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Is Wales the best place in the world to cycle?

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When thinking of cycling holidays, most of us immediately drop tools, pack up the bike box and head as far away from UK shores as possible. As I write this, it’s late May 2024, I’m wearing a fleece and will likely have to wear a waterproof jacket later. Yes. Welsh weather at its finest. So I get the rationale behind escaping the UK during winter, that’s fair enough.

But, you know what, when the high pressure weather systems roll in and the big yellow thing in the sky does make an appearance, I think Wales is one of the best places in the world to go bike riding. Here’s why

Brilliant Bike parks

Wales has long had some of the bike mountain biking trails in the world. Whether you’re a novice xc rider or keen to tackle some hard downhill, Wales has more trails than you could shake a stick at.

Bike park wales

Located in the heart of the South Wales Valleys, BikePark Wales is one of the premier mountain biking destinations in the UK. It offers a wide range of trails, from beginner-friendly green runs to expert-level black and pro lines. The park features uplift services, hire bikes and a lovely café!

 

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Dyfi Bike Park

For the seasoned mountain biker, Dyfi Bike Park has to be on your radar. With trails sculpted by none other than welsh legend, Dan Atherton, Dyfi Bike Park has to be one f the best locations to ride in the world

 

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Coed y brenin

Coed y Brenin was the first forest to be developed for the sport of mountain biking and to this day holds its head high as  one of Wales ‘premier mountain biking locations

With breath-taking scenery, views across to Cadair Idris, wild rivers, glaciated valleys and an expanse of forest, good times are guaranteed

Iconic climbs

Road cycling in Wales is tough, yet brilliant. Dramatic coastlines? Check. Rolling countryside? Check. Challenging mountainous terrain? You bet.

Mid and North wales are your best bet if you enjoy scenic routes through national parks like Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons as they offer a mix of steep climbs and exhilarating descents. Sure, the road surfaces aren’t quite as silky smooth as your typical Mallorcan climb but with some of the most beautiful view of Wales at your disposal, who cares!

The Bwlch mountain, south Wales

 

Gravel Gravel Gravel

Gravel riding in Wales is probably one of the best ways to explore the country’s stunning and varied landscapes. With its mix of rugged mountains, serene forests, rolling hills, and picturesque coastlines, Wales provides an extensive network of trails that are perfect for gravel riding. National parks like Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons feature a blend of challenging climbs and scenic routes, while areas like the Clwydian Range and Coed y Brenin offer well-maintained forest tracks and bridleways.

One of the most popular events is the North wales Gravel X event which serves as an excellent introduction to gravel racing. The relatively flat course winds around stunning lakes and reservoirs, providing scenic and enjoyable rides for participants.

The Traws Eryri trail n North Wales
Phot credit: Cycling UK/ Phill Stasiw

If racing isn’t your thing and fancy some bike packing, how about a 200km off road adventure I North Wales-the Traws Eryri?

With over 4,000 meters of climbing, this route is not for the faint-hearted. However, if you’re up for the challenge, the rewards are immense. You’ll experience exhilarating descents with miles of breath-taking views and a sense of isolation only broken by the warm hospitality of the villages you pass through.

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Amazing events

Long course Weekend

Thinking about tackling an Ironman distance triathlon but not sure you’re quite ready for it? Enter the Long Course Weekend, where you can conquer the ‘full distance’ spread across three days. With stunning landscapes, enthusiastic crowds, and an expo featuring over 50 stands, this event is not your typical triathlon. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or an everyday athlete aiming for something extraordinary, this event caters to all abilities.

view of Tenby during Long Course Weekend 202

 

Battle on the Beach

The organisers describe Battle on the Beach as the “UK’s most unique and largest off road cycle event”. It’s hard to argue with them on this front-A truly unique mass start bunch race made up of 3 laps totalling approximately 45km. The race starts off on a 5km wide open expanse of beach which means that echelons can form very quickly and positioning being critical for a good result. Once off the hard packed sand, it’s over the dunes and into the woods for some epic singletrack.

 

Ironman Wales

The biggest triathlon of the year in Wales is undoubtedly IM Wales. A challenging yet breath taking course set against the stunning backdrop of Pembrokeshire.

No Ironman event could be defined as easy, however Ironman Wales certainly falls towards harder end of the spectrum, both physically and mentally. Athletes have to navigate a demanding course that includes a challenging swim in the pristine waters of Tenby’s North Beach, a scenic but punishing bike ride through the picturesque Pembrokeshire countryside, and a challenging run that takes participants through the historic town and along the spectacular coastline. What makes the event so special, is the electric atmosphere and the amount of support the athletes get along the way.

 

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Spectator special-Redbull Hardine

Made up of the crème de la crème of riders in the world, the Redbull Hardline will return this summer to what is frequently and justifiably referred to as the hardest downhill race out there.

The enormous mountain terrain is littered with terrifying features including vast gaps, rock sections, huge step downs and wheel shattering drops big enough to warrant parachutes.

Often hailed as the toughest downhill race out there, adding high wind would have added a fourth dimension of invisible danger whereby the risks were simply outweighing reward. The vast mountain terrain is riddled with daunting features, including expansive gaps, rocky sections, massive step-downs, and drops sizable enough to consider parachutes.

 

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The people

We couldn’t write an article about Wales without mentioning the people.

In Wales, there’s a genuine emphasis on friendliness and helping others, which is reflected in the way locals greet strangers and support their neighbours. It doesn’t matter where you are from, you’ll always be given a warm reception and treated like a local. Iechyd Da!

Welsh coastline

To conclude, with a dash of bias and a liberally decadent reduction of impartiality, Wales has all of the ingredients to offer some of the best cycling areas on earth. Sure, you can go higher, you can go hotter, you can go steeper and you can go longer, but you can’t get closer. Ifs you haven’t yet visited, what are you waiting for?! Adventure awaits on your doorstep!

 

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