Explore Southern Snowdonia

challenge your boundaries

In partnership with the Snowdonia National Park Authority, Sport Wales, Disability Sport Wales and Forestry Commission Wales (FCWales), the aim of the Discover Dolgellau ‘Challenge your Boundaries’ project is to develop and promote adaptive mountain biking as a sport in the Southern Snowdonia region of Wales, an area with an existing and strong mountain biking (MTB) pedigree. We aim to show that adaptive MTB is a means by which active people with disabilities can regain access to the mountain wilderness, or simply experience it for the first time.

The project, based at the famous FCWales Coed y Brenin mountain bike trail centre just outside Dolgellau, will provide equipment and opportunities for the coaching and development of riders with a disability to a point where they can make independent or at least semi-independent journeys off-road.

The MinorTaur trail at the Coed y Brenin trail centre

The MinorTaur trail is the latest offering at the FCWales Coed y Brenin Trail centre. This new track is a blue-grade mountain bike trail and was built to plug the gap between the ‘easy’ Yr Afon green route and the significantly more challenging red and black routes within the forest. The MinorTaur follows a ‘daisy-chain’ design with loops of trail leaving and rejoining the Yr Afon trail, giving plenty of opportunities to tailor a ride to the desires and abilities of any group. The first loops of trail were opened in Spring 2011, and the trail is due to be completed by the end of 2013.

Of interest to the ‘Challenge your Boundaries’ project is the fact that the MinorTaur trail is engineered to be wide enough to take adaptive mountain bike trikes and quads along its entire length, making it a fairly unique facility in Britain. Make no mistake though, this is no all ability trail; there are significant climbs, bermed corners (a series of 10 back to back in the ‘Slipway’ section alone) and step-drops. The MinorTaur is a great place to learn and hone your off-road skills, but for all riders, able and disabled alike, the trail will take a degree of fitness, skill and nerve to complete in style.

With this trail, the centre is able to offer genuine mountain biking experiences to a wider range of riders, though as with mountain biking in general, it is not going to be appealing, suitable or indeed possible for every adaptive cyclist. Equally, the rough nature of the trail will mean that it might not be suitable for all adaptive bikes. If in doubt about the suitability of your own equipment, why not make use of the ‘Challenge your Boundaries’ adaptive MTBs.

The bikes

Hase Kettwiesel Ride

Hase Kettwiesel Ride This 3-wheeled ‘delta’ (double wheels at the back) recumbent bike offers potential solutions for riders such as those recovering from a stroke, and those with arm loss or weakness, balance problems and/or unilateral leg loss or weakness. Our version of the bike has pedal operated brakes and gear controls all on one handlebar, so it is especially suited to riders with arm issues.

Hase Kettwiesel Handcycle

Hase Kettwiesel Handcycle This 3-wheeled ‘delta’ (double wheels at the back) handcycle is based around the same frame as the ‘Ride.’ It is suitable for riders with a wide variety of spinal cord injuries and leg weakness/loss.

One-off Handcycle

One-off handbike in use This is a ‘tadpole’ (double wheels at the front) 3-wheel hand-cycle capable of serious off-road duties. This bike is suitable for riders with a wide variety of spinal cord injuries and leg weakness/loss and is one of very few hand cycles which can deal with the conflicting needs of propulsion and steering, both of which are required at the same time on an off-road climb.

See a One-Off in action on the trails at Coed y Brenin here

How do I get to use the bikes?

All adaptive MTB riders will need to pass through a half-day accreditation process before they are able to take out ‘Challenge your Boundaries’ bikes without one of our leaders. Once accredited, they may book and take out equipment whenever it is available, for a rental fee (currently £25). There is no charge for the accreditation process if you attend one of the scheduled sessions (listed on our Facebook page), but there is the same rental fee for use of the bike. The accreditation process will show you how to operate the bike, tell you the limits of where you may take the bike, and make sure you can deal with simple trail-side repairs like mending a puncture. We will also want to see that you can ride up the hill to get back to the visitors' centre, and that in the event of a minor crash (yes, they probably will happen now and again!) that you can right the bike and get back on it. If all of this is OK then you will receive a bike specific ‘solo’ accreditation.

An ‘Accompanied’ rider may rent the specific bike only when they are accompanied by another rider. Accompanied status will be awarded to riders who are over 18 and can complete the accreditation process without assistance, with the exception of remounting an upturned bike, using a bike pump and the hill-climb, which may all be done with assistance.

For a MTB riders who cannot self-transfer, for under-18s, and for adults who require a carer to be present, we can offer bike and person specific ‘Companion Pair’ accreditation, which allows for the presence of a named and non-transferable assistant to assist with the accreditation. For Companion Pair riders to rent out equipment, both partners must be present, and the companion must not be responsible for any other riders (as this becomes leadership).

I’d like to use the bikes for riders in my group

If you are a mountain bike leader with either an MBLA trail cycle leader award (or higher), CTC Trail Leader, or MIAS level II leadership qualification, you can undertake a two day accreditation course covering disability awareness, adaptive cycling, leading riders with a disability, skills coaching, bike set-up and site specific issues concerning terrain limits and emergency procedures. Following successful accreditation, leaders may hire any of the bikes for use within the trail centre.

Dates for the leader accreditation courses are posted on our Facebook page.

Contact Us

For further information about how to start making use of this great new facility contact Graham O’Hanlon at graham@ohanlon.co.uk

Snowdonia National Park Sport Wales Forestry Commission Wales Disability Sport Wales Mawddach Rotary Club