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Exploring… Bike Park Wales

It’s been hailed as the best bike park in the UK for the three years it’s been open, has won a truckload of well deserved awards, and has been on my list to visit for what feels like forever. Finally, 12th August was the day of days, and the weather was absolutely stunning; blue skies for miles! Oscar and I headed up from leafy Surrey to Merthyr Tydfill to meet Chris, Sam, Artur, Graham and Pete for some tasty breakfast before driving to the cycling nirvana that is Bike Park Wales.

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Once we arrived, we set our bikes up, signed in and headed to the first of 9 uplifts we managed to get in on the day. We started on Terry’s Belly, the UK’s longest continuous blue graded descent at 4.2km. It was dry, dusty and fast. By the time we had laughed our way down the beautifully flowy, bermy trail, my hands were ridiculously sore from holding on (death gripping!), but what a start to the day! Luckily, the 2.6 mile uplift allowed for plenty of much needed recovery time.

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Throughout the day, we ticked off the majority of the blue and red runs, and a fair number of the blacks too. Increasing in difficulty, these trails were true to their colours. Sixtapod and Terry’s Belly were my choice of top blues on the day, with winding berms, small jumps and small rock sections to get you warmed up.

Out of the red runs we got through, their newer Hotstepper trail was easily my favourite. If I had to describe it, I’d use the word phenomenal. Tight trees, rock gardens and some decent sized drops too, this offered everything I love in a trail. The speed mixed with the technical sections left a smile from ear to ear. Wibbly Wobbly and Bonneyville were close contenders and we all had a blast on the qualifier features before hammering the full runs.

Another red trail, the newly refurbed A470 was a different beast. Chris, Sam and Artur nailed this run, but I’m not any good at jumping (yet). Show me a drop and I’ll be in my element, but my jump technique is shocking. After A470, it was time for some black runs. 4 of us hit Pork Belly, which started with an elevated rock drop. This was more my kind of trail and I’ll be sessioning that a little more on my next visit. Sadly my idiocy resulted in me not charging my GoPro fully, but luckily Chris had his to hand too. Here’s a small, terrible quality edit of some blues and reds, you’ll have to wait until next time for the black (stealth!) edit. Note to self – stick with GoPro studio!

Rim Dinger was insanely rocky and a borderline red/black trail in my opinion, with more scattered rocks than I’ve experienced before.. at least until Osc and I hit some black runs later in the day! I love riding technical sections rather than park style ‘flow runs’ like A470. Bike Park Wales truly offers a trail for everybody though, which is the beauty of it.

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As the day was drawing to an end, we split up and Oscar and I tried out some of the black runs, managing to squeeze in Coal not Dole, Deep Navigation and Zut Alors, which were another level of insane. Even more rocks, even steeper, and an absolute blast! We managed to squeeze in a final uplift and were the last 2 at the top of the park on the day. After checking out 50 shades of black, we decided to skip that and head to Dai Hard, which, with tired legs, felt immensely tough when twisting through the trees and rooty drops. I almost had a few crashes on this one, but we all finished unscathed (except for Pete, who had a couple of tumbles and some unfortunate mechanicals), aching and eager to get back to the best place I’ve ever had the pleasure of riding.

Huge credit once again to Bird Cycleworks, their Aeris is a true beast of a bike and is perfectly suited to a Bike Park like this. They’ve just released news of their shorter travel Aeris 120, so I’ll see if I can demo one for a review ASAP! You can check out their newly designed site here.

We popped into the café, picked up some ales and called it day, spending the 3 hour journey home reliving the trails we’d just ridden and what was an absolutely perfect day. Cheers to the lads on the day for some awesome company and the staff at Bike Park Wales. Check out their site and book your uplift here now.

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Until next time, cheers!

Ian @ Stealth Riders

 

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Music + MTB = Stoked

The right music can get you super pumped, we all know this. From destroying deadlifts to killing your 10k time, music can get your adrenalin flowing and give you a psychological advantage when the right track comes on. A heavy guitar riff, flowing lyrics, incredible bass or some choice electro synth, music is so diverse, and that’s the beauty of it.

My music taste is a bit ‘eclectic’ if I use kind words, others would say ‘shit’, but it’s personal. Music is like marmite. You love some genres and hate others. I like a bit of everything, with the exception of garage (do I really like it? No. No I don’t. Is it is it wicked? No, not really) and over the top cheese-pop. My iTunes library contains everything from Pirate Metal to Aussie Folk music, but primarily I love a bit of rock (punk-rock, pop-punk, southern rock.. anything really) and a healthy dose of hip hop, all blended together with a little EDM and mash up.

For me and many others, the right song at the right time is great with the MTB world. I wanted to share some of my favourite segments from some great MTB films over the years that have the perfect accompanying music. Check them out below, and if you don’t feel like shredding your trails after this, there is a very real chance that you may be dead inside:

New World Disorder 8 – R.A. The Rugged Man/Chains:

R.A is a lyrical genius, with ‘Chains’ and ‘Uncommon Valor’ both well worth a listen.

Kranked 8 – Love Grenades/Young Lovers (Sam Sparro Edit):

How every segment should be filmed. The Coastal Crew take riding to another level, with the perfect tune to accompany the trails.

Seasons – Wintersleep/Orca:

This segment from Seasons featuring the late Stevie Smith in his early days is super motivational, but sad to watch since his passing. #longlivechainsaw

New World Disorder 7 – Danko Jones/Baby Hates Me:

Danko Jones’ gravelly voice over some simple yet catchy guitar riffs is sure to get the blood pumping!

Martyn Ashton Back on Track – Coasts/A Rush of Blood:

This one just sums up overcoming obstacles in life, with a great backing track. Martyn Ashton is an inspiration and a legend in the cycling world, so this is a well deserved spot.

There are so many more segments with perfectly chosen backing tracks, although sometimes, a raw edit works wonders too, as seen below from Mark Wallace/Red Bull:

And there you have it! A few of the favourites here at Stealth Riders. I could go on for ages, but you don’t have all day, you’ve got a trail to hit up, and like Curtis Robinson in the Kranked 8 vid, some berms to destroy!

My favourite Band if you were wondering (I’m sure you weren’t, but whatever), is California based Zebrahead. Their pop-punk/punk rock fusion never fails to get me psyched for trail slaying (well, wobbling along a green trail, but in my head, I’m Gwinning). Have a listen to ‘Keep It To Myself’ from their latest album ‘Walk the Plank’ below, and if you like it, be sure to send some money their way and buy the album:

What are your favourite tracks to get you pumped for a ride? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time, cheers,

Ian @ Stealth Riders

Full credit to the original owners and uploaders of the videos featured in this blog post – you’re awesome.

Disclaimer – It’s your call, but I choose not to listen to music when riding, as it’s important to be aware of your surroundings. Whether on the road battling cars, or in the wild where the bears (ok, badgers) roam, always be safe people!