The network of trails set up by Forest Enterprise and sponsored by the likes of Red Bull, Karrimor and MBR have proved an outstanding success in terms of bringing money into an otherwise flagging area. They’ve also moved mountain bikers from being labeled a nuisance to one of the key “tourism’ groups, which is certainly a welcome change.
Dafydd Davies is the far sighted forester who started the trail building programme entirely off his own bat, fighting for recognition and support from Forest Enterprise top brass at every step of the way. He has now seen his brainchild reap the rewards of all his hard effort and that of his volunteer trailbuilding crews.
Figures have just been released for the 1999 season (before the new MBR trail was opened) and they show over 120,000 mountain bikers trekked to the far side of Wales to ride the superb purpose built singletrack trails.
It is estimated these riders poured over £5 million into the local economy, through hotels and B+B’s, eating out, pubs and local shops. Hotels have taken on extra staff to deal with the influx of riders and rather than the typical dismayed reaction to muddy kit and bikes, some are even offering discounts to mountain bikers.
In recognition of this massive boost to the economy, Forest Enterprise, the Welsh tourist board and the Welsh National Assembly are all now firmly behind plans to create similar riding areas and trail networks across the rest of Wales. This will decrease peak loading on the Coed Y Brenin trails as well as providing a greater range of trail types including open mountain areas across the whole of Wales. American trailbuilding organisation IMBA will also be coming across for a month to look at the work done at Coed y Brenin and other sites, so they can pick up the lessons learned in the often evil climate conditions of western Wales.
We’ve been invited to go and check out proposed trails in Mid Wales and we’ve been promised big news shortly about the expansion of the trails network. We’ll let you know more as soon as we can, but until then we’ll just say thanks to Dafydd and all his hard work. If you haven’t been there yet, go and check out the superb routes. They have been constructed to be totally rideable when your local trails are 6 feet under and we guarantee they’ll offer a technical but rideable challenge to anyone from beginners to experts.