After dealing with a murder, stabbings and working in areas riddled with World War II anti-tank mines as a safety adviser in Libya, Andy Braund is looking forward to a quieter life as Forestry Commission Wales’s new mountain bike ranger in North Wales.
Andy also helped repair buildings in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and regularly clambered over the Britannia Bridge across the Menai Straits in a previous incarnation as a “rope access” expert.
Now the 39-year-old has returned to his first love of mountain biking and is relishing the prospect of looking after the world-renowned trails in an area that he has ridden in for almost 20 years.
“Being able to go home to the family after a day’s work is fantastic, and to work on the trails I ride regularly is a dream come true,” said Andy. “The challenge is maintaining all the trails and evolving the product so that it continues to provide an exciting experience for people.”
Andy lives in Penmachno and has been looking after the village trails voluntarily for the past two years. He will now have the responsibility of upholding the reputation of the FC Wales trails in Gwydyr and Coed y Brenin.
“My background is climbing and hill walking as well as canoeing, orienteering and other outdoor activities,” said Andy. “But I’m absolutely passionate about mountain biking and always come back to that.”
He hopes to create more volunteer schemes for the trails and encourage a greater sense of ownership among local riders, but keeping up with mountain biking technology will also be a challenge. “Very often these days, the bikes people pull off their car racks are worth more than the cars themselves,” he said.