If You Know, You Know | The Barry Sidings Cafe.

Wideopenmag staffer Lewis Bradley sits down with Barry Sidings Cafe owner Jamie Rowlands to see how they fit into the South Wales cycling community.

11 years in the making, the Barry Sidings Cafe rose out of the popular bike shop The Bike Doctor run by Jamie Rowlands. Lewis Bradley spent the day riding the trails in the hills above the cafe before having a chat with Jamie.

Photos by Matty Davies unless otherwise stated.

Photo by Ben Stallwood.

Tell us, how did Barry Sidings Café come about?

Back when we opened our bike shop, Bike Doctor, 18 years ago it was always a dream to not just have a bike shop but to promote the sport we all come to love within the community. Since then we have grown not just as a shop but as a club. We brought riders of all abilities together, both mountain bikers and road riders co-habit side by side… Something that I believe is pretty special these days!

We always rode the trails at Barry Sidings and being a long forestry road climb to the top it always gave me some time to think. It was and still is my prescription to think of ideas. It’s the necessity top up to keep me stimulated, fresh and buzzing.

11 years after the idea was born on that very climb and a lot of hard work, Barry Sidings Café finally opened its doors last summer.

It combines a bike theme (including workshop and bike hire) with great food and coffee. We wanted to develop something exciting for the local community, something they can be proud of where people of all ages can enjoy lots of activities: Whether it’s mountain biking, kids cycling club, live music gigs, fitness classes and educational talks with schools.

Photo by Barry Sidings Cafe

When setting up, did you take inspiration from other areas in South Wales or the surrounding area?

Inspiration came from everywhere, but I have been lucky enough to visit many amazing places and I have taken things on board. It could be from a riding destination or a local restaurant or café.

Has it benefited the community and cycling in the area?

It certainly has…

Being in the cycle industry I believe it is also our job to help create a buzz around riding. With the help of our club members, friends and the community we built a pump track in a under a week. This has proven invaluable to give the kids as it’s somewhere they can learn and develop their riding. We also have a successful kids’ club for under-11s and our cycling club has been awarded club marc accreditation (recognizing the high standard of coaching our club offer). Upwards of 100 kids have attended our coaching and it humbles me every time I see it.

We have also seen many groups of riders coming to the area to sample the amazing natural trails many travelling from far away. Great for the local economy.

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Photo by Barry Sidings Cafe

We hear you have some trails very close, what they are like?

The place has a long heritage of mountain biking well before any trail centre was ever established in South Wales. One of the first ever DH races was held at Barry Sidings around 25 years ago. Back then Team Raleigh was often seen parked there with the likes of Barrie Clark and Paul Hinton who used it as their regular training ground.

Oh yes the about the trails… There’s some amazing trails nearby. There’s some amazing trails nearby that are steep, natural, techy that will sure put your skills to the test. Many say they are some of the best in South Wales but sshhh… Don’t tell anyone.

Who are the trail builders and riders who shred these trails?

We cant take credit for these trails, some of them have always been there and some are looked after by some well-known local racers and friends.

What are your plans for 2018?

Now the café’s established, we have a lot of ambition and ideas about what’s possible in the area. One of these is to develop the trails in the forest to be gain them official status with further trails being built with emphasis on “flow” designed for all abilities….

Bike hire (including e-bikes from Cube and Orbea). Plans are in place to expand the retail and workshop side of the café, MTB-related events and few more exciting ideas which are under wraps for now. Watch this space!

We have our fingers crossed we continue to be supported by the local authority and land owners and we will do our bit in the regeneration of the Rhondda valleys.

What the hell you may even see a beer tap serving Mützig.

It’s hard to be different in S. Wales how are the trails unique?

It certainly is… South Wales has a massive riding scene I think people are looking for more natural trails. Yes they maybe a little more challenging but they sure give you a huge buzz when you get to the bottom!

Any pleases and thank yous?

We would like to thank our friends and the MTB community for giving us such a great start to the project and the ongoing support of our customers and visitors. And huge thank you to everyone who has taking the time to write some amazing reviews.

You can check out everything the Barry Sidings Cafe offers here, for The Bike Doctor, head to their website here.