Work has already started on a green trail, expected to be over 5km in length and we reckon the only uplifted green trail in the UK.
Every mountain biker has heard of BikePark Wales, and by and large, everyone who wants to go there, goes. The UK’s biggest bike park has something of a problem then, like the iPhone it has reached saturation point where the only way to keep growing is to do something different.
Which way to turn then? Revolution Bike Park, Antur Stiniog and now Dyfi Bike Park are pushing North Wales firmly towards the gnarlier end of mountain biking. Great for them, the trails are excellent, but the higher up the pyramid of mountain biking skill you get, the smaller the number of riders who can and want to go.
Easier trails? BikePark Wales has spent seven years capturing its core market of proper mountain bikers, people like us who love the challenges of red, blue and black trails, and it’s not about to throw away that core market, says BPW’s Martin Astley.
“If we sit back and decide to stop building trails for that core group of riders then it won’t be long before others catch up,” he says. “So we always have to keep moving forward just to stand still, and that applies to the existing riders we have. Next year we’ll be building more blue, red and black trails.”
Message received, you can expect more of the same from BPW. There’s a third way though — keep the core, but expand into non-mountain biker territory. Build trails for people trying riding for the first time, for families to have their first MTB experience. Build welcoming facilities like changing rooms, toilets, and a classroom to learn the basics. Bring in budget-friendly hire bikes that won’t frighten newbies with the cost of regular bikes. But still give them access to the uplift so they aren’t put off by the climb.
You’ve probably already guessed, but this is the new direction for BPW. The new Green trail is beginner friendly, with a mellow gradient, but it’ll be a proper mountain bike trail and still fun for experienced riders, Martin says.
“Our green trail is not going to be like Afan’s,” Martin says. “There will be tight bits through the trees. It’ll have rollers, bermed corners, and modest rock features. In short, it will be a real mountain bike trail.”
It’s not just a green trail BPW is adding though, there will be better facilities for all riders at BPW, housed in a new Visitor Welcome Centre. You’ll check in and get changed there, and there’s a new bike hire station and workshop, and even a classroom to give new riders an introduction to mountain biking. Then there’s a bigger patio planned and more bike washing facilities coming too, all very civilised.
The green trail and better facilities go hand in hand, Martin says, and that’s why it’s taken seven years to get the green going despite having planning permission during all that time.
“Your hardcore mountain biker doesn’t really mind if they have to get changed in the car park, and that there are few toilets and showers,” Martin says. “But if you’re attracting new riders they have greater expectations. We didn’t want people to come in and try mountain biking and have a bad experience, these are people who might have played golf and now want to try riding.”
So BikePark Wales is set to be taken over by golfers, school parties and commercial red-letter days? Not exactly, Martin says, regular mountain bikers are still the focus of BikePark Wales, and the park will still be geared towards them.
Martin says the red, blue and black trails to come in 2020 aren’t finalised, but there are there’s a choice of five or size different lines to build on. By the time you read this the new green will be under construction and you can expect to ride it and use the new facilities by late April next year. If ever there was an opportunity to get your non-riding friends and family into the spot, then this is it.