Finding new cycle routes can be time consuming. Where do you want to ride? What do you want to ride, and for how long? These are all the questions you find yourself asking. To help out with your search for an un-pedalled path, we're bringing you some popular routes from around the UK.
To kick things off, we're looking at the rolling valleys of Wales. The land of cawl, Welsh cakes and dragons is a cyclist's haven. From top to bottom, you have undulating winding roads, stunning coastal cycleways and of course, steep mountains for shredding - why do you think I moved here...
Whether you're looking for things to do on your getaway trip to Wales, or you want to give yourself a new cycle challenge, we've got a short-list of routes to tickle your fancy. Of course, these are by no means the only rides we'd recommend in the whole of Wales - there are hundreds - but they're enough to get you pedalling in the right direction.
Ystwyth Trail – Aberystwyth to Trawsgoed
Distance: 9 miles
Start: Aberystwyth - Finish: Trawsgoed
This traffic free route is ideal for cyclists of all skill levels and ages. You'll ride through Ystwyth Valley and along the riverbank, taking in the beautiful natural surroundings.
You'll cycle through the picturesque villages of Rhydyfelin, Llanfarian, Llanilar, and also Pendinas Nature Reserve. On the outskirts of Trawsgoed, this park boasts 10 acres of stunning countryside.
If you've got some energy leftover, why not carry along the trail to make for a longer route. Out of Trawsgoed, you can continue onto Cors Caron near Tregaron.
Pensarn to Prestatyn
- Distance: 9 miles
- Surface: Tarmac
- Start: Pensarn & Abergele railway station - Finish: Prestatyn Tourist Information Centre
This short route is a popular coastal path in North Wales. It's part of the much longer, Cycle Route 5, which stretches from Holyhead to Chester.
Setting out from Pensarn, you'll wind around the colourful boats moored in Rhyl's marina. Almost the entire route is a wide tarmac stretch of cycle path, making it safer for more inexperienced riders and families with small children.
This coastal route takes you past popular sea-side towns, so there are plenty of cafés and ice-cream parlours for those mid-ride munchies.
Fishguard to St Davids
- Distance: 19 miles
- Surface: Tarmac
- Start: Fishguard - Finish: St Davids
An ideal day out on the bikes would be this 19 mile route from Fishguard to St Davids. It begins with some challenging hills to really get the blood pumping. As you leave Fishguard, you'll have some short sections of road before rejoining the cycle path.
After you pass through Trefin, the route begins to level out. The views around Pembrokshire are breath-taking, so make sure you head out on a clear day.
With plenty of small villages and towns along the way, there's a number of options for rest stops, picnics and ice-cream.
If you're looking for something more challenging, longer in distance with some stunning scenery, then these road routes are for you. Best ridden on road specific bikes, or hybrids with slick tyres.
Distance: 50 or 70 miles
Start/Finish: Menai Strait, on to Caernarfon Castle
Earlier this year, Snowdonia saw the launch of the Brailsford Way. Named after Sir David Brailsford, who used to cycle these same routes in his youth, this loop was used for Etape: Snowdonia.
You can choose from either the 50 mile, or 70 mile route which both begin and end in Caernarfon. Although, you can choose your own beginning and end, seeing as it's a looped route.
Stunning landscapes, challenging gradients and smooth tarmac roads, what more could you want?
Lon Cambria - Aberystwyth to Shrewsbury
Distance: 113 miles
Start: Aberystwyth - Finish: Shrewsbury
Cycle across mid-Wales on this challenging, but rewarding ride. This 113 mile ride will take you along the coastal paths at Aberystwyth, and through the countryside to the historic border town of Shrewsbury.
As you leave Aberystwyth, you'll make your way to the steep climbs of Pont-rhyd-y-groes to join a remote mountain road east of Cwmystwyth. What comes with the climbs, are the descents and this road takes you to the beautiful Elan Valley Trail and reservoirs.
Pass the watershed as you cross over from the Wye Valley to the Severn Valley, you'll drop down to Llanidloes. One of the steepest climbs of the route comes after Caersws, so enjoy those flat sections along the Montgomery Canal towpath.
With a final push on the Roman Road, you'll be able to take in the panoramic views before a flowy descent into the market town of Shrewsbury.
Taff Trail - Cardiff to Brecon
Distance: 55 miles
Start: Cardiff Waterfront - Finish: Brecon
If you have one long day to pedal some miles, see some historic sights and get your blood racing, then head over to South East Wales and get on the Taff Trail.
A few miles out from the busy hustle and bustle of Cardiff, and you'll be faced with wonderful natural wildlife. There's plenty of picnic areas, rest stops and sights to see as you cycle towards Pontypridd.
On your way to Merthyr, you'll come across a number of worthwhile heritage sites and museums to brush up on local history. Onwards towards the rolling mountains of Brecon where the path undulates and winds past gushing waterfalls and crystal still reservoirs.
Feel the wind in your hair, and the dirt on your face with some trail blazing routes. These trails are for mountain specific bikes, both hardtails and full-suspension.
Coed y Brenin
Number of trails: 8
Bike hire: yes
It's become a legendary MTB site in the heart of Snowdonia, as Coed y Brenin has everything to offer the experienced mountain shredder, and the young little ripper too.
The trails range from green to black, with increasing difficulty in flow and technical features. It's a centre that caters for all ages and abilities, while encouraging family participation with their fun blue Minotaur trail, welcoming café and well stocked shop.
For more gnarly and daring riders, the red and black trails offer challenging features, daring descents and technical climbs. If you're feeling particularly energetic, you can easily get a couple loops conquered in a day. For more trail centre information, check out their website here.
Number of trails: 8 + secret ones
Bike hire: yes
A short way off the M4 motorway, above Port Talbot, lies a spider web of gnarly mountain trails just waiting to be shredded.
Afan Valley is home to many annual MTB races and sportives, and it's become a local playground for avid riders. With 8 marked out routes, a few skills parks and a bustling bike centre, Afan's natural and wild mystique has a lot of uncovered secrets too.
Geared towards families, Afan park has something for every level of ability. Afan is primarily ran by the local council, so it doesn't have a big coffee drinking hub, or a large number of on-site staff, so ensure you bring your own snacks and repair kits. More information about the Afan Valley Bike Shed, and trail information here.
Nant yr Arian
Number of trails: 3
In the heart of mid-Wales lies, Nant yr Arian trail centre. If you really want to test your skills and push those limits, then this is the place for you. Although there are just 3 marked trails, they're each graded red or black, and will give you a good ride for your money.
The Syfydrin trail is a black graded beast of 35km which takes you through stunning countryside, atop rocky mountains with some fun off-camber singletrack. It's quiet and remote, just you and the wilderness is all you need when you shred along those trails.
The visitor centre is open all year round, from 10:00 - 17:00 offering locally sourced foods for that essential fuel.
Of course, this is just a small cross section throughout Wales. There's plenty more leisure, road and mountain routes to fill your time in Wales.
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