A Visit To Bike Park Wales
The more I ride mountain bikes, the more I love them. But curiously for someone who really likes gruelling road rides, I’m not that into riding cross-country – it’s just too much hard work and far too slow and I much prefer riding down or along a hill rather than dragging my ass very slowly up one. I’ll ride up hills to access more trails, but it’s a means to an end rather than part of the journey. If I want a hard slog, I’ll jump on the road bike, saving mountain bikes for pure pleasure alone. Well, that’s in theory.
In reality, I live in Devon rather than Whistler, so I do end up riding some XC and some back-breaking climbs, all in eager pursuit of descents. The area where I live is absolutely cracking for riding so I shouldn’t complain, but every now and then it’s time for a taste of the highlife; an entire day pinning trail after trail without even raising my seat.
Sunday was one of those special days. I’d booked the uplift at Bike Park Wales several months ago as my birthday present to myself. My idea of a luxury treat is getting absolutely covered in mud and ferried up a hill.
For those of you who haven’t been, Bike Park Wales is a relatively new development up the valley from Cardiff. A carefully sculpted mountain biker’s paradise, the ‘resort’ is filled with really long runs that each have their own characteristics, with trails graded from Blue (easiest) to black (hardest). The trails are extremely well thought out and well maintained, with everything from super fun flowing berms and brain-jittering rock gardens to rocks, drops, roots, mud and more. You can ride up to the start of the all the runs, in fact we did that last time, but this being my birthday treat we didn’t have to!
In the days preceding our visit I kept checking the forecast and hoping the weather wouldn’t be rotten, but after a few dry runs in the morning it did turn a bit crappy. It would have been slightly better if I could have seen where I was going in the afternoon – we had to stop and wipe thick mud and rain from our goggles several times on each run – but it didn’t stop me from having a great time. Actually, speaking of times, according to Strava I came 7th out of around 300 women on some of the runs, woohoo! (I won’t show up on on the rankings though, as I’m set to private for various reasons).
I was riding the Juliana Furtado, which is simply the best all-mountain machine in the entire goddam world, and she was absolutely perfect for Bike Park Wales’ terrain. In my opinion, a full on DH rig would be a bit much, as there are some pedally bits and a lot of it isn’t crazy steep, but having said that, I wouldn’t mind trying one on some of the blacks just out of curiosity. Actually, I wouldn’t mind trying a triple clamp bike in general, seeing as I never have.
Now I’m back from Wales, I’m busy planning my next adventure, and I’m honestly finding it hard to decide whether to spend a summer week in the Alps, or just potter on up to check our more of Wales’ fine trail centres seeing as I never seem to find time to do that. Where are you favourite places to ride in the UK?