This time last week I had just returned home from a highly enjoyable weekend in northern Wales, which saw me saddle up on a mountain bike for what must have been the first time in almost 10 years. Located within Snowdonia National Park, Coed y Brenin Forest Park, which is said to be the biggest and best mountain biking trail centre in Wales, provided the setting for my re-introduction to cycling off road. Mountain Biking in Coed y Brenin, lets do this!
I used to love cycling, I really did. As a kid, and even a teenager my bike meant freedom and therefore pretty much everything to me. With a little bit of leg work I could get almost anywhere, and cycling also allowed for a large amount of independence in that it led me to my first ever job as a paperboy (gotta start somewhere). For beginners getting started on a mountain bike can be terrifying but once you get the hang of it that’s when the fun starts.
Of course things changed slightly when I hit 17 and the option of learning to drive became available to me, and once I passed my test the bike that once was my key to getting out and about, was relegated to the garage and dust collection.
Thinking about it now, I kinda feel bad for my bike.
Coed y Brenin
Coed y Brenin was the first forest in the UK to be developed for the sport of mountain biking and to this day its purpose built trails, tracks and visitor centre retain its reputation as the sports premier location.
At Coed y Brenin riders have a wide range of trails and tracks from which to choose, and all ability levels are catered for, and new tracks are in planning, so the centre is only going to get bigger and better.
Should you not have your own bike and helmet, it’s not a problem as the shop on site will be happy to sort you out a rental number – that’s our group did.
Rental prices start at …
- Adults – £18.00 for a 3 hour afternoon rental, or £25.00 for the whole day.
- Children – £5.00 for a 2 hour rental, or £10 for the whole day.
If on the other hand you do own your own wheels and are an established rider, the newly built skills park might turn your head and encourage you to venture to north Wales.
Parking on site is free, and the visitors centre both a gift shop and cafe, alongside changing and shower facilities. You do have to pay for the showers though,£1 for 3 minutes worth of water, so be quick!
Mountain Biking in Coed y Brenin
So I was back in the saddle, and quickly I realised one thing I really don’t miss about cycling, how ridiculously uncomfortable it can be! My my sore backside aside, everything else about it felt like a triumphant return to my youth. The buzz of cycling was back.
Truth be told I’ve wanted to get back into cycling for a while now. Ever since the London Olympics, cycling in the UK has really really gained in popularity, and on top of the great successes in the sport by our Olympians, people across the nation are also in racing both the health benefits of cycling, and the cost difference when compared to driving. Add to that the green effect of cycling, and it’s a wonder why London doesn’t closer resemble somewhere like Copenhagen or Amsterdam.
Now I obviously realise that mountain biking and road racing are two very different sports, but the premise of cycling in any way, shape or form is what I’ve missed, and what I was glad to return to in north Wales. It took a minute or two to get used the sharpness of the disk breaks and the POD gear system, but soon enough I was hurtling/crawling along the designated tracks of Coed y Brenin.
I’m pretty pleased to be able to tell you that there were no accidents over the course of 2 hours peddle pummelling. My legs were tired by the end of the session, and certainly ached the next day, but all my limbs were in tact, despite a few hairy moments where the slippery and uneven terrain almost got the better of me. Luckily I was able to maintain my balance (and dignity) and stay upright along the two tracks our group rode. They were the Minor Taur and Cyflym Coch tracks.
“This trail aims to introduce new mountain bikers to ‘singletrack’ off road cycling. It bridges the gap at Coed y Brenin between forest road mountain biking and the red grade ‘difficult’ trails.”
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Suitable For: Intermediate cyclists, basic mountain biking skills
- Trail Surface: Small obstancles such as roots and rocks
- Gradients: Moderate
- Suggested Fitness: Good standard
“Starting down Yr Afon Trail, Cyflym coch cuts left up a short technical climb onto Pinderosa. It then pieces together the best of Coed y Brenin’s fast and flowing trail sections. Climbs are relatively short and the rewards are great riding entertainment.”
- Difficulty: Difficult
- Suitable For: Proficient mountain bikers with good off road skills
- Trail Surface: Very variable, steeper and tougher than the MinorTaur
- Gradients: Wide range and of a challenging nature
- Suggested Fitness: High level
Left: A sign post depicting the 7 different tracks available
Above: Shameless mountain biking selfie.
Although the two tracks were highlighted as being of different difficulties, I found the main difference between the two was the increased amount of uphill cycling required along the Cyflym Coch track.
Uphill cycling is not my friend!
Aside from the uphill effort though, each of the two tracks were extremely enjoyable. The two hours we spent in the saddle were certainly hard work, but the Dream Time section of the Cyflym Coch tracks made it all worth while. Check out the video below and you’ll see what I mean. Dream Time is covered in the last 1.5 minutes.
GoPro Still Shots
So here’s just a quick couple of still photos from my GoPro. Watching the video below will give you a much clearer idea of out mountain biking experience.
Where is Coed y Brenin?
While Visit Wales covered the cost of my mountain biking experience, they did not request a favourable review and all of the opinions included in this article are my own.