Where to ride
Spoiler alert, I haven’t ridden every single trail centre in the UK.
That said, it is my ambition to ride and video as many of them as I can. I have justified this to my family by saying “in order for me to offer real value to my audience on Instagram, Facebook and Youtube, I need to provide useful and fresh content”. For some reason, they seem to tolerate this excuse. Bonus!
Where have I ridden?
This is a quick rundown of the centres I have ridden the past:
- Coed Y Brenin
- Afan (South Wales)
- Coed Llandegla (North Wales)
- Innerleithen (Peebles)
Why ride a trail centre?
There are so many reasons to come to these places. If you are looking for hassle-free, maximum fun, for a predictable amount of time in the saddle, then trail centres are an obvious choice. Also, you don’t have to worry about planning a route or map reading, just turn up and ride!
As if that wasn’t enough, most of the centres I have ridden have been created by expert trail builders who have designed them not only to be fun but have built them in a way that they drain well. So in the Winter, you can still get a solid loop in with minimal mud and wear on your bike.
Here is a video of Coed Y Brenin from a few weeks ago. We rode ‘The Beast’ just after Storm Callum hit the UK and despite it being only hours since the weather front had passed, the trails were amazingly dry.
More reasons to ride trail centres
There are a few more for me. Firstly, if you don’t live too far away from one like me, you can go back and do the routes again and again. Each time you get a bit more pleasure from them because you can hit corners faster, float over those rock gardens you hesitated on and know that you’ll have a great ride in the bag after a couple of hours.
And finally, there is almost always a cafe and bike shop. Who wouldn’t want a brew and slice of cake to reward yourself and of course, your local bike shop always needs a bit of support.
Why I don’t always ride at trail centres?
Well, in life, too much of a good thing isn’t always that great. I recently rode Whinlatter (currently editing the video as we speak). It was great, I met a few other mountain bikers, the trail is lovely but it did lack a sense of adventure.
Later that week, I rode most of the Borrowdale Bash (again, I’ll link the video when I’ve done it). Setting off with a map in my bag into the Fells with no idea of what was to come meant when I did hit the 1st descent from Watendlath to Rosthwaite, I really was in my element. None of the trail centres I’ve ever ridden could offer a descent like that.
When you don’t know if you are quite good enough to get down without dabbing a foot or going over the bars, there is somehow a greater sense of achievement.
And then there are moments like this below just as the sun was rising. It felt like I was the only mountain biker in the Lake District.
I’m sure people will have strong opinions on both. If I’m honest, I love both trail centres and big days out in the hills. As I said at the start if you are looking for something predictable, fun, that drains well and has great facilities at the end, get yourself to a trail centre.
If you are looking for a bit of adventure, unpredictable conditions, hidden gems and quiet trails, then maybe you need to pull out an old school OS map and start planning!
For now here is another video of a cracking trail centre: