Check out the plans for BikePark Wales – it’s like a Whistler for trail riders!

Construction starts next month at BikePark Wales, and it sounds like it’s going to be awesome! This is no ordinary bike park, where you need a full-face helmet and balls of steel to roll down the start ramp. Instead it’s going to be aimed at regular riders and bikes, but with an uplift service to lessen uphill pain and maximise downhill gain – think of it like a Whistler for trail riders!

The centre at Gethin Woods near Merthyr Tydfil is due to open in the autumn if all goes to plan. And what a plan! The idea is that within five years there’ll be a massive 14 trails to suit all abilities. The build crew are going to have their work cut out though, so don’t expect anywhere near that number when the park first opens.

There’ll be 75 places on the uplift at weekends, which will run along a new access road. Other plans include a full-time trail crew to keep the singletrack shipshape, a visitor centre complete with cafe, bike shop, bike rental, Mojo suspension service centre and pump track, and it’s planned to develop the bike park into a centre of excellence for coaching too. Sounds like they’re onto a winner!

BikePark Wales trail map

Click to enlarge

What they’re saying about it

Building the trails at BikePark Wales is a dream job for Rowan Sorrell, of Back-On-Track, who’s always wanted to create a full-scale bike park. “We already have most of the trails plotted and there really is some great terrain on the hill,” he says. “We’ll have everything from blue trails to double black diamond, so whether you’re a complete novice or an elite downhill racer there’ll be something for you.”

“We’re aiming to do things a little differently,” says Anna Walters of BikePark Wales. “Most of the other facilities in the UK that offer uplift only cater to the elite downhill market. Of course, we’ll also have great trails for these guys but we want your average trail rider to be able to enjoy the benefits of uplift-accessed riding too. We’ll have myriad all-mountain, trail, cross-country and freeride trails that can all be accessed from the uplift.”

BikePark Wales visitor centre

The facts

Who’s behind it? BikePark Wales, a new business whose five directors are all experienced MTB industry folk. They’re being supported by Cognation (a partnership between Neath Port Talbot, Merthyr Tydfil and Caerphilly county borough councils and Forestry Commission Wales), who are also behind the new bike park at Afan Forest.

Who’s funding it? Half the bill’s being footed by the Convergence European Regional Development Fund, with the rest coming from BikePark Wales, its investors and sponsors. These include Mojo Suspension/Fox Racing Shox, Swift Credit, Shimano, Mountain Biking UK, iXS and Answer.

Who’s building it? Back-On-Track. The company’s owned by Rowan Sorrell, who’s previously worked on trails at Lee Quarry (Lancashire), Gawton (Devon), Llandegla (North Wales) and the Forest of Dean (Gloucestershire). He’s a director at BikePark Wales.

When will it open? “Autumn 2013″ – planning permission’s been granted and building’s due to start in February.

Will there be a trail for me? Roughly 40% of the trails will be blue-graded (‘moderate’), 30% red (‘difficult’) and 20% black (‘severe’), plus there’ll be a green (‘easy’) kids’ loop and top-to-bottom family trail. A few will be best suited to downhill bikes but most will be rideable on mid-travel trail bikes.

Where can I find out more? We’ll be bringing you all the latest news and videos here on ChopMTB. Here are some other useful links: