Like our rivers, the choice of cycling in Ceredigion can vary from gentle, undulating routes or fast descents, which, inevitably can be combined with challenging uphills, but which are always rewarded by magnificent views. Our lanes are quiet, and there's plenty of off road cycling too.
Cycling trails and routes in Ceredigion
The Ystwyth Trail is a 20 mile (32km) route between Aberystwyth and Tregaron, mostly following the track of the old Great Western Railway line. This means that there are good sections of level, off road cycling, suitable for families with young children. The route between Aberystwyth to Llanfarian is almost all on a tarmac surface, and skirts around the hill of Pendinas hillfort. From Llanilar, which has easy parking, there is a 4 mile traffic free section where the former railway track closely follows the river Ystwyth towards Trawsgoed and the Black Covert picnic area. Spot the railway infrastructure, such as the old platform and bridges along the route.
Another excellent off road section is the gravel path along the edge of Cors Caron nature reserve. There's parking at the nature reserve where you will also find picnic benches and toilets.
The complete trail is only suitable for experienced cyclists as the route crosses public highways at several points, and the section between Trawsgoed and Cors Caron is along the road, which has some steep sections and several bends.
The Ystwyth Trail forms part of Sustrans Route 81 (Lôn Cambria) linking Aberystwyth with Shrewsbury and Route 82 (Lôn Teifi) linking Aberystwyth to Cardigan and Fishguard. The routes are the same between Aberystwyth and Llanilar where they diverge.
After crossing the watershed into the upper Teifi valley and Cors Caron the 98-mile (158km) Lon Teifi route continues on to Tregaron. From here it follows country lanes and minor roads to Lampeter and onwards via Llandysul and Newcastle Emlyn towards the sea at Cardigan. The final section of route 81 takes you to Fishguard in Pembrokeshire.
Lon Cambria is a long distance cycle route that crosses the heart of Mid Wales between Aberystwyth and Shrewsbury. The 113-mile (182km) route is a journey along river valleys, trails and mountain roads. It detours into the Elan Valley to travel beside the beautiful reservoirs to avoid a shorter but tougher cross country scramble.
Several long distance Audax cycling routes pass through Ceredigion, such as the 'Elan and Ystwyth' and 'Tregaron Dragon'. The challenging Brevet Cymru starts in Chepstow and heads up to Tregaron and then descends to the Cardigan Bay coast at New Quay before returning all the way back to Chepstow!
Aberystwyth is the destination for another 300 mile brevet from Poole in Dorset. The Audax UK website has details of organised audax events as well as permanent routes for experienced cyclists; using a system of timed checkpoints, validates and records every successful ride.
Mountain Biking in Ceredigion
Ceredigion makes and excellent base for mountain biking , with great tracks and bridleways to follow on do-it-yourself trips or rides with local guides. See the panel for some suggested routes.
The mountain biking centre at Bwlch Nant yr Arian near Aberystwyth is great for views as well as technical challenges.
From Bwlch Nant yr Arian there's a choice of three routes, each with a different character:
The Summit trail is exactly what the name suggests, superb views and flowing single track rides. The Pendam trail also has fantastic views, combined with some technically challenging sections. The third, Syfydrin, trail extends out onto the open hills.
A purpose-built 'pump track' has a number of loops with 'rollers' and 'table tops' - features that riders of all abilities can have have a go at, practice their skills on, or just warm up before taking to the longer trails which start from the same spot near the visitor centre.
Many of Ceredigion's bridleways are also suitable for mountainbiking.
With the natural mountain biking terrain of the Cambrian mountains there is a fantastic choice of routes. The Elan Valley to the east has several marked trails, and the forest tracks of Coed Trallwm and Brechfa Forest to the south have friendly trails as well as challenging rides for the more experienced thrill seeker. To the north, Machynlleth, in the Dyfi Biosphere is the base for Climach-X, a series of mountain biking trails in the Dyfi forest, and not far away is Coed y Brenin, another of Natural Resources Wales mountain biking centres.
Another form of biking that is growing in popularity is gravel biking, with bikes which are more durable than a road bike and much faster than a mountain bike. Ceredigion is blessed with some of the finest adventure cycling in the whole of the UK and has great routes that combine gravel trails, narrow country roads and bridleways.
Local experts Summit Cycles of Aberystwyth, have curated a number of routes of varying lengths and ability levels. They describe the routes as ranging from "short spins to epic marathon length grinders" all all with guaranteed views to enjoy.
Check out the routes recommended by adventure sports event specialists Red Bull - two of their top six routes are in Ceredigion. Longer distance bikepacking routes with overnight stops at bothies and campsites include a route that takes in the Claerddu Bothy in the hills above Pontrhydfendigaid and the forest tracks of the Hafod Estate.
Ceredigion Cycling Clubs
Ceredigion has a very active cycling community from which professional cycling stars have emerged, including Gruff Lewis of Aberystwyth and the Tarling brothers of Aberaeron. The clubs are active in a number of disciplines including Road Racing, Time Trials, Mountain Biking, Triathlon, Duathlon, Touring and Track, and organise regular rides and competitions.
Ystwyth Cycling Club is Ceredigion's largest and longest established club. Formed in Aberystwyth in 1952 the Ystwyth Cycling Club now has approximately 100 members who are active in a number of cycling disciplines, including Road Racing, Time Trials, Mountain Biking, Triathlon, Duathlon, Touring and Track. The Club organises weekend rides throughout the year, and are key partners in the Aberystwyth Cycle Festival, organise the Angela Davis Memorial Road Race (Cat 2/3) and the 'Tour of the Mining Valleys’ race (cat E/1/2/3), renowned for its tough climbs.
West Wales Cycle Racing Club is based in Abaeraeron, the start point of the 'Queen Stage' of the 2021 Tour of Britain. During the summer, the club has skill sessions for youngsters in safe off-road locations. Anyone is welcome to attend, including visitors to the area.
Velo Teifi is an an active club with an emphasis on enjoyment rather than ‘head down/ bum up’ speed sessions (although they do that too!) with road rides most weekends throughout the year as well as mountain bike trips. Club website has suggestions and gpx guides to local rides. Velo Teifi are the organisers of the ‘Preseli Angel’ cyclo-sportive each early May Bank Holiday weekend in nearby Newport in north Pembrokeshire; this event is a firm favourite in the Sportive calendar offering great routes and a friendly atmosphere.
Sarn Helen Club is a sister club to the long established Sarn Helen Running Club based in Lampeter. Caron Cycling Club is a relatively new club, whose members enjoy great cycling country around their base in Tregaron. These neighbouring clubs often organise rides together. making the most of the wide open spaces of the Cambrian Mountains and quiet roads of the upper Teifi valley. One popular route is the circuit around the great raised bog of Cors Caron. The ride between the two Teifi Valley towns is another route popular with beginners and enthusiasts alike as it follows the gentle route of the Teifi along quiet backroads. Together, they are the perfect base for mountain biking and gravel routes that take you into and across the Cambrian Mountains.
Aberystwyth Cycle Festival
Aberystwyth's annual Aberystwyth Cycle Festival brings together a spectacular downhill mountain biking competition and an even tougher uphill challenge, as well as the 'Welsh Wild West' sportive with a choice of route lengths, fun races for children and 'town and gown' criterium races.
With some of Britain's top cyclists making an appearance in Ceredigion, festival visitors can watch the on and off-road action and also experience the beautiful and undiscovered lanes of Ceredigion on their own bikes. The popular Welsh Wild West sportive gives you a choice of four different routes to suit your mood and stamina: Cawr (the giant), Mynach (the monk) Diafol (Devil) and Corrach (the dwarf)
The race details will be available on the British Cycling website when entries are open.
The Gritfest weekend is a family friendly event focused on off-road biking over a mixture of terrain in the Cambrian Mountains. It includes timed special stages on gravel and a mixture of terrain in forestry, around lakes and wild moorland. Children and families can take advantage of youth rider coaching and enjoy outdoor adventures with activities ranging from archery to tree climbing and wildlife encounters.