Neil Donoghue’s top places to go mountain biking
Neil Donoghue tells us how he has travelled the world riding bikes as a pro mountain biker but why he's always happy to return to Wales to ride our exceptional trails.
Mountain biking playground
When I was younger I saved up all my paper round money to buy myself a BMX or a motocross bike but my school friends convinced me to buy a mountain bike instead. Within 2 weeks I had entered a downhill race at the local woods. I later became the junior national champion and the rest is history.
For me, living just over the border in Shropshire, Wales became the place for riding trips with friends to well established centres like Coed-y-Brenin, Coed Llandegla or Nant y Arian.
Then for a more adventurous experience I would go to Penmachno, which always evoked a great feeling of being in the wilderness where few others venture. Not so far from civilisation as to be unable to reap the benefits of a much needed coffee and cake at the Conway Falls Cafe.
Wales has always played a special part in mountain biking; it is home to the UK’s first trail centre, Coed-y-Brenin and has a variety world class riding locations within easy reach of most of the UK. Awesome!
Wales mountain biking - from families to professional riders
Mountain Biking, Sennybridge Route, Brecon Beacons
The great aspect of mountain biking in Wales is the variety of it. Even for a well seasoned mountain biker like myself I have the choice of going somewhere I know will be a good fun ride to test my fitness on safe trails or somewhere I can test my riding ability on big technical descents.
From families to professional riders, Wales provides great locations and thrills for the whole spectrum of abilities. Llandegla for example, has a family route out and around the reservoir but also has a large network of red and black graded trails. All with great onsite café and bike shop facilities.
North Wales has always been a favourite riding spot for me; the scenery is unlike anywhere else in the UK, in fact the world.
Mountain Biking, Penmachno, Conwy, Snowdonia
The hills around Blaenau Ffestiog and Betws-y-Coed have some amazing riding such as the Gwydyr Forest and the new downhill facility Antur Stiniog. I always feel like I have really been “mountain” biking after a visit. On any weekend you can find riders from all over the UK that have travelled far and wide to ride the tracks that Wales has to offer.
Indeed, Wales has always embraced the outdoor lifestyle with great facilities for climbing, walking and such and now it can be rightly proud of the mountain biking within its borders.