Plans are afoot to create an off-road cycling centre of excellence in South Wales, pending the result of a funding bid worth nearly £5 million.
Proposals include building more trails at AfanForest and Cwmcarn, creating a new trial centre at Gethin, Merthyr, developing MargamPark into an international event venue and funding downhill races and uplifts.
The aim is to build on the success of South Wales’s existing trails, attract more visitors to the area and encourage them to stay longer – but also to provide more facilities for beginners and local families.
Dave Liddy, Forestry Commission Wales’s visitor manager, told BikeRadar: “When the first trail centres were built, they were aimed at the top end of the market, but now we want to encourage equality and diversity.
“Skills loops and short sections of singletrack are likely to be built at Afan, as well as blue and green graded trails suitable for beginner riders and families.
“We also expect a black-graded loop along with downhill-specific trails to make up part of the new developments at Afan and Glyncorrwg, should the funding be secured.”
The long-term aim is to create a South Wales trail network comparable to Scotland’s hugely successful 7stanes, with Afan becoming the UK’s biggest trail centre.
A previous application for £8 million of funding was refused in March 2009, but an updated bid worth almost £5m has now been submitted, the result of which will be revealed in early January 2010.
It has been put together by prospective partners including Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council, Forestry Commission Wales, Caerphilly County Borough Council and Visit Wales.
Other suggestions for the area include the building of easier cross-country and downhill trails at Cwmcarn, to add to the black and red-rated routes that are already there.
We’ll keep you up to date with the latest on the bid to turn South Wales into a cycling centre of excellence. For now, we’re all keeping our fingers crossed here at BikeRadar. Have your say in the comments box below.