The “Challenge your Boundaries” adaptive mountain bike facility, based at Coed y Brenin trail centre, is sad to announce its closure, following the Snowdonia National Park (SNP) decision to move two of the three project bikes elsewhere. The SNP is to relocate the bikes out of the National Park to Plas Menai near Caernarfon, where they will form part of the resources of Gwynedd Accessible Cycling Hub. The SNP’s justification is that they will see more regular use at this facility.
Although the “Challenge your Boundaries” project has organised grass-roots adaptive cycling open days on the Mawddach Trail and at the other end of the scale some high-mountain epic journeys, these were promotional activities and the core business was always to provide adaptive mountain bikes (MTB) and a mechanism (an accreditation process) by which disabled riders could gain everyday access to them. The aim was to allow such riders to enjoy the trails at Coed y Brenin in the same way that other visitors can already do so, i.e. by contacting the bike shop and booking a rental. The project was only involved at the accreditation phase, and the remaining process was the same as for any other bike rental. Without the bikes, there can be no rental, and without rentals, then any role in providing accreditation is redundant.
At the time of the project’s inception in 2011, this provision of a full time adaptive MTB rental facility was unique within Britain, and remains one of only a handful of venues to be able to provide this service. With Wales’ internationally renowned mountain bike trail centres, this was also a highly appropriate facility to be based here.
Challenge your Boundaries coordinator Graham O’Hanlon said:
“It would have been nice to think that an initiative such as the Gwynedd Accessible Cycling Hub would act as a feeder to our project for disabled riders who get the cycling bug and want to try something a bit more challenging. As the stated aim of the Hub is one of ‘improving infrastructure and opportunities for disabled people,’ we had not expected that instead it would come at the cost of an existing accessible facility.”
“We always knew that we were providing for a niche market; like mountain biking in general, adaptive MTB requires an element of strength and a degree of skill, and it was never going to suit everyone. However, we strongly believe that accessibility to sport means access at all levels of participation, and we were providing opportunities for higher end participants. ”
“Historically the Park authority has been a great supporter of our project, and I can sympathise with the desire to move the bikes to get the maximum usage; I’d be the first to say that we had not seen anything like the rider uptake we had hoped for at Coed y Brenin. However, this is perhaps a more complex issue than it might at first seem, and in general the centralising of facilities to urban settings is a critical problem threatening rural communities across Britain. With the time and effort invested in the project I’m perhaps not in a position to claim objectivity at this moment in time, but the stripping of resources from existing projects within the Park to furnish new ones in a town outside of its borders seems like a particularly odd choice of direction for a National Park Authority.”
“We’d like to thank all those who have helped us over the years, especially the volunteers of Aberdyfi Search & Rescue Team and South Snowdonia Search & Rescue Team who provided backup-support for some of our more ambitious rides, and we wish Gwynedd Accessible Cycling Hub all the best for the future,” added Graham.