Sitting in the office at 9.15am on a Tuesday morning I’m on the telephone to a top journo from one of the national mountain bike magazines. They are interested in the progression of Cognation; ‘What’s next?’ ‘When?’ ‘What about Gethin?’
On finishing the call I sip my coffee (which has gone rather cold!) and start to think about the project. Chronologically, my mind goes on a journey from the early days when Cognation (or the Cycling Centre of Excellence for South Wales –as it was known then) was just a proposal, to the building of new sections of trail on Y-Wal, a new car park at Cwmcarn and the opening of the ‘Rookie’.
I then start to ponder about what’s next; the reopening of Penhydd, Bike Park Wales at Gethin and more XC and Downhill trails at Cwmcarn. Plus the Gyfylchi Loop that will be opening, if all goes to plan, in December. This will be a little cracker – an extra loop built on Y Wal near Bryn Bettws Lodge; plus the adult Bike Park that we’re currently working on (more about this over next few weeks).
Sitting back in my chair I now start to wish that I was no longer in the office. Looking out the window, I can see that the grey cloud has lifted and there’s a small showing of blue sky. It would be nice to go for a ride, have some fresh air, get a sweat on, get muddy and have a buzz.
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Unfortunately, this is not possible as I have a meeting at 10am to discuss ways in which we can help local tourism businesses in South Wales benefit from the growing mountain bike industry.
As our product offering grows in South Wales, as we build more trails, more facilities and launch a new commercial bike park we will need more accommodation, more places for bikers to eat and even grab a beer.
It is when you start to think about these economic factors that you come to understand how fundamental mountain biking has become as a tourism product in South Wales (not just South – but the whole of Wales). In 2011 just under 300, 000 people were recorded at trail centres throughout Wales and between 2006/2007 UK Mountain bikers spent an annual average of £24 million in Wales.
Mountain Biking has grown and developed in Wales with the first trail centre in Coed-Y-Brenin opening in 1997; then the 9feet.com opening in Afan Forest Park in 2000; 2003 saw Wales officially launch five mountain bike centres and in 2006 Brechfa opened.
However, 2011 – 2013 is our time, Cognations chance to write (or build for that matter) its chapter in the story of mountain biking in Wales.
A quick glance at the digital time on my out of date 1980’s office telephone reveals that it is now 9.42am – I’d better shift otherwise I’ll be late for the meeting!