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A whole new world of exploration and excitement opens up for disabled people tomorrow (Saturday, 22 October) when one of the most beautiful areas of Wales comes within their reach.
Forestry Commission Wales has been working with community group Discover Dolgellau on the “Challenge Your Boundaries” project to enable disabled people to enjoy the thrill of mountain biking in Coed-y-Brenin Forest Park, near Dolgellau.
Mountain bikers come from far and wide to ride the white-knuckle trails which have gained a world-wide reputation – and now disabled people will be able to experience a similar adrenaline rush.
The Snowdonia National Park Authority has donated two adaptive bikes to Discover Dolgellau for the Challenge Your Boundaries adaptive mountain bike project.
The donation of the adaptive mountain bikes will cement the Forestry Commission Wales centre's position as the first truly inclusive mountain bike destination in the United Kingdom.
Chairman of the Snowdonia National Park Authority, Caerwyn Roberts, said,
“As an authority, we are aware of the barriers that disabled people face in their everyday life and that it is our duty as public bodies to try to reduce these barriers.”
Disabled riders will demonstrate the adaptive mountain bikes during the official launch of the project at the Forestry Commission Wales centre at 11am on Saturday, 22 October.
It’s the latest phase in Forestry Commission Wales’s aim to provide equal access opportunities for all sectors of society, which gained momentum with the recent opening of the MinorTaur, a blue-grade intermediate trail suitable for adaptive bikes.
The MinorTaur sits alongside iconic routes such as The Tarw (The Bull, in Welsh) and The Beast of Brenin but is being built in phases to a specific design criteria to allow more people to experience the thrill of mountain biking in Welsh Government woodlands.
The ambitious project has been over three years in the planning and forms part of the Gwynedd Council-led Eryri Centre of Excellence partnership, which is part funded by the EU’s Convergence European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.
Graham O'Hanlon of Challenge Your Boundaries said, “In our experience, there seems to be the perception in some quarters that disabled people should not be exposed to risk.
“Our aim is to encourage risk management and judgement in those competent to do so, and to create a suitable support structure for those not able. We are not going to be wrapping anyone up in cotton wool.
"We are simply looking to make authentic mountain bike experiences available to a wider range of riders. The equipment may be different, but the need for a degree of fitness, skill and nerve remains the same. There are no safety rails here, just miles of rolling trails to explore and enjoy."
Forestry Commission Wales Recreation Ranger Graeme Stringer said, “It’s great to be able to work with community groups who have the vision and creativity to be able to add value to the trails and facilities which we are providing at Coed-y-Brenin Forest Park.”
The adaptive mountain bikes will be kept at Coed-y-Brenin visitor centre and Challenge Your Boundaries will provide training and guidance for disabled people and local outdoor activity providers who may want to use them for clients.
NOTES TO EDITORS
A total of 14.3 per cent of Wales is covered by woodlands. Of this, 38% (126,000 hectares/311,000 acres) is owned by the Welsh Government.
Forestry Commission Wales is the Welsh Government’s department of forestry and manages these woodlands on its behalf.
For more information on recreation at Coed-y-Brenin, contact Recreation Manager John Taylor on 01341 440747, mobile 07919393717, email email@example.com
For more information on Challenge Your Boundaries, contact Graham and Jacky O’Hanlon on 01341 430628, email firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
More information on the woodlands of Wales is available on www.forestry.gov.uk/wales
Press office contact: Clive Davies on 0300 068 0061, mobile 07788 190922, email firstname.lastname@example.org