photo: Ray Wood
Mark Cavendish, Llanberis photo: Ray Wood

Road Cycling in North Wales

Some of the toughest cycling challenges in Britain are found in North Wales. For good measure add in spectacular scenery and quiet roads and it’s small wonder that it is the destination of choice for many cyclists. It’s also where Sir Dave Brailsford, one of British Cycling’s most famous names spent his childhood!

Classic mountain pass rides such as Pen y Pass together with the Ogwen and Llanberis circuits are big attractions in the very heart of the mountains but outlying regions offer equal and sometimes more formidable challenges. Bwlch y Groes, once the most dreaded climb on the Milk Race Tour of Britain is found in the Southeast corner of Snowdonia. At 546 mts above sea level it’s the highest pass in Wales and was once used by the Austin Motor Company to test gearbox technology – so how about testing yours? Not too far away is the Horseshoe Pass above Llangollen, another grueller. Moorland roads between Bala and Trawsfynnydd can be linked with riding the Crimea Pass out of Blaenau Ffestiniog.

If the idea of a lung bursting climb up a steep and long mountain pass is not so appealing there is still plenty to come here to do. The Isle of Anglesey is fairly flat and has some wonderful cycle routes along quiet lanes and dedicated cycle ways where no cars are permitted. The coastal cycleway between Llanfairfechan and Talacre is 34 miles in length with minimal up and down and there are only a few short sections of the route on roads with shared traffic. The best thing? Beach stops, café stops and ice cream halts.

From carefree cycle days suitable for all ages to some of the most awesome challenges for the seasoned rider - it's all here.

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Top Road Cycling Venues in North Wales

Pick of the Pops

50 Shades of Great

  • Bwlch Y Groes The Mt Ventoux of Wales, if not the UK! Taken from the south this is one of the classiest, hardest hills around. Steep for a long time at around 14% and then, near the top it ramps up to nearly 30% for a short section when you are at your limit. There is absolutely no chance to recover anywhere on the climb. The road surface is also a bit off-putting, being both gravely and steeply cambered. It is also narrow, so there is little room for weaving, and great big ditches either side of the road ready to swallow you and your bike if you weaken!

photo: Simon Panton

Out of the Saddle

  • Prenteg Hill This is an absolute gem, which is amazingly steep and goes on forever. Expect lots of super sharp - you will be out of the saddle for most of this climb, with bursting lungs as well! Even when it's all over there is another steep section to get to the actual summit. Best climbed after a hard Alpine col holiday of at least two weeks to get your legs and mind strong enough for the challenge.

photo: Simon Panton