So you’ve just started mountain biking. You have a mountain bike, or plan to hire. You want to ride. Where to go? Which trails should you do? Often the problem with trail reviews is that you can trawl through them endlessly and never get much of a sense for where to start.
The following are my recommendations. They aren’t definitive, given that they’re limited to places that I’ve ridden myself and largely to Wales, and also that they represent my personal taste rather than anything more objective.
Start with: Family ride round the Forest of Dean. It gets you out, on a bike, in the countryside. Short blue sections add a bit of interest, and the route itself is pleasant and on nice tracks.
Then ride: Derwen trail in Brechfa forest. More interest and more singletrack than most green graded routes, and a good taste of what to expect from blue graded trails. Also has the option of extending it into the blue section of the trail.
Start with: Blue Scar at Afan. Short, with a fairly gentle climb and some beautifully designed and excellently fun singletrack sections. Plenty of possibilities for harder rides if you find it a breeze.
Then ride: Verderers in the Forest of Dean. A little longer, a little harder, just as fun, and you can add Freeminers to it easily enough for a longer and more challenging route.
Start with: Penhydd at Afan, or Gorlech at Brechfa. Both are great trails, and generally don’t present too much of a huge challenge, but nevertheless are longer and more difficult than the blue trails. On both routes there are sections that will present a significant challenge to the bad mountain biker, and give fair warning what red graded trails can be like.
Then ride: The Wall or Whites Level, both at Afan. I generally use these trails as the yardstick by which I judge everything else. They’re each a good length, and nicely designed so that the climbs feel like an achievement and the singletrack sections feel like an adrenaline rush. There’s plenty to challenge the bad mountain biker.
And then: Twrch at Cwmcarn, the Dragons Back at Coed y Brenin, Marin at Betws y Coed, Cwm Rhaeadr, everything that you possibly can. To be honest at this stage it becomes hard to whittle down the trails to a couple of recommendations!