15 Essential Ingredients for the Perfect Trail Centre - Total Women's Cycling

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15 Essential Ingredients for the Perfect Trail Centre

And yes, cake is one of them (or a decent cafe, at least!)

Trail centres are popping up all over the UK to help quench the adrenaline thirst of mountain bikers everywhere. 

For some of us a trip to the bikeparks is more than just a weekend outing. They’re escapist safe havens, adult playgrounds where your inner child can run free, get muddy and ride some bikes with friends. Trail centres and bikeparks are amazing places for you to hone in your skills, meet fellow riders and shred in a safe environment.

With the growing popularity of our dirty little passion, trail centres are under pressure to offer a lot more than just maintained trails, a vending machine and a cheeky post-ride brew. In order to attract the masses, and keep us shredders happy, trail centres are beginning to think outside the box and get creative.

To help them out a little, I’ve popped together a little Trail Centre Wishlist for the perfect mountain biker’s hub…

Varied Trail Selection

You can’t have a trail centre without trails. A decent trail centre should have a good mix of trails, both techy and flow to really challenge your skills. In order to cater for all abilities, there should be tracks ranging from beginners green, to expert black pro-lines.

All trails should adhere to the IMBA guidelines for trail grading, and be well maintained to avoid any accident or injury.

Many trail centres and bikeparks have a fire road running parallel up/down the mountain, which is a great safety measure if you, or a group member, has a accident and needs to make it down to the bottom pretty sharpish. It also allows for emergency and work vehicles to access the trails with ease.

Happy Smiling Staff

 

Bikepark Wales celebrates their 3rd birthday

Having a dedicated, friendly and knowledgeable team of staff can be the key to a centre’s success. They are the face of the site; they’re the ones you go to for advice and help, and even for help in setting those nerves straight.

If you have a problem, you want reassurance that the trail centre staff are qualified and trained to help with all sorts, from mechanical issues, trail advice and even local community groups and events which may interest you.

Even though the male mountain bike community is welcoming to us women, it’s great to see a female face amongst the team to break up the boy’s club stigma.

Workshop

Mechanical issues can happen to the best of us at any time, so having a handy workshop on site can save you from ending your trail day short.

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All mechanics should have the appropriate training to handle your beloved steed, and offer practical and safe advice for fixing problems and maintaining your bike in the future.

Yum Yum Treats and Tea

Oneplanet Adventure’s well stocked café

Arguably the most important feature of any trail centre – for me anyway – is the café. An ideal trail centre café should have a variety of super healthy and not so healthy goods and treats for pre and post ride snacks.

Home-made cakes, fresh produce and a selection of wholesome hot meals to fill you up, not to mention the trail mixes and energy products to see you through the ride.

Bike Shop (with changing rooms)

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve rocked up to a trail centre with a missing piece of kit, usually gloves. It’s super handy to have a well stocked bike shop on site to cater for those weather miscalculations, and momentary lapses in memory.

Having a varied selection of women’s, men’s and children’s mountain bike kit allows you to feel and try before you buy. Having gear for everyone, promotes the feeling of inclusion for both genders and all ages – hurray! For some serious bonus points, having changing rooms in store with mirrors goes a long way with potential shoppers.

Bike Hire

Bike hire is a brilliant facility, and a great credit to a bikepark for a number of reasons. Having a well serviced fleet of demo bikes for hire welcomes new riders to the site, and to the sport. It allows taster sessions for beginners who are able to ride on some of the industry leading brands. What better way to inspire confidence, and fall in love with the ride?

Your guide to buying a hardtail MTB

Rental bikes allow experienced riders to try new models if they ever find themselves in the market for a new steed. They’re also a great back-up option if you ever find yourself without a ride, and needing a good shred.

Pump Track and Skills Area

Sometimes you want to focus on honing in on those skills and really pinning the techniques to boost your performance.

Rather than marching back up the trail to repeat jumps and drop sections, the ideal trail centre would have dedicated space for a skills park. Jumps, drops, berms and rock gardens can all be sessioned in a dedicated space not far from the centre.

Coaching, Clubs and Events

Everyone has to start somewhere, and what better way to gain essential kills and confidence, then with some expert tutelage. Whether it’s to improve your skill or kick bad habits, coaching is a great way to meet people and explore the trails and site.

Ask the Expert: 4 Essential MTB Skills

The dream centre would have a variety of courses on offer for men, women, children and mixed groups. Covering a variety of skills, bikeparks should provide a safe and encouraging environment to help you bring out the skills you didn’t know you had.

Children’s clubs really help out the parents who want to get their shred on, but ensure their offspring are safe and looked after while learning skills of their own.

Ample Rubbish Bins

Mountain bikers get a bad rep for trashing the landscape, and leaving a trail of litter in our wake. While a majority of us are pretty good at stashing our wrappers in our pockets and hydration packs, a few strays get left behind.

It might not be a crazy idea to have rubbish bins at the top of major of climbs, around the points riders often stop for a quick bite to eat and an energy boost. Even at the centre, bins should be available to promote considerate disposal.

Bike Wash

No one wants to load a muddy caked bike in the car, so having the option of hosing off your bike should be available. Whether you take your own cleaning products, or buy them there, the bike wash facility could be coin operated and available to everyone.

Toilets

We’re not expecting the Ritz of toilets, but cubicles with lockable doors, toilet seats, toilet paper, and preferably in an area where you don’t need to wade through a bog to get to them.

The Bonus Round

We’ve covered pretty much all the key features and facilities we’d want from our ideal trail centre, but there’s a few bonus things to really win us over…

On Site Camping/Accommodation

Us mountain bikers will travel miles across land and even overseas to get our thrills. On site accommodation and camping facilities would allow us to stay close enough to minimise additional travelling.

Photography

Let’s admit it, mountain bikers are renowned for being a wee bit narcissistic when it comes to photos. We love a sweet action shot of us getting some air, hammering through a berm and coasting our way to the bottom of a track.

Like you get at an amusement park on the log flume rides, having automatic cameras nabbing those sick shots would really go down a treat!

Changing Rooms (with showers)

Like you would have at any other leisure centre, changing rooms with lockers and showers allows you to keep your valuables safe and keep yourself clean. No one wants to sit in filth and sweat for their journey home, so having the option of showering off the grit and grime makes for a fresh ending to an awesome day.

Uber Spa Treats

Well, it’s our dream trail centre, so of course we’d love to have a wind down spa on site. Soothe achy muscles in the hot tub, grab yourself a professional massage, and your trail centre has just become your new vacation retreat. If only!

While we can dream of our ultimate trail centre including a spa and sauna, we’re pretty happy with the ones we have now and the tireless efforts they put in to make it fun for everyone.

Here are a few of our favourite centres: 

Where to ride MTB: Llandegla

Where to ride MTB: Forest of Dean

Women’s Weekend at Bikepark Wales

Check out the ‘Where to Ride’ section for more 

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