Although originating in Morzine, but now operating throughout the UK MTB Beds wants to shine the spotlight on how good the UK Mountain Bike scene is, and what better way than to hear from local guides about the areas that they call home.
Mountain biking in Wales is full of characters and industry experts. It’s been the spiritual home to the UK mountain biking scene for many years, and has so many iconic trail areas and races.
Wales is home to the Afan Valley, Cwmcarn, Coed y Brenin & the Rhayader Downhill Track, as well as now pushing the boundaries of UK bike parks and next level events, like Dyfi Bike Park, Revolution’s 50:01 jump line and the Red Bull Hard Line event, all putting Wales firmly on the Mountain Biking map in the UK.
One such industry insider now residing in North Wales is Steve Beech, owner of Wheelism and an MTB skills coach, mountain bike guide and Cytech Level 2 mechanic offering workshop courses.
Over to Steve Beech to discover what is so special about Mountain Biking in Snowdonia…
Climbing Snowdon at dawn
What brought you to Wales, and in particular Snowdonia?
It's a joy to live and ride here in southern Snowdonia – there's an incredible amount of trail with a wide variety of trail types to suit all levels and ambitions. I moved here from North Wales 12 years ago but have been riding in the area for 30 years as I have family living locally. In that time I've discovered miles and miles of amazing riding, but there is still plenty more to find and so it's impossible to get tired of riding here.
Wheelism is based in the valley at the foot of Cader Idris – the highest mountain in southern Snowdonia at 893m– and the trail up and down starts right from the door. After a massive climb and the ensuing views north across Snowdonia, there are rock-strewn fields, fast-rolling pony-tracks, and slip-sliding grasses – all making for an exhilarating descent back to the village for a well-earned pint in the Railway Inn. Heading out of the valley southwards takes you up into the Tarren range – Tarren y Gesail is the highest mountain in the range at 667m and at the top (after a steep push) you can look down on Dan Atherton's Dyfi Bike Park with its trails descending away into the Dyfi Valley.
Coed y Brenin Trail Centre - The first UK Trail Centre
Why is Snowdonia so good for Enduro mountain biking? And where should people visit?
Coed y Brenin is a well known Mecca for MTBing – the UK's first trail centre, it boasts over 100km of purpose-built singletrack, graded from green through to black – a perfect mix of trail to work with clients on skills development during coaching sessions, and all set within the beautiful Coed y Brenin forest with a beautiful river, spectacular waterfalls and old mine workings adding to the atmosphere. There are a plethora of other trails across the forest too, well away from the main trails and I love showing these hidden gems off to visiting riders.
Another favourite area is the Dyfi Forest, long time home to the Dyfi Enduro and the Climachx trail. The forest is littered with some of the gnarliest and most fun trails in the area. Technical and steep, fast and flowy, loamy, slatey – the forest has it all. The Climachx trail is well marked and easy to follow but to get the most out of the forest you'll want the assistance of a local guide. Most of the best trails are tucked away deep in the heart of the forest and there are no maps or signposts to follow. I've been riding in the Dyfi for nearly 30 years and have been lost there countless times – the place is vast!
Pont Scethin Loop in the sunshine
What about cross country mountain biking in Wales?
If it's more of a cross country vibe you're after then the Mach trails are excellent – lots of climbing, brilliant descents and incredible views across the Cambrian mountains. There's a huge network of bridleways south of Machynlleth too (aside from the waymarked Mach 1,2 and 3 trails) and so it's possible to guide for miles. A long-distance trip might head over the mountains to the Nant yr Arian trail network outside of Aberystwyth, or eastwards towards the English border – it's easy enough to clock up a 100km off-road trip here without any difficulty, and you're hardly likely to meet another soul on the way – the area is so huge and sparsely populated.
Guiding here is a pleasure and an honour. Knowing the area like the back of my hand means that I can tailor rides to suit my clients, whether they're looking for long days and big miles, or just a quick and dirty blast of some of the hidden enduro trails. The beauty and majesty of Snowdonia always serves as a stunning backdrop to any ride here, no matter what the weather. The mountains, the valleys, the forests, rivers and trails add up to a perfect total of mountain biking goodness, and I consider it a privilege to be able to share it with new riders to the area.
MTB Beds: Thanks Steve - Wheelism
Wales is a Mountain Biking heaven
Mountain Biking in Wales really is an epic destination for weekend mountain biking trips in the UK. It has steep, rocky, rooty descents, leg-burning climbs up Snowdon and long flowing singletrack back down and scenic cross country loops with views for miles, all followed by warm hospitality and MTB friendly accommodation. There’s the vast openness of Snowdonia National Park or Brecon Beacons National Park, or the steep woodland of the south Wales valleys. Wales really is a mountain bikers playground.