Bike Ranch Snowdonia is ideally situated for a proper adventure on mountain bikes. Sure, road cycling and walking are good in the area too, but if you’re heading to the Ranch it’s probably because you’re looking to ride bikes on arguably some of the best trails Wales has to offer.
With Coed-y-Brenin literally minutes down the road by bike, it couldn’t be more perfect for some time away. Although we didn’t head to the trail centre mecca, I was lucky enough to be invited to a pre-opening event – something scheduled just before the public launch. The aim was to grab loads of content for Bike Ranch Snowdonia; enough to keep them going on social media, in print, and on their website. Tackling Antur Stiniog, Penmachno, and Gwydir, our group knew we were in for a treat.
I arrived late on Friday evening, much later than anticipated after a long week at work. Tiredness already beginning to get the better of me, Pip and Tim (the owners of the Ranch) welcomed us with open arms and plenty of beers. We sat and chatted, getting to know the others on the trip, and snacked on the goodies they’d prepped for us. The whole house was immaculate and perfectly set up for groups. Sofas and a great, long dining table meant that we had plenty of space to chill out before heading to the en-suite rooms.
The first day’s riding was to be completed at Antur Stiniog Bike Park, an old quarry turned place of adventure. The breakfast and coffee were welcomed as a first chance to fuel for the day before we grabbed our bikes from their secure storage and loaded up into the Ranch’s incredibly beautiful custom van. A short drive later and we arrived. Anticipation was high in the group and, after a media briefing from the staff team, we headed out onto the hill. The incredible weather made grabbing plenty of shots easy and the train of Bike Ranch riders was great to be a part of.
I always enjoy riding at Antur Stiniog. For me, technical trails are great fun and Stiniog has some adequately challenging terrain to navigate. Sure, there are flowing trails to be found but, at least in my opinion, a good rocky section with careful line selection gives about as much fun as can be had.
At lunchtime, following a few runs, I began flagging a little. At first, I wasn’t sure if the previous night’s drive and late nights through the week had caught up on me. Either that or the sunshine had sapped me of energy. I headed out onto the hill once more to capture some more shots before calling it a day. I was grateful to Tim and Pip for being so understanding and dropping me back at the Ranch for an afternoon nap.
I pulled myself from my bed once I’d heard the others arrive back at base. There was no way I was missing the recollection of the afternoon’s riding, and I love a chance to chat about the riding we do. Once again, the long dining room table came in handy as I sampled my first raclette – something I’d never done before. Then, with amazing sunsets out over the hills, we lit the fire and continued chatting into the night.
Sunday was more difficult for me and, despite wanting to ride the trails, I made the difficult decision to call an end to my trip early, feeling wiped. The rest of the group were heading out on the trail riding day where local guide Ed from PedalMTB would show some fantastic trails. I wanted to capture some of the atmosphere of the morning and felt up to the task of shooting some of the pre-ride shots even though I knew I wouldn’t be riding. The morning sun was lifting mist from the valley below as the rest padded up and checked bikes over. Then, with whoops and high fives, they were gone into the trees leaving me to smile at a fantastic, albeit shorter, weekend and an excellent chance to ride bikes and make new friends.
It later turned out that I had contracted covid earlier in the week without knowing so the limited energy made a lot of sense. Thankfully, it avoided the others (which probably goes some way to demonstrating the size of the rooms!) and I only found out once I was back home.
Bike Ranch Snowdonia really is a brilliant venture. It’s a place to head to if you’re looking for a stress-free riding weekend without all the usual faff of booking tickets and getting to places at certain times. Pip and Tim really made the weekend for me and I can’t recommend them enough. Whilst this article isn’t sponsored by them at all (although if you’re reading this Pip!), I’m happy to share a link to their site because it’s truly worth considering if you’re fancying a trip to Wales to sample some awesome mountain bike trails.