BPW, located in South Wales, 3 hours away from London, is the brand new bikepark created by Rowan Sorrell (ex-world cup racer, skills coach and trail builder) and his crew. This is not just another trail centre that you can find around Wales or Scotland, but a proper bikepark very similar to what you can ride in the Alps. Uplifts, DH tracks, cleaning area and even a coffee/bike shop… everything a Mtb gravity rider could wish for!

On holiday in the area, I couldn’t resist the appeal! You can buy your day pass (£6) online to save queuing on the day, you can also book a spot in a Vito for the uplifts. Unfortunately, due to the school holidays, the vans were fully booked… nevermind, I don’t mind climbing. I figured I’d book an enduro bike and have a go.

On D day the weather is… typical for Wales in October! 10°C, drizzle and mist at the top of the hill, maybe climbing up on the bike isn’t such a bad idea after all! After picking up my day pass it’s time to pick up my rental bike from the shop and… damn! Despite my 2 emails, the brakes on my bike are the wrong way around (for somebody from the continent that is)! I can empathise with the British riders who come on holiday to mainland Europe and struggle to explain that “no really, I can’t ride like this”… after an (excellent) coffee, I finally get my bike set up and head up the hill.

Bikepark Wales dirty

Wet!

 First good surprise, I thought I would climb on a fire road, but nope, a lovely singletrack with some nice turns and few little challenges have been built next to the big track, making the climb as pleasant as possible. Next nice surprise, like the rest of the trails in the bikepark, this trail is built to be rideable whatever the weather (BPW is open 363 days a year), so even under the rain, you don’t have to struggle with mud everywhere!

After 30mins of steady climbing (later on, I would use the start of the singletrack until it meets the 4×4 and then continue on the fire road; not so fun but a lot quicker), I get to the start of the runs, and I was spoilt for choice. With 2 blues, 2 reds and 2 blacks, each of them cut in 3 sections by the fire road , you can ride all the way down or climb back up from half way down. During my day, and despite a couple of stops at the workshop, I managed to do 4 and a half runs, riding all the blues and reds. I stayed away from the blacks, not feeling equipped for it, especially in that weather.

Bikepark Wales start sign

The sign at the top of the runs; everything you need to know!

 The runs are completely artificial but so well shaped that there is never a dull moment! The blues feel like giant downhill pumptracks and the reds keep the same flow but with a few jumps/roots/rock gardens thrown in to spice things up a little… brilliant!

Bikepark Wales trail sign

There is a sign like this at the start of each run, describing what’s ahead, so there are no surprises…

 The work done by the shapers is impressive, they’ve worked really well with the natural slope so you don’t need to brake much and as a result there are hardly any braking bumps… after a summer in the Portes du Soleil, it’s quite refreshing! The dirt used is also very grippy so, even in the wet, you can ride fast without worrying about sliding all over the place… woohoo !

Bikepark Wales red

A red run (with a shy bird of prey flying away!)

 So, if you fancy a bit of downhill fun, don’t hesitate for a second (but take your own bike with you if you can). Even if BPW is more DH oriented, it’s great to ride with an enduro bike. It’s also the occasion to see what you can achieve without a big gradient but with a sheer amount of will (and hardwork), well done!!

Bikepark Wales Rowan

Rowan 1/Wheel barrow 0!

As the lifts are now shut in Morzine we have to travel a bit more to find some uplifts. A classic among the local riders is the Rocher de Naye, a 2045m mountain over looking lake Geneva in Switzerland. The top is easily reached by an hourly cog train from the centre of Montreux… you might get some curious looks from commuters as you take your muddy DH bike up the escalators of the train station! The mountain is covered with little hamlets and random chalets which means hundreds of single tracks! Not to mention that the local riders have built a few extra tracks as well…

We managed to squeeze four runs into the day (yes, that’s 6000m of drops) without pedalling up and all on single-track… wicked! This is a spot to ride when the weather is good as the views alone are worth the trip.

A couple of photos by Nico/Bikebox, more in the Gallery.

Jo, Sandrine, Laurent, Xav’, Nico.

Day off today… I grabed the RFX and a map and off I went for a bit of exploring! A good occasion to ride some trails I’ve only heard of so far… great! For you all technical singletrack fans, I have a few gems to offer!

Right, it’s time to go back to the sofa and enjoy the Olympics, it’s a day off after all!