Where: Brecon Beacons, South Wales
Price of Half Day Guided MTB ride for 2 people: £75
Price of Bike and Helmet Hire: £35 each
Most challenging section: Riding on different terrains
For my boyfriend’s birthday, I knew he would want to do something mountain bike related. We’ve done a lot of cycling in North Wales so I thought South Wales would be a fun adventure for us both! My Nan used to live in South Wales with her husband and they happened to be visiting family in March, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to combine the two activities together.
I started looking for things to do around Merthyr Tydfil. I knew there would be plenty of trails but since I was not familiar with the area I was really keen on getting a mountain bike guide. I found a company online called Treads and Trails and contacted the owner Hue on their Facebook page to see what they had to offer.
I told him that me and my boyfriend had different levels of ability (Simon is a lot better than me) and that I wasn’t sure if we wanted to bring our own bikes as we travelling by train. Hue was very helpful, he told me that I could hire bikes through Treads and Trails and that he would find a route suitable for both of us. I was so excited and managed to keep what I had planned a surprise!
We got the train from Chester to Abergavenny with a suitcase and two helmets in hand. Simon was still clueless as to what was going on but I’m sure the helmets gave a slight clue. When we arrived we walked around the town centre and visited the Old Fish Market where we found a load of vintage action figures and Disney dolls! When the sun started to come out we found a nice beer garden where we sat and enjoyed a shandy. (It was St David’s day after all!)
We were then picked up and taken to Merthyr Tydfil by a family friend, this was great as there are no direct trains from Chester to Merthyr and it helped me keep the destination a surprise. We had a great night in Merthyr but we we were careful not to get too drunk with our big bike ride the next day.
Hue from Treads and Trails picked us up from the Travel Lodge where we were staying for an additional price which worked out a lot cheaper than hiring a local taxi firm. We had a pleasant journey to the Brecon Beacons and once we arrived at Talybont reservoir we were given our hire bikes. We were pleased with the quality of the hire bikes and they had been kept in excellent condition.
All set to go, we started on the first uphill climb. It was a few miles long but with a very shallow gradient. I started off confidently but after a couple of miles, I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it. Runners spored me on who were passing in the opposite direction promising me I didn’t have much longer to go with this motivation I pushed on and I was very proud to make it to the top without stopping!
We travelled on a lot of different terrains, from very loose rocky paths to very wet areas. This was a great experience for me as I have only ever ridden on neatly curated trails when mountain biking before. It took some time to get used to the loose terrain and I noticed my bike moving around a lot beneath me. I was assured this was normal and told to keep looking ahead as I have a habit of looking at what I am about to ride over. This is a bad idea and guaranteed to make you wobble more and possibly fall off! Hue was great giving tips and encouraged me throughout the ride. When we reached the top we were rewarded with some spectacular views of the reservoir.
Now for the fun bit; making our way down. We first rode down a big winding road which evolved into a narrower off-road trail. I dismantled my bike for only one part of the downhill section; a short steep descent made up of solely big rocks. I wasn’t brave or skilled enough to try this section and Hue suggested I walk down. I watched Simon whiz down the rocks and it looked like great fun which he confirmed when we met him at the bottom. I did manage to ride all the other downhill sections which included fords and loose rocky sections. I left the ride not only having had a great time but also feeling very accomplished. The whole experience was fantastic and I loved some of the challenges I came up against. Although the ride was not as challenging for Simon he thoroughly enjoyed the route and what it had to offer. Treads and Trails did a great job at creating the perfect day for both of us.
Here is a flyover of the ride;
We deservingly ended the day at the Crown pub in Merthyr. We met family and friends and told them all about our adventures over some great food and drinks. If you are ever in the area and want some great pub food then this is the place. Later in the night, a band called The Platinum Band performed and they got everyone dancing.