Trail centres are popping up all over the UK, offering everything from leisurely undulating trails to extreme gnarly shoots.
North Wales is renowned for its beautiful landscapes, old heritage and quaint villages. But amongst the stunning scenery lies a network of mountain trails to get your blood pumping, and your adrenaline fix.
Llandegla is a local trail centre to the big cities. Situated just 90 mins from Manchester, 60 mins from Liverpool and in the heart of North Wales, this hot trail spot welcomes riders from all over.
We took a spin up to Llandegla's trail centre, Oneplanet Adventure to check out their forest routes.
The MTB Trails
This trail centre really has something for every rider, walker and runner with trails accommodating the beginner to the expert shredder.
There's a great pump track on site which is perfect for getting yourself warmed up for the trails, and for practising the essential skills for pedal efficiency. Along with a skills area and free-ride park, the trail centre has plenty to offer beginner riders looking to progress, and experienced riders getting back to basics.
Trails start with the easiest grade, a pleasant green trail for families and novices looking to get into the spirit of riding. This 5km loop has gradual climbs and descents, just enough to get a taste, and get hooked on the sport.
Once you've gotten the fitness and confidence to take on more trail, the Blue trail is an ideal 12km route with a balanced mix of ascents and downhill sections through forest and fire road.
For more proficient riders, the Red trail incorporates the Blue line but adds additional technical sections to test your skill and endurance. Banked berms, hairpins and rock gardens, this trail will test you in all areas of mountain biking.
If you're really looking for an adrenaline fuelled test, then the Black loop is a hair-raisingly fun trail. Connecting and crossing over with the Red, the Black incorporates drops, table tops and undulating flowing tracks for those that like to pick up speed.
Oneplant Adventure Centre
The hub of this bustling trail centre is Oneplanet Adventure where all riders congregate for some much needed rest time, and refuelling. It's also the host for numerous MTB events, such as the MTB Meetup festival.
This log cabin centre has a cosy and warm atmosphere, offering a selection of delicious homemade cakes - I came, and I ate - and award winning cooked meals by their lovely chef, Ritchie.
The cafe is well equipped with everything you'll need to power you up those climbs, and keep you going all day. Whilst there, I noticed that it wasn't just riders enjoying the facilities, but families, children, business folk and elderly members of the public were relaxing in the centre, presumably waiting for their partners to finish riding. But nonetheless, Oneplanet Adventure have created a lovely atmosphere for everyone to enjoy.
Along with their reputable cafe, Oneplanet Adventure has a well stocked on-site store, bike wash, workshop and bike hire facilities which ensure every rider is well catered for from novice to expert.
Expert mechanics and well trained staff are welcoming, and ready to help iron out those mechanical niggles and assist you with any trail queries.
Impressively, the centre have 6 qualified mountain bike coaches with a wealth of knowledge and experience to help build your skills and confidence on two wheels. Oneplanet Adventure offers a variety of coaching courses: groups, 1:1 and women's only which run frequently and throughout the year.
Women of Llandegla
It isn't just the impressive selection of baked yummies that draws in the crowd, either, but Oneplanet has one of the most equipped on-site stores I've seen at a trail centre.
Most trail centres and bike parks have an on-site store to tease and tempt you with new biking kit, apparel and components. Perhaps you want to reward yourself for a great day or riding, or simply fancy a little memento from the day. However, women usually suffer with selection where it's limited, or not even present. This is far from the case with Oneplanet Adventure.
Katy Jones is responsible for the growth of the women's clothing selection in their bike store and she explains that "although it's taken a few years to get there, we can finally offer an extensive range of women's kit. From baselayers to waterproofs and even saddles."
With quality bike wear from Madison, Fox, Dakine, SDG saddles, Five Ten and Race Face, this store can kit you out head-to-toe with everything a trail rider will need. Even the kids section is varied and all encompassing, sharing the big brand names.
One of the six dedicated coaches is avid mountain biker, Cheri Mills, who's been coaching for 12 months at the Oneplanet Adventure site.
With a competitive racing background, and a passion for all things two wheels, Cheri is keen to help riders gain confidence and progress their riding skills. Whether it's jumps, drops or cornering, Cheri has you covered.
There is a strong female presence at Oneplanet, with the female community evidently growing according to Dan Ellis who says that "roughly 20% of riders on a weekend will be female. This is significantly more than a few years ago, and we're excited to promote this growth further."
Wednesday evenings host women's only rides from the centre and along one of the exciting forest trails on site. With riders of varying abilities, ages and skills, these social rides are great ways for women to get together, make friends and have fun.
It's no wonder why Llandegla is popular amongst cyclists, but it's grown in popularity amongst tri-athletes and nature walkers too.
There are two trail running routes - blue and red - which are 10km in distance. These are great for adventurers who want to try something a little different, and those training for triathlons. These routes are well sign-posted and take you through a series of off-road climbs and descents.
For only £4.50 per car, the trail centre is reasonably priced for the extensive facilities on offer, unlike other places that charge per person.
Oneplanet Adventure is a great mountain bike hub for the trails at Llandegla. The riding is great, the tracks and facilities are well maintained and offer a variety of technical and fast flowing riding.
For more information regarding coaching, events and trails, check out their website here.
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