During lockdown my other half Nathan decided to re-ignite his childhood passion for Mountain Biking, so when lockdown lifted we used my Cultural Expansion grant to test our riding skills in the Welsh countryside.

Rea and Nathan with their mountain bikes

We booked a two-night stay in a sizable six-berth safari tent (with fully furnished living, dining, kitchen area, Aga included) in Anglesey, close to Coed-y-Brenin, a mountain biking hotspot.

The trails here were colour-graded in a similar way to ski slopes from green through to blue, red and finally the most difficult, black. We started on a three-loop blue trail called the Minor Taur which ran from 3 – 12 km and was estimated to last between 0.5 hours to 2 hours. It had lots of fun features such as stepping stones and swoopy berms (banked corners/turns). I was in my element and started to feel like I was really mastering my technique.  

After two hours on the Minor Taur, we saw signs to a red trail called ‘The Dragon’s Back’. At this point, I pretty much felt like I was ready to receive my Red Bull sponsorship and therefore, I didn’t hesitate when Nathan said let’s go. 

Ten minutes in I quickly realised what a huge mistake I had made and my dreams of a Red Bull sponsorship were obliterated into a thousand pieces of gravel and huge rocks before me – literally! I struggled to navigate my way through the rough terrain with huge tree roots crossing my path and the trail getting narrower with a sudden drop. In only 30 minutes I had come off my bike a dozen times and even headbutted a tree. However, I was determined to keep going and not give up! 

Two hours later we were still climbing and The Dragon’s Back still wasn’t insight so we realised we should probably check our trail map. We realised we had embarked on a 32 km trail ‘suitable for proficient mountain bikers with good off-road riding skills. It’s long, it’s tough, it will stretch you physically, mentally and has left many broken souls.” I can confirm this!

Luckily, we spotted an escape route which cut across the park and led us straight back to the rental shop. I walked away and didn’t look back. 

Although I barely walked away with my mind, body and soul that day, I have a suspicious feeling that won’t be the last time I hit the trails.