If, like me, you’ve been inspired by team GB’s performance in the velodrom during the London Olympics, you might want to consider bringing your bikes along when you next visit North Wales. Here’s a couple of places for you to consider.
Coed Y Brennin
Probably the best mountain biking centre in the UK. Miles and miles of rugged trails with fantastic names like ‘Beast of Brennin’, ‘Dragons Back’ and ‘Minour Tour’. The trails are colour coded according to difficulty similar to ski slopes. So all abilities can be confident of having a great time. All the trails start and finish from the new eco visitor centre just south of Trawsfynydd on the A470. There’s a nice café there, a well stocked spares shop, bike wash facilities and shower cubicles. Bikes can also be hired from the very nice people at Beics Brennin.
The Mawddach Trail is the perfect choice for a family outing out on a summer’s day. Running along a disused railway track that follows the River Mawddach as it lazily winds it way from Dolgellau to the seaside town of Barmouth. There are fabulous views right along the route and the path itself is well maintained and marked. I’d suggest stopping off at the George III for a bit of refreshment along the way. Bikes can be hired at Dolgellau Cycles.
Not for the faint hearted this one. Newly developed downhill trails offer a unique adrenalin rush for visitors to the centre in Blaenau Ffestiniog. For a reasonable fee, a minibus and purpose built trailer will whisk you and your bike up to the top of the mountain before depositing you at the start of several carefully designed and graded downhill trails. Take a moment to marvel at the view across the Glaslyn valley before you set off down the trail of your choice. The buss will be waiting for you at the bottom to take you back up. Assuming you’re still in one piece.
Lon Las Cymru
Lon Las Cymru (The Blue Route of Wales) is otherwise know as ‘National Cycle Route 8’, but that’s not nearly as romantic. The route runs form Cardiff in the south, all the way up to Holyhead on Anglesey in the North. 250 miles altogether but don’t worry, you don’t have to do it all. Some of the nicest parts of the route are naturally found in Snowdonia. Route Maps and guides are surprisingly difficult to get hold of. Sustrans attempt to fill he gap but a standard OS map might be your best bet.
Betws Y Coed
The famous Marin Trail at Betws Y Coed has been joined by a new and equally superb trail, Penmachno. Forest roads are combined with some superb flowing single track to provide a challenging and exhilarating route around one of the most beautiful parts of the national park. Both routes can be joined at Betws Y Coed, a bustling little village which plays host to some superb outdoor pursuit shop as well as numerous cafés and pubs. Trust me, you’ll need a drink afterwards.
North Wales Triathlons
North Wales plays host to a number of triathlons. The Slateman Triathlon held in May starts in Llanberis at the foot of Snowdon with a 1000m swim across Llyn Padarn, a 51km cycle through the spectacular Ogwen Valley and a 11km trail run over Dinorwig Slate Quarry. The Sandman Triathlon involves swimming in the sea off Anglesey, a cycle route along the west coast of the island finishing with a trail run back along the beach. A middle distance Tri is also held in Bala and a well-supported sprint Tri is held at Harlech every year.
Don’t forget, you don’t have to have the legs as Chis Hoy or the determination of the Brownlee brothers to enjoy the above. But wouldn’t it be great if a family holiday in North Wales inspired the next Bradley Wiggins or Laura Trott.