fast flowing section. The length of the trail is now almost 20km, though those wanting an even bigger challenge should try our epic Syfydrin trail, which at 35km includes all of our singletrack and also some of the best technical, exposed and awesome riding in Wales.

Posted by hannaht at 15:09:59

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

BikePark Wales "Trail Crew on Call"
BikePark Wales take a light hearted look at life behind the scenes with their team of trail building experts as they keep your favourite trails in tip top shape during some challenging winter conditions.

Posted by hannaht at 17:33:02

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Enduro Season Kicks Off!

Race season began in earnest last weekend as Bike Park Wales hosted the One Industries Mini Enduro, which doubled up as the opening round of the Welsh Gravity Enduro Series.

And there’s a scant six days to recover before the enduro action continues, this time at Coed Trallwm trail centre in mid-Wales where Red Kite Events are laying on the first round of the Mondraker Enduro Series. Or you may prefer to take on Round 1 of the 2015 Welsh Enduro Series which takes place in the iconic Coed y Brenin MTB Trail Centre.

And there’s a scant six days to recover before the enduro action continues, this time at Coed Trallwm trail centre in mid-Wales where Red Kite Events are laying on the first round of the Mondraker Enduro Series. Or you may prefer to take on Round 1 of the 2015 Welsh Enduro Series which takes place in the iconic Coed y Brenin MTB Trail Centre.
Lewis Day

If you’re unfamiliar with the gravity-style enduro format, expect a series of timed, technical downhill sections, linked by untimed ‘transition’ stages. The rider with the shortest combined time for all the stages takes top step on the winners’ podium.

And to help you get your race face on, Hay-on-Wye based rider Lewis Day has taken some time out from training to come up with 5 top tips for enduro success.

Lewis - sponsored by his LBS, Drover Cycles - knows his stuff - he finished top dog competing last season over the border at Hopton in Shropshire.Over to Lewis - get your shred on!

1. Be prepared
Lay out everything you could possibly need for the weekend. I take pretty much all my riding kit (full-face helmet, jackets, goggles etc). We all know how unpredictable British weather can be so pack for any eventuality. Chances are the stage gnarl factor will also be unknown so take sufficient padding to cover all bases. Also pack a well-stocked tool box.

2. Fuel
There’s often not enough time to eat a complete meal during the race, so flapjacks, energy gels and the like are key to keep you going all day. A solid energy-biased breakfast is also very important. I favour lots of toast, bananas and lots of water come the morning of the race.

3. Timing
You will be allocated a start time for each stage, it’s quite important you keep to these (for most events at least). At some races you’ll be handed a sticker with this info which you can slap on your bike. Failing that, keep a note. I like to use a piece of Duck tape stuck to my top tube where I write my times with a marker pen. Obviously a watch is also handy.

4. Bike setup
In my opinion, some people get too hung up on bike set-up and bike choice, painstakingly tailoring them to each stage. I like to have a base set-up which I feel comfortable with all round, meaning I can concentrate on learning the stages. That way I know how the bike reacts in situation, and there are no nasty surprises. I might alter tyre pressures slightly but that’s all. As for bike choice, a mid travel (140-160mm) full-suspension bike is ideal. The jury is out on wheel size but my choice would be a 650b as it would cope well with most situations. Something like the Commencal Meta AM would be my preference.

5. Training
The best training for this style of event is to simply get as much bike time as you can on a variety of terrain. This will increase your fitness and also give you the skills to cope well with the different terrains you’ll encounter come race day. Fitness is obviously a key factor in Enduro racing so if you feel this is lacking, a Turbo Trainer is a vital tool.

Lewis Day on the number one spot.

Posted by hannaht at 17:42:03

Monday, 09 March 2015

Jumps & Drops with Katy Curd
Katy Curd, current world 4x champion, is at Oneplanet Adventure soon. She'll be sharing her wisdom and coaching her Ladies Jumps and Drops course.
This course is for you if;
  • You find yourself in the air, but want more control
  • Are looking to learn the techniques to safely and smoothly tackle jumps and drops
  • Want to learn how to overcome technical terrain
  • Pick up hints and tips from the fastest in the world
  • Are looking for a progress from and develop core skills 
Courses will run throughout 2015 on April 19th, May 29th and September 20th. Costs includes tuition in OAPs private skills areas, lunch and refreshments from their award winning cafe, video analysis / feedback and a OPA usb stick with all the videos from the day.

All dates can be booked hereLadies Jumps and Drops with Katy Curd

Posted by hannaht at 19:27:15

Wednesday, 04 March 2015

Mountain Bike Dirt Days at Cwmcarn
Mountain Bike Dirt Day at Cwmcarn Forest on Monday 30 March 2015, with world champion Manon Carpenter. For Welsh riders aged 13 – 16 who want to take their mountain bike skills to the next level and get into racing MTB XC. It's free but you must register. #ibikewales #mtb
Visit Welsh Cycling to find out more. 

Posted by hannaht at 15:05:16

Monday, 02 March 2015

The 2015 Welsh Enduro Series
Mike Marsden of Borderline Events and Adrian Bradley of Antur Stiniog are proud to bring you The 2015 Welsh Enduro Series.

The events will be held in the heart of Snowdonia, and in 3 of North Wales’ iconic Trail Centres, Coed y Brenin, The Marin Trail, and Penmachno. 

There will be 3 timed stages per event that will challenge both riders technical ability, and their fitness. All stages will be on existing Trail Centre trails and will suit everyone from novice first time racers to full on G.E. experts. Entry fee will be £39.50 for each round. No licence required to race, and no personal insurance needed although it is recommended. Full face helmets are recommended but not compulsory as are knee pads and body armour. The timing will be the same as the successful Penmachno Enduro last year with the dibber system, and the results will be instantly available on your return to H.Q.

The emphases will be on putting on a great event in a relaxed environment, and you will be able to ride, and race in a group of up to 8 of your friends with no restriction on riding with anyone from any category.

Entries are now live on the Borderline Events Website.

We would like to thank our Series Sponsors, Continental Tyres, Lapierre Bikes, and Alf Jones Cycles.

 Here is what Martin Astley at Lapierre had to say;
‘It's great to see a National Enduro series for Wales finally. There is no denying that Wales has some amazing riding and plenty of fast riders, so it is guaranteed to be a great series. The Lapierre Zesty and Spicy were made for this kind of riding so it was an obvious fit for us to come on board as a sponsor’.

We would also like to thank Antur Stiniog, Beics Brenin, JTech Suspension, and Purple Moose Brewery for Category prizes for all rounds.

Round 1: (Less than 90 places left) The Series kicks off on the 22nd home of Mountainbiking’ the iconic Coed y Brenin Mtb Trail Centre. We will have 3 great stages with a twist at the end of Stage 3 that not many riders will have ridden before, and will be a fantastic addition to an already awesome event.

Round 2 on the 31st  of May takes us to another thoroughbred, The Marin Trail in the Conway Valley. Stage 1 and 3 promises to be flat out descending whilst we will mix it up with Stage 2 with some technicality thrown in, fitness will be the key! Some nice additions have been made on the trails to keep more speed and get some air time, thanks to Mtb Ranger Andy Braund for keeping his finger on the pulse!

Round 3 on the 6th  of September will take us to another favourite, Penmachno Bike Trails. 2 new sections have been built recently and will be included, as well as a change to last years event with another section being used.

All events will be ridden in the morning prior to racing in the afternoon, and will be a 9-10mile loop at the 3 venues, with the timed sections ranging from 4-9 mins long so you better get training! You can book on at

There will be Trophy’s and prizes for the Top 3 in each Category, and both Mike and Myself look forward to welcoming you to what will be a fantastic

Posted by hannaht at 17:39:05

Friday, 27 February 2015

New Black trail “50 shades of black” at BikePark Wales
BikePark Wales announce their newest trail “50 shades of black”. It's their longest and gnarliest black trail to date with a classic Welsh mix of rock, roots and mud.

The trail is named 50 shades of black due to the varying surfaces, topography, trail style and vegetation all within this single trail. 50 shades uses an as yet unused part of the hill on the south side of the mountain. Opening on the 27th February 2015 the trail descends the full 280 metre vertical drop over its 1.8 kilometre length.

Additionally BikePark Wales will soon be opening a new pro-line section which peels off the lower slopes of 50 shades which will be known as “Join the dots”. This new pro-line option uses natural rock ledges and boulders to create step downs, hips and doubles that will test even the very best of riders.

Check out the video edit below showing Trek World Racing rider Laurie Greenland giving 50 shades of black a test session earlier this year.

Posted by hannaht at 16:22:35

Thursday, 05 February 2015

Welsh MTB Events for 2015
Holy Moly! There has been a positive boom in mountain biking events in recent years and 2015 is set to be the best yet. No excuses this year! There is simply something for everyone including downhill, enduro, cross country, bikepacking, multi-day, beer drinking and bog snorkelling. So check out the schedule, pop the date in your diary, sign yourself up and get training.

Here’s 4 events which are entirely new for this year;

  • The Coed y Brenin Antifreeze.A multi lap mountain bike event taking place in the majestic forests of Coed y Brenin Forest Park on March the 1st 2015.
  • The Welsh Gravity Enduro. The best of the Welsh trail centres all rolled into a 4 round Welsh Gravity Enduro Series. The dates of the 4 rounds have been decided and further info will be coming soon. Round 1 is on the 14th March 2015.
  • Epic Cymru. A multi day event aimed at the whole spectrum of riders, from XC to enduro. It includes both timed and non-timed XC and downhill sections in some of the countries best South Wales destinations over 5 awesome days between 15th - 19th of August 2015. There’s lots of things to do for the whole family too.
  • Cross Mountain.Taking place on the 9th November this year in South Wales. It involves CX bikers going head to head with mountain bikers on either 35km or 55km route options.

For a full list check out our Events Calendar. And if you have one to add just let us know via the contact form.


Posted by hannaht at 16:32:46

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