Just how good is the gravel in the Elan Valley?

Trevor Ward ventures into the Outdoors Capital of Wales to find out if it’s worthy of its moniker. Spoiler – it is...

Elan Valley
(Image credit: Andy Jones)

We arrive in the pretty mid-Wales market town of Rhayader at the start of its July carnival. The outdoor seats of the Elan Hotel are busy with officials stamping the cards of people who have completed the carnival’s Treasure Hunt so we share a table with a gentleman supping a pint who introduces himself as Pete the Gas. He’s the town’s gas appliance fitter who is waiting for a lift home from Bob the Butcher.

“He’s a bit late because he’s been busy dealing with Trev the Barbecue,” he explains. It turns out Trev the Barbecue is also Pete’s “apprentice”, despite being 78-years old. “He’s a fit fella but he does like his sausages,” explains Pete.

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After cutting his teeth on local and national newspapers, James began at Cycling Weekly as a sub-editor in 2000 when the current office was literally all fields. 

Eventually becoming chief sub-editor, in 2016 he switched to the job of full-time writer, and covers news, racing and features.

A lifelong cyclist and cycling fan, James's racing days (and most of his fitness) are now behind him. But he still rides regularly, both on the road and on the gravelly stuff.