The Mighty Hills of Wales: A Cyclist’s Paradise
Nucleus, April 28, 2012
When the surf is flat but the sun is still shining, us Welsh outdoor fanatics get out our bikes and hit the road, or the mountains – depending on how energetic we’re feeling! Wales is a cyclist’s dream and offers world class routes for all levels of riders, both on and off road. From hidden forest dirt jumps to challenging hill climbs with breathtaking scenery, Wales literally has it all.
Here are our top 3 Welsh riding destinations!
Afan Forest Park – It’s Mighty Mighty
Over recent years more and more cyclists have been heading to the mighty Afan Forest. There are 14 rugged cycle routes, which vary difficulty, and there is something for all levels of riders. Its recent listing in What Mountain Bike Magazine, as one of the “Top 10 Places to Ride”, has seen the spot get a lot busier. However, even at its peak, the scale of the various routes means that you will always find enough space to work up a good sweat and enjoy your ride.
“The 9,000 acres of Afan Forest (Afan Argoed) is a paradise for mountain bikers – recently described as one of the 10 best places to ride before you die” The Guardian
Avoid the “easier” routes on bank holidays and weekends – the harder the route level, the less people there are on it. But don’t forget, ride to your limits, you won’t get far with a broken leg/arm!
Road Riding Across the Brecon Beacons – The Challenge of a Life Time
Personally, I prefer riding down hills than up them but some of my colleagues go out of their way to inflict as much pain on themselves as possible. The Brecon Beacons are infamous with Welsh cyclists and offer a truly rewarding challenge for those that want to push themselves. The routes are colour coded and the different colours show the different grades of difficulty. Yellow, Green, Blue, Red and of course, the hard as nails, killer black route.
Although the Brecon Beacons can be conquered in a day, it really is worthy of more time. I would suggest spending a long weekend enjoying the various routes and all that the sleepy surrounding towns have to offer. Public transport is available for bikes on the Beacons Bike Bus on Sundays and bank holiday Mondays.
As with all beautiful roads, the Brecon Beacon attracts a large amount of motorcycle and car enthusiasts who enjoy tearing up the roads and taking in the views. At high speeds and on twisty roads, cyclists should take extra precautions to make themselves easily visible, even in clear conditions.
Swansea Bay to Mumbles – Ice-cream, Sunshine and Happiness
What can I say about the Swansea to Mumbles coastal cycle track? On a sunny day, with the scent of homemade ice-cream and freshly roasted coffee, you would be forgiven for thinking you were on the French Riviera. The flat and easy track hugs the coast all the way from Swansea Marina to the beautiful Fishermans’ village of Mumbles. It’s not exactly the ultimate in cycling endurance but it offers enough to get the heart pumping and the smile grinning.
Be sure to stop at the almost hidden ice-cream parlour half way between Swansea and Mumbles. It’s called Ripples Cafe and has been providing authentic Italian ice-cream and coffee for as long as I can remember (the mint-choc-chip is a personal favourite). Of course, if you do have to cycle back to Swansea city centre to get your car, you should probably grab your second cappuccino from the award winning Holbrook’s Coffee House – It would be rude not to!
When Ben isn’t finding big hills to ride down (or avoid) you’ll find him working at South Wales’ biggest retailer of skate shoes – Nucleus Surf Shop