2017 was always going to be the year I hit it. After getting into the sport properly in 2015, I spent 2016 on the Camber getting confident and quicker. By the time 2017 rolled round I’d purchased my dream bike (the Bronson) and drew up a list of all the places I wanted to visit imminently. I based the list on things I’d read, and a little on distance, plus gut feelings. There’s a few standout destinations, and a few places I’ll ride that aren’t on the list. I figured one destination a month was a sensible number, after all I do hold down a full time job as well. So, without further ado, here’s the first part of the list (in no particular order I must add).

1. Bike Park Wales

Uplift. Uplift, of course. I’ve never ridden somewhere with an uplift before and the thought of it brings mixed feelings. I love descents. It’s what I ride for. At the same time I can’t help but feel it’s cheating a little. Either way, I’m going to get in the van and haul that Bronson down as many trails as I can possibly squeeze in. I’m tempted to save this for a rainy day when the centre is hopefully a little quieter, but the videos I’ve watched make this place look simply amazing. And the best bit: they’re always adding more. It’ll probably be even better by the time I get there.

2. Coed Y Brenin

The home of trail centres in the UK. It’s a given that mountain bikers should visit this place at least once. I’m super happy I did. The riding was spot on and the company was even better. We rode a mini-meetup here not long back and had an awesome time. Over the two days, getting the MBR trail, the fox one (I forget the name) and playing on the skills park. Well, it was so good I’d love to go back.

3. Wharncliffe

If you’ve been on YouTube or Instagram, you’ll likely have heard of this spot. The Clayspades are pushing the boundaries of trail building, no doubt. Their amazing trails look so smooth and formed perfectly that when I rode through the woods I couldn’t help but come back and add this to the list immediately. I’ve ridden Grenoside (over the road) a few times now and I love it. Wharncliffe looks on a whole different level though and I’ll be saving it for later in the year when I’ve got a bit more skill on the new bike.

4. Llandegla

For the MTBMeetup of course. Llandegla in June will certainly be one of the top stops of the year. Last year was excellent and way beyond my expectations and I’m super pumped to be going back again this year. Riding with so many awesome folk and making new friends has been a huge part of biking for me, and Llandegla was where it all pulled together for me. MTBMeetup, bring it on!

5. Stainburn

I rode this place on the Camber back in 2016 and it was awesome. It’s not particularly long but it is technical, and I love that sort of riding. Rocks and more rocks. I was having such a good time until I took the tamest over the bars you’ve ever known. I laughed so hard at the slow-mo fall that I thought I might wee in my padded shorts. When I hopped back on the bike I realised I’d bent my rear brake rotor though. And then it wasn’t so funny. In the end, it was a ride ender so I’m keen to get back and finish what I started. Oh, and on the new bike too. Yes.

6. Antur Stiniog

A bit more uplift for good measure. This place looks absolutely sick. It’s been on the list for a while now and was actually planned for this month, along with a summit to Snowdon (with the bike of course) – until I had to pull out due to fitness issues. It’s been planted in my head now and there’s no getting away from it. It has to happen. I will ride there!

 

That’s the first 6. I’ll save the next 6 for another post soon – can’t have too much of a good thing after all. Think I’ve missed somewhere key? Drop it in the comments below. Bonus points if you can guess where I’m planning for the next 6 places.