Good news for riders of all abilities and all disciplines – work on the new BikePark Wales project at Gethin Woods near Merthyr Tydfil is due to start very soon, and we can expect to be on the trails this year.
BikePark Wales construction due to begin February 2013
BikePark Wales are delighted to announce that construction of their first of a kind bike park facility at Gethin Woods is due to begin in February 2013.
BikePark Wales aims to be the UK’s premier mountain bike destination with trails to suit all abilities and all types of mountain biking and will be the UK’s first large commercial bike park.
BikePark Wales is part of the Cognation project that is investing in mountain biking throughout South Wales. The Cognation partnership is made up of Neath Port Talbot CBC, Merthyr Tydfil CBC, Caerphilly CBC, Visit Wales and Forestry Commission Wales.
The project is part-funded by the EU’s Convergence European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government with match funding coming from the Welsh Assembly Government and partner organisations.
Planning for the park began in 2008 when the BikePark Wales team realised that the UK and South Wales in particular was desperately in need of a facility of this kind to take the sport to the next level. Fortunately both Forestry Commission Wales and Merthyr Tydfil CBC shared this vision and under the Cognation umbrella they have provided fantastic support to make this project possible.
There has been much speculation as to what facilities and trails the park will have. The aim for BikePark Wales has always been to create the ultimate riding destination for mountain bikers in the UK, the key to this is of course the trails. Responsible for building the trail network at BikePark Wales will be Rowan Sorrell, owner of trail building company Back-On-Track and a director at BikePark Wales. Rowan has been responsible for some of the UK’s favourite trails including Lee Quarry, Gawton downhill centre, Coed Llandegla skills area and the Verderer’s trail in the Forest of Dean.
“I can’t wait to start building the trails at BikePark Wales, it’s a big hill at Gethin with amazing scope to build some really interesting lines. Having a spot to develop over the years and build a full scale bike park has always been a dream of mine. We already have most of the trails plotted and there really is some great terrain on the hill. We will have everything from blue trails to double black diamond so whether you are a complete novice or an elite downhill racer there will be something for you”
Unique to BikePark Wales will be the presence of a full time trail crew to maintain and continually develop the trails. Other trails in the UK have suffered from a lack of investment to maintain them after the initial build. Bikepark Wales will have a full time crew ensuring the trails are kept in top condition and building new sections to enjoy.
Below is an image showing the trail plan for Bikepark Wales over the next few years. It is important to note that not all of these trails will be built before the park opens in 2013 but BikePark Wales envisage that a good proportion of these trails will be open by late 2013 with more to be added in the coming years. The park team have grand plans to continually evolve the trail offering over the next 10-15 years!
BikePark Wales 5 year trail plan
The trails at BikePark Wales will be suitable for riders of all abilities and one thing we can guarantee is fun! There will be a selection of trails suited specifically for DH bikes but the majority of the trails at the park will be rideable on a decent mid travel trail bike. Difficulty levels will vary from easy green trails suitable for families through to extremely difficult black and double black level trails. There will be a pump track next to the visitor centre terrace and a kids trail at the bottom of the hill.
BikePark Wales will also have a vehicle uplift with a Capacity for 75 riders at weekends meaning that BikePark Wales will be able to take more riders than any other destination in the UK. A new more direct uplift road will be constructed on-site
Anna Walters of BikePark Wales added;
“We are aiming to do things a little differently at BikePark Wales. Most of the other facilities in the UK that currently offer uplift only cater to the elite DH market, of course we will 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 will have a myriad of all mountain, trail, XC and freeride trails that can all be accessed from the uplift meaning more people can enjoy the benefits of uplifted riding.”
In addition to the trails and uplift BikePark Wales will also have a bespoke visitor centre with a Cafe, a bike shop, bike rental and a Fox suspension service centre courtesy of Mojo, one of BikePark Wales’ sponsors.
BikePark Wales will also be a centre of excellence for mountain bike coaching, if you are looking to polish your skills and learn from the best then BikePark Wales will offer a course to suit your needs.
The BikePark Wales team are keen to recognise the support the project has had from its fledgling stages.
“The support has been fantastic. There are a lot of stake holders in this project, from Merthyr Council, to Neath Port Talbot who are managing the wider Cognation project, to Forestry Commission Wales, the vision and support from all parties has been amazing to see. We’ve also seen incredible support from within the bike industry and businesses local to the bike park. Chris Porter of Mojo/Fox was the first step up and support the project financially, Huw Lloyd-Lewis, avid mountain biker and owner of Swift Credit a company based in nearby Merthyr Tydfil has also stepped in as a sponsor early on. Other brands already signed up as sponsors include Shimano, MBUK our media sponsor, iXS and Answer handlebars. The list continues to grow as news of the project spreads”
Chris Porter of Mojo Suspension added the following;
“Mojo Suspension is a big believer in built trails for the UK. We love our wilderness rides as much as anyone but we also love to know that a trail will be ride-able in the worst weather. We believe that trail centres are helping mountain biking in the UK to grow and helping it to become a year round sport.
For this reason we were the first company to stand up and financially support BikePark Wales in their efforts to establish the UK’s first privately run gravity bike park! We have every confidence the Park will be a great success and we are so glad that it is situated less than half an hour’s drive from Mojo, right at the heart of the Mountain Bike Mecca that is South Wales.”
Construction on the trails and visitor centre is due to begin in February 2013 and the park is due to open to the public during Autumn 2013. The BikePark Wales team will announce more detailed information in the coming weeks and months. In the meantime we ask you to follow our Facebook page and Twitter for updates and news on public dig days to help create the trails, competitions and your chance to let us know what you want to see at the bike park.
You can follow the progress of the project on Facebook and Twitter.