….is Revolution Bike Park or as it’s more commonly known, ‘Revs’
It’s one of the best downhill bike parks around and is where the world’s best downhillers come to practice. Revs is owned, built and run by brothers James and Tim Foster. Seeing a gap between family friendly trails centres and something for the more experienced rider they bought the land about 9 years ago and ploughed (pardon the pun) everything they had into building the park. A labour of love or probably more accurately, a battle with mud, lead and planning departments. But that’s another story. If you do bump into either of them, ask about their latest toilet project. Honest, it’s fascinating and you wouldn’t believe how difficult it could be to find water to flush toilets in one of the wettest parts of the country.
100 acres of woodland and 300m of vertical descent
10 trails taking in Red (Advanced), Black (Expert) and Purple (Proline)
12 miles from Ty Beic, about a 25 minute drive
Open Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays 10am – 4pm
Uplift only (no riding up)
The best coffee between here and Oswestry. According to Tim.
It’s been 6 months since my last mountain bike ride as my last attempt resulted in an unplanned dismount and a broken thumb. Pain, lack of control (nothing new there) but mainly fear has kept me off off road and on on road ever since. Richard found a sneaky local loop which has tempted me back. 1 1/2 road miles from Ty Beic, a mile long with 200 feet of climbing and a gradual ascent and gentle singletrack descent. Nothing technical and can be ridden all year round. Ideal. Ride it multiple times at speed and it’s a good workout. Perfect for a quick morning spin before anyone else is out of bed or a gentle evening ride before bed.
I first road it last week in snow and ice and again yesterday in mud. I prefer the snow. If Eleanor isn’t too brutal I may go again today.
Shameless marketing warning, if you want to try it for yourself it’s only £65 per night (£32.50 per person) to stay during January to March and there are further discounts if you are a Singletrack magazine subscriber.
“It’s always nice here in September – the trails pretty much reach their best by then”
I said this in late June to friend who has visited us quite a few times at Ty Beic in North Wales. Taking me at my word, he booked to stay for a week in September. Cue the wettest July, August and September that we can remember. Oh dear.
Well, not all bad. This was a sort of test of our experiment of moving to Bala – the thesis that there is varied year-round riding whatever the weather. Certainly, the natural riding wasn’t going to be very rewarding unless wrestling your bike out of a sucking bog is a favourite part of your XC action. But…
We have trail centres galore – and each one has its own character. Penmachno is always wet – but when I joined Paul for the two loops the water was in deep standing puddles. Luxury! You know Penmachno is really wet when the puddles join up and the whole trail is flowing – not in the overused flowy sense but in the having an actual watery current sense. It was a glorious day – we got wet from below and sunburnt from above.Llandegla – mucky but only a light spray of filth. Sort of filth that looks like it’s been sprayed onto new bikes for a photoshoot. I hadn’t ridden here for ages and I had forgotten how much fun it can be.Coed y Brenin – quite a few times. All rideable in all its majesty and the bike came back cleaner than it went out.A quick blast round Brenig and Alwen reservoirs – often overlooked round here as there’s minimal (no) gnar, but taken at speed it’s a pretty thrash round some large bits of water (rather than through it).Paul also picked a couple of outliers – he made the trip from Bala to Nant yr Arian, which he seemed to enjoy and also took a spin along the Llangollen Canal to Chirk, taking in the World Heritage site of the Pontcysyllte Aquaduct. He topped off his week here with a rip round Cannock Chase on the way home to Essex.So in spite of my useless advice and the crap weather Paul still crammed well over 150 miles of offroad riding into his six days here. Not bad. The experiment in all year round rideability is proving worthwhile.
Yep, it’s started, we’ve begun work on the long awaited Ty Beic bike track. Take your mind off politics for a few moments and have a look what we’ve been doing in our field (the very steep one).
As most things do, it’s starts at the top and then goes quickly downhill. Before you know it you’re at the bottom of the field and hitting a berm which in theory should propel you towards the top. Hmmm. And then the fun really starts with a tight and twisty climb. The test pilot did discover that maybe some of the turns are a bit too steep and a bit too tight or maybe a 35mm stem really is just too short. There’s work to be done here.
We are full in June but we still have gaps in July and August if you fancy giving it a test ride or even lending a hand. Prices per cottage are £80 a night or £475 a week and there are discounts if you are a Singletrack Subscriber. We don’t charge for digging.
Begin with four bikes and three dogs. Add dry dusty trails and sneaky singletrack. Throw in some big views and empty landscapes. Add lashings of sunshine and a dash of Welsh beer and cider, combine with lots of enthusiasm. The result is two satisfied customers, three tired dogs and two very happy hosts.
*If I was the kind of “dude” who used such words, but it was thoroughly pleasant nevertheless.
There is so much great riding to be had in North Wales that I tend to avoid the tourist honeypots, Snowdon in particular. Putting my prejudices aside, I decided to join Tom from Carbon Monkey for a guided ride up Wales’ highest peak. Driving to the start at Llanberis, I followed a bloke driving at 15mph down the pass videoing the spectacle on his phone as he went. Prejudices restored.
What happened next, however, made me realise how silly I had been to shun this popular destination. It’s a big mountain and there is plenty of room for everyone. If it’s solitude you want then this isn’t the place for you (at least not at 1pm on a Saturday in April), but if you like a mix of grindy and techy climbing (with a little pushing) followed by some very flowy and then nadgery (with a hint of gnar) descending with brilliant views (if the cloud clears) and a great sense of achievement thrown in then it might be for you.
We took the Llanberis path up to the summit, with a plan to come back down the Ranger’s path. When it started to snow halfway up the plan changed and it became an out and back trip on the Llanberis path. In truth I was a bit disappointed as I’m not normally a fan of retracing my tracks, but it was a good call from Tom given the weather and I shouldn’t have worried – the descent was brilliant.
The mountain was busy with lots of people walking and running. I had feared that the non-cycling mountaineers might resent our presence but I needn’t have worried – there was a lot of good humour and encouragement all round, although quite often the cheery rambler was stood exactly on ‘my line’. Nevermind, it all added to spice. Hats off to my other riding companion, Graham, who opted to trial his way down the mountain, hopping from rock to rock.
As we climbed towards the summit, the snow stopped falling and the skies cleared to reveal views in every direction. I’ve walked and run up Snowdon quite a few times, but this was the first time I can remember actually having a view from the top – I just thought it was always cloudy up there. It wasn’t a disappointment.
How wrong I was to have avoided this ride for so long. It has a bit of everything for the mountain biker, with many more options of routes than the one we did. It’s got an epic quality because it is a proper pointy mountain, but if the weather does turn truly nasty then you can be back eating an all-day breakfast in Llanberis within 20 minutes (perhaps even with a cheeky San Miguel), looking at photos of yourself on the summit. Nice.
Thanks to Tom from Carbon Monkey for his quietly reassuring guiding and for busting another of my prejudices (bred of bad experiences in earlier life) against shouty, ego-driven outdoor types.
MB Wales has made a film about mountain biking in Wales. From trail centres, epic downhills, natural trails and family rides, it manages to convey in just over 5 minutes the incredible variety of riding to be enjoyed in Wales. It would be rude not to share.
It’s been a very wet winter here. I’m not complaining – we haven’t been flooded out of our home unlike a lot of people, but it has meant that the natural riding has been pretty much out of bounds. But every now and again the sun shines brightly and the landscape is transformed. And I’m reminded that summer is not that far away.
Walking the dog the other day, the sun came out and the shadow suddenly revealed all the sheep trails criss-crossing the hill. I’ve suddenly discovered a new series of trails for when things are a bit drier. This stuff is so narrow it’s not even singletrack – more semitrack, giving just enough to ride across the steep hillside.
Ever fancied conquering the highest peak in England and Wales, by bike?
STOP PRESS Only two places left
Snowdon, as everyone knows, is our highest mountain and a magnet for hill walkers, climbers and mountain bikers. Sometimes it is smothered in dense cloud or a blanket of deep snow. At other times it is bathed in glorious sunshine revealing staggering, awe inspiring views across the National Park and North Wales. A journey to it’s peak is a true adventure unlike anything other and one that a mountain biker will remember for a very long time. But it is a proper mountain with terrain and weather to match and needs to be treated with respect.
We have teamed up with our friends at Carbon Monkey* to offer a guided ride to the summit and back. Enjoy an epic adventure in the knowledge that you’ve got the backup and support of a local professional MTB guide to take you down the best lines, help out with any mechanicals, get the best photos and make sure you get to the top and back in one piece.
Here’s a rough edit from Carbon Monkey’s trip last October to give you a taster…
At the end of an epic day return to Ty Beic for a hot shower, enjoy a beer or two on your terrace (while gazing at the Berwyns, good riding there too) and then collapse into “a very large, very comfortable bed” (not our words). We are giving you a late check out on Sunday – 12noon rather than 10am. Spend the morning relaxing or squeeze in a cheeky ride, if you’ve still got the energy, before heading home to plan your next adventure.
The Snowdon Adventure takes place on Saturday 23 April. Two nights accommodation for two at Ty Beic (22 and 23 April) and two places on Carbon Monkey’s ‘the Welsh Classic’ costs £250**. There are only four places available so get in touch quickly to secure your place by completing the form below.
man, dog and Berwyns
enjoy a beer or two on your private terrace
or from inside your cottage
what about that for a view?
superking, super comfy bed
single or super kingsize beds, your choice
*Carbon-Monkey is a specialist MTB skills course provider running mountain bike courses in North Wales, the Lake District, Peak District, Scotland and on Cannock Chase.
** Please get in contact for longer stays and prices excluding the Snowdon trip for non cycling partners.