South Wales & The Brecon Beacons National Park
Lungbusting climbs over high mountains, stupendous drops from remote passes, sweeping singletrack above sumptuous beaches and the odd roman road and ancient trade route thrown in for good measure.
Route 1. The Blorenge - Abergavenny Peaks
Route Grade: medium. Distance: 17km
This mountain bike route enjoys tracks and trails left over from the mining and quarrying to wind its way over Abergavenny and the Usk Valley to the towering peaks beyond.
Route 2. Black Mountains Classic
Route Grade: hard. Distance: 45.2km
The valleys of Grwyne Fawr and Grwyne Fechan slice deeply into the heart of the Black Mountains, just a few kilometers north of Crickhowell. They are magnificent glens penetrated by some excellent trails that hurdle the lofty ridges that define them. These provide one of the longest, toughest and arguably the best mountain bike routes in this book.
Route 3. Mynydd Llangorse
Route Grade: medium. Distance: 31km
The highlights of the route are without doubt the singletrack along the western flanks and the descent from Cefn Moel to Bwlch. But the leg that crosses Allt yr Esgair is a welcome distraction too, especially as it takes you over a hilltop that sees far less exploration than most of the summits around here.
Route 4. The Gap Road - The Brecon Beacons
Route Grade: medium. Distance: 34km
The pass Bwlch ar y Fan (which means Gap in the Peaks - more commonly referred to as 'The Gap') has earned almost legendary status with Brecon mountain bikers.
Route 5. Sarn Helen & Fforest Fawr
Route Grade: medium. Distance: 21km
This is one of the easiest loops in the book. With navigation easy too it's a great one for those looking to gain a bit of Brecon Beacons experience before stretching themselves a bit more.
Route 6. Rhossilli and The Gower
Route Grade: medium. Distance: 35km
The Gower coast has some of the finest beaches and most spectacular sea cliff scenery in the UK. And the spine of the slender peninsula consists of a lofty, whaleback ridge that is criss-crossed with tracks and trails just made for mountain biking.
Route 7. Presselli Hills - Pembrokeshire
Route Grade: hard. Distance: 37km
This mountain bike route is an absolutely epic, starting in the seaside town of Newport and clambering up onto the hills via a series of bridleways and narrow lanes. Once up the main trails (know as the Golden Road, runs for over 10km - a rollercoaster mix of scintillating singletrack and faint, boggy hollows.
There's a truly wild feeling to the moors and mountains that make up the heart of Wales, and fortunately they are criss-crossed with some wonderful trails - could mountain biking get any better than this...
Route 8. The Doethie Valley - Llandovery
Route Grade: medium. Distance: 23km
Although there is a lot to this little loop the real substance is in the magnificent singletrack descent that runs down the Doethie Valley, which in places is as good , if not better than anything else in Wales - natural or trail centre.
Route 9. Irfon Forest - Llanwrtyd Wells
Route Grade: medium. Distance: 23km
23km is not too far but with nearly 1000m of ascent this little gem will test the best. The final drop comes with a huge grin factor, as do the pubs and teashops in town!
Route 10. Llanbedr Hill - Border Country
Route Grade: medium. Distance: 37km
The upland region between Builth Wells and north of Hay-on-Wye seems to fall off the radar for most visitors to Wales. It's a shame as it is wonderfully remote.
Route 11. Claerwen Valley - Elan Valley
Route Grade: easy. Distance: 12km
A short mountain bike route that is a great introduction to mid Wales mountain biking. The route is in parts a bit rough and ready but makes for some great rollercoaster riding!
Route 12. Elan Valley - Rhayader
Route Grade: hard. Distance: 30km
This route is one of the most strenuous outings in the book. Although not too long or involving too much ascent it is the nature of the terrain that takes its till - steep and rough ground. The descent from Y Gurn makes it all worthwhile - a mix of singletrack and duplex adorned with short rocky steps.
Route 13. Radnor Forest
Route Grade: easy. Distance: 17km
The highpoint of the region is a mountain come-moor, known as the Great Rhos, standing at 660m. This route climbs to within paces of the summit making it one of the highest routes in the book.
Route 14. Foel Fadian - Machynlleth
Route Grade: medium. Distance: 24km
Off the beaten track this route has a couple of trails that are as good as anything in the book, making it well worth the effort to get to.
North Wales & The Snowdonia National Park
The highest mountain in Wales provides the biggest climb and descent in the book, but there is so much more to North Wales than this. Snowdonia provides mountain biking in real mountains but don't overlook the outlying ranges of the Berwyns and Clwyds, there's plenty to go at there too...
Route 15. The Foothills of Cadair - Cadair Idris
Route Grade: medium. Distance: 44km
This mountain bike route makes the most of the spider's web of tracks and trails on the mountain's northern and western foothills.
Route 16. Pont-Scethin - Rhinogau
Route Grade: medium. Distance: 19km
Quite a short outing but also a tough one. It starts with a warm up on a climbing road section then gravel followed by a sweet descent. Now a gruesome climb but followed by a wonderful descent then traverse with wonderful views.
Route 17. Berwyn Hills
Route Grade: hard. Distance: 50km
A true epic mountain bike ride and worth saving for a good day so the riding can be savored as the hilltops are wild, exposed and not a place to be in foul weather.
Route 18. Snowdon
Route Grade: hard. Distance: 21km
Don't think of this route as just another ride; think of it as an event! This mountain bike route is one of the best in the book.
Route 19. The Carneddau - Snowdonia
Route Grade: hard. Distance: 27km
This route is best suited to good, fit, technical riders that are happy wrestling with the many challenges the high mountain environment throws at them. It offers top-notch mountain biking in wonderful remote places and is about as afar removed from the trail centre experience as you could possibly get.
Route 20. The Clwydian Hills
Route Grade: medium. Distance: 20km
Many routes can be carved out of the Clwydian Range but for real quality and the chance to sample the best trails in the area, this 20km route is hard to beat. It starts in the tiny village of Cilcain, north of Moel Farnau.
Only a few miles over the border in England the ridge of Long Mynd is undoubtedly Welsh in character, and this route, starting in Church Stretton, makes the nest of it, including the renowned singletrack of Minton Bach
Route21. The Long Mynd - Shropshire
Route Grade: medium. Distance: 32km
The climbs are mainly rideable and the descents are absolutely stupendous, with the sinuous singletrack down Minton Batch calling for a cool head and a tightrope walker's balance!