The Olympic heights of North Wales
British Cycling’s performance guru grew up in Snowdonia, and Dave Brailsford MBE is as passionate as ever about his mountain home. 'It's such an invigorating place,' he says. 'I never come back from North Wales without feeling better than I did when I arrived there.'
Perfect location for training
My father was an Alpine guide, and we moved to Deiniolen near the Llanberis Pass so he could climb. We local lads would ride our bikes to the foot of Snowdon and off we’d go, have a swim in the lake half way up. We knew the area like the back of our hands. It was a brilliant environment to grow up in.
My dad was also a keen cyclist. When I was growing up it was a key means of transport between the local villages. One thing led to another, and I started to get a passion for cycling and racing.
My mum still lives in North Wales, and every time I go back and see her, I always go for a ride around the roads I used to train on. I go out along the coast, up to Beddgelert, up the Nant Gwynant valley, down the Llanberis Pass, and back home again. It’s just brilliant.
I travel the world riding bikes, and there’s no better area for cycling, or a more stunning part of the world.
It’s such an invigorating place. I never come back from North Wales without feeling better than I did when I arrived there. You can do so much in the open air and everything’s so close. Let’s say you’re based in Llanberis or Caernarvon. You can go to the sea, or to the castles, or across to the fabulous beaches of Anglesey. You can go to the top of Snowdon, either walking or on the Snowdon Mountain Railway.
Family fun on and off the bike
There’s Pili Palas, the butterfly farm on Anglesey. You can go to Electric Mountain to learn about hydro-electric power at Dinorwig Power Station. Or go to Beddgelert and look at all the history and culture that surrounds the Welsh language and folklore. The variety of what you can do is fantastic.
If you want to get your family into cycling, the first thing is to ask yourself what you want to get out of it. Is it just a bit of fun, do you want to get fit and lose weight, or is it just to get the kids into it? Ask why you’re doing it and choose the mode of cycling which is most appropriate to that. Make sure you’ve got the right clothing on, and think about where you’re going to ride. I always like to ride to a certain spot, stop and have a cup of coffee, have a laugh and a joke, and ride back again. Having a destination or a purpose is way more fulfilling than just riding aimlessly.
Enjoy the roads and the locals
Llynnau Cregennan, Snowdonia
Wales is one of the most untapped areas of enjoyable cycling. It’s got the natural climbs, the environment, the lakes, the coast, the calm road conditions, the scenery - it’s just brilliant.
I’ll tell you one thing I really like, too: going into a local pub, and just sitting there having a pint and a chat with the locals. They’re such a funny bunch. Llanberis is a slate-mining area. Life was hard, and the way they dealt with that was by laughing, and they still have such a great sense of humour.
More attractions in North Wales