Mountain Biking in the Afan Valley

By Dave Noakes

Yes it is true I love bikes, all types of bikes! The only problem that I have with this is trying to find time to ride them all! I seem to go through waves; sometimes I will ride my track bike a lot, then I will switch to my road, bmx or mountain…then there’s the bloody cyclocross bike as well. To be honest it can be a bit of a nightmare! Juliet and I both ride everything and whilst it is great to have a wife that shares my passion; deciding which bike to ride can often be a bit of a pain and a lengthy process. Ultimately, as long as we are riding something we’re happy!

As some of you may have grasped Juliet and I recently moved to Italy, this meant we had to pick one bike to come in the car and the rest were shipped separately. After much deliberation we selected our road bikes but quickly realised how much the other machines were missed. Our completed collection of bikes arrived last week and we have both been itching to ride some MTB.

I was looking back through some photos from a recent trip to the Afan Valley in Wales and got a bit nostalgic; there are quite a few trails to ride here in Italy and a number of the ski resorts open their slopes to mountain bikes in the summer. Though we arrived just as the season was ending so things are closing down; we have possibly found some good places that have lifts open at the weekend so stay tuned for more on that.

Anyway back to Wales; we had been to the Afan Valley before on a trip for Coven Magazine. Even though it was brutally wet we still loved it; when we returned this time the weather was kind, and we were even graced with a bit of sunshine! There are five world class mountain bike trails at the Valley; ‘Penhydd’, ‘Y Wâl’, ‘Skyline’, ‘White’s Level’ and ‘‘ and over 100km of single track. The climbs are tough but the views and descents make it all worthwhile.

The difficulty of the trails range from green (easy) to black (hard), they are not full on down hill trails and the blacks are quite technical but are definitely not as intimidating as other black runs I have tackled. I would definitely recommend a full suspension bike for all the trails, as there are some seriously rocky sections. You would be able to ride them on a hard tail but a full susser just means more fun. Though to be honest what ever you decide to ride I am sure you will enjoy it! I would recommend the Wall (Y Wal) and Skyline; Whites level is also a good one too. Actually they are all good so I will leave it up to you to decide. Check out the details on the Afan Forest Park website for lots of information. Oh…I almost forgot there is a bike park that you really must check out!

By Dave Noakes  By Juliet Elliott By Juliet Elliott

Photos by Juliet Elliott and myself


About Dave Noakes

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