All posts by Richard Ford

Brecon Trip 2018

We are off to Brecon to sample the delights of the local riding.  We have booked a bunk barn that sleeps up to twenty. Folks not staying at the bunk barn are welcome to join on the rides. The rough plan is:-

Friday meet up at Cwmcarn about 11 ride both  trails.  Get to the bunk barn for 4.30.  Go to the pub for refreshments.

Saturday local led ride with some hills, 3 hour loop, lunch, kip, then a pub ride down the canal and round the reservoir in the afternoon / evening, social like.

Sunday Brecon gap from the door with extra loop for those who want it, possible “mile” (5,280 feet or 1,609m) of climbing involved.

Monday – load the vehicles, local bimble, lunch then go home.

For more info please contact Tom Scott

In search of a dry bit

It has been quite wet recently.  This novice friendly ride will take in the trails from Barbury trying to take in the less muddy ones without resorting to road riding (well keeping it to a minimum).

The planned route will be roughly 20 miles with some climbing involved.  The route is totally novice friendly and will be ridden at a steady pace.

Despite all of our best efforts expect to get a bit muddy.

Ladies ‘Cake Burner ‘ride – 21st January 2018

Words and photos by Debbie Davies

The Ladies rides have the reputation of always being on the best weather days. This ride bucked the trend well and truly.

I sat in Coate Water car park, far too early for the agreed meeting time, watching the rain hammer down on my windscreen, driven by the increasing winds. It was going to be foul. I was fully prepared for the wet, having packed suitable jacket and waterproof shorts, waterproof gloves and a helmet liner to keep out the draughts. I did put out a warning on the ride details to makes sure to wear enough as the Ridgeway can be a bit blowy in the winter so looking at the spare clothes in my car I appeared to have heeded the advice.

Sue was as early as me, parked at the other side of the car park. Soon after Trudy arrived and finally Sharon who had run and ridden the day before and for some daft reason thought she needed more exercise.

We rode out from Coate via the motorway bridge and had our first indication of how cold it actually was. The rain was going to be variable throughout the day and at this point it gave us a little respite, enough to reach the byway and the mud. The ride was designed to avoid the worst of the heavy going but this was seriously sloppy, it was going to be a messy one.

We carried on up towards Hackpen Hill battling now icy rain, stinging our faces as it was pushed by a crosswind. We briefly stopped to adjust our Buffs over our noses, highwayman style. It looked so comical in the awful conditions that I had to take a photo of us all. There were comments about whether this was normal behaviour.

The route after Hackpen has a lovely descent into a dip before a climb out towards Fyfield Down. By now the visibility had gone and the usual views were just a memory …it was seriously wet and very cold. It was then we realised we were the only people up there, mountain bikers seem to be a different breed.

We resorted to walking part of the byway as it had turned so slippery, ably demonstrated by Sue who had her front wheel wash out and unceremoniously depositing her in even more water and mud as a result. Fyfield Down is a glorious area, but not this day, we were now all cold with numb fingers …my waterproof gloves leak, and frozen toes. There were the smallest signs of a mutiny in the ranks at this point, with talks of short cuts but the draw of cake was stronger and we pressed on to Marlborough.

The Café had become a sanctuary from the bitter cold, it took us all a few minutes to be able to operate fingers to remove helmets and open purses, to the amusement of a few diners. Finally cake and tea was ordered and we sat warming our hands around hot mugs and slowly defrosted. The café staff were wonderful , they wouldn’t let us mop up as we left and even provided us with latex work gloves so we could put back on our now dripping cycle gloves  more easily . We promised we would go back in the summer, clean and dry and buy more cake.

We made our way home, feeling much happier at the prospect now we had thawed out. The old railway path we were going back along was sheltered from the wind and the rain and I think we actually enjoyed the final leg, chatting most the way. The last 10 miles passed quite quickly now there was no headwind and very soon we were back at Coate car park. Sometimes we chat before we move away, this day we had already said our goodbyes before we even stopped the bike wheels moving and hastily packed up saturated kit and muddy bikes. The lure of a hot bath was very strong.

The ladies of MB Swindon always support their rides and make them special …this one was in a different category, many thanks to Trudy , Sue and Sharon for turning up at all  to ride in that weather and then sticking with it to the end.



So long, and thanks for all the fish ride

Tom Scott will be leading this novice friendly route.  Tom writes

 “Tom Scott will lead this short and sweet ride on his ever-popular all-weather route.  The ride is mainly gravel with some tarmac and mud.  This will be Tom’s last ride for a while but fans of his will be pleased to hear that he is working on some interesting routes for next summer. He’s such a great ride leader, and a genuinely nice bloke as well, cracking fellow, salt of the earth, one of your own and will be missed by everyone. I’m sure you will all join me in wishing Tom all the best for the future. “
Tom continues
“There will be the opportunity to buy Tom a drink at the Sun Inn straight after the ride.”


Tom Scott with his award for ‘most prolific ride leader’

Ladies Christmas FoD gathering

16th December 2017

Words by Debbie Davies


Photos by Debbie Davies and friends

A little idea came into my head one day last February. Just before Christmas Kat and I had held a club gathering at the Croft Trail for our club and it occurred to me then it might be fun to do just a Ladies one. The idea kept popping up all through the summer until in August I decided to action that idea. I contacted other Ladies from local Ladies only groups and asked them what they thought, it seemed to be a winning plan. So on it went. From the original 8 ladies I contacted the numbers spread via FB to 17, spreading the word amongst their riders. In September the date went in the calendar. We were now official.

Helen from Dame Forest of Dean group had arranged to have mince pies and mulled wine ready at the end of the ride, Tinsel and club shirts were part of the dress code so we would all know what clubs we were riding with . The ride organisation was gaining momentum and before we knew it we were now being offered lunch too. Ladies just kept adding their name to the event list and my idea of a little social with maybe 20 ladies attending was, all those months ago, was now a staggering 77 ladies.

The week before like great chunks of the country, we had snow. Not masses near Swindon, but that was not the case in the Forest of Dean. They were covered in the stuff, enough that the trail centre had to close for a couple of days. When they were able to open again the trail pixies and Forestry Commission had been hard at work to make the trails usable after all the fallen trees, we were lucky it still looked good to go, the trails were ready. Then came the message that the family trail, that we were using for the morning social, was still impassable due to fallen trees and frozen icy snow blocked tracks. A hasty change of plan took place and along with it some cancellations. The weather was starting to have an impact on another week it seemed.

I set off with a friend to The Forest of Dean, the early hour still very much swathed in darkness, to make sure I had enough time to organise everything. One of the Ladies had got there even earlier than us, unsure of what the local roads would bring. An hour later, and expecting a considerably reduced gathering, we were set for MB Swindon’s first mass Ladies club event. However, despite the weathers best efforts, we seemed to have amassed 72 Ladies, ready to hit the now amended route of the Verderers trail. With Helen at the helm to keep the pace steady due to some icy trails, we set off. It was an amazing sight to see so many riders winding their way up the trail with tinsel bedecked bikes. Malvern Maidens made a big impact with their Unicorn themed shirts and Unicorn fairy lights. We had Father Christmas, Mother Christmas, several Elves and a great many Father Christmas hats all pedaling their way around the now sun washed trails. The usual photo stops, regrouping pauses and just general chat stops made for a wonderful atmosphere and there was the usual encouragement for those who were new to the trail centre.

2 hours later and with everyone safely back without incident, we made our way to the café and the room set up for our mince pies and mulled wine, hard to miss as the winter spice smell permeated the area as soon as you entered . Pedalabikeaway and the café staff had done us proud. The mulled wine was well received as it was still very cold on the ride despite the winter sun, and the pasta lunch was just the perfect meal to top up energy supplies.

In the afternoon we all set off to do our own thing , some riding other trails with Katy Curd as their guide , others headed for the skills loops and the red trails and some Ladies headed home having made the very big effort to travel from as far as Taunton and Kent.

10 months ago I had this little idea, on the 16th December 72 Ladies made it a reality. Many thanks to all those Ladies who made the day very special, who gave up their time to support other riders , who made the day such a fun and memorable one for me especially , it only ever started as a small thought …Thanks too the Staff of Pedalabikeaway for all their work in making sure we were fed and watered so well .






Our apologies for the late notice, but this ride has now been cancelled.
Following the Wansdyke, the Ridgeway and the Wessex Ridgeway we will do large loop from Small Grain to Avebury returning via Cherhill. We will be taking in some new sections of trail for a route in the area so those that have ridden with me before should still be treated to something new.
This route is actually the reverse of a solo ride I did recently as I thought it would be better the other way round and it means we get a 2km fast grassy descent included!
Please bring enough food and drink for a 3-4 hour ride as there are no planned cafe stops. However, if we are treated with a pleasant day, we could stop for a cuppa in Avebury.
Due to the distance it may not be suitable for novice riders but it wont be a technically demanding ride so anyone with an average fitness level who can ride a bike should be ok.

Ladies Forest Christmas Meet

Debbie, from MB Swindon, would like to invite you to an informal social ride at the Pedalabikeaway trail centre, taking in the family friendly and non technical Green graded trail.

We will meet outside the centres café at 9.45 for a 10am depart. We have invited many other Ladies mountain bike groups to join us to create an easy going pre Christmas ride suitable for all fitness levels and riding abilities. It will be at a casual pace with the emphasis most definitely on social and chat.

On returning to the café it is hoped that we will have mince pies and mulled wine to end our event.

The afternoon will be up to individuals, feel free to ride the blue and red trails, repeat the family green trail or maybe just chat over a coffee. None of the trails will be officially guided and therefore it is suggested that you ride to a level you are comfortable with and that suit your abilities. We hope you will meet some like minded riders and enjoy all the Forest of Dean trails have to offer.

Please note that there are car park charges, £7 for the day but this is a Forestry Commission run car park, so refer to their website for full parking information. Pay machine at the car park

Dress code: Tinsel, fairy light, and a club jersey if you have one.

UPDATE Friday 15 December 18:50

After last weekend’s snow the family cycle trail still has obstacles across it, so the plan for the day will need to be changed.

The below is an update from Debbie:

“Ladies this will make a difference to plans tomorrow , it looks as though the green trail is a no go . So the plan of a social chat ride first has probably gone out the window. We may have to hit the blue trail and Launchpad first instead …Sorry for the change of plan …lunch will still be on but the rest of the morning will probably be an open play session”

Barbury Beast

Tom Scott will be leasing this MBS Club ride, probably not for the novice
Prepare yourselves for a long day in the saddle for an all day adventure. Tom Scott will be leading this ‘longer than usual’ ride around the local area taking in all our favourite bits.
Please bring food, tools, food, spares, food and drink, oh, and more food… and make sure you have appropriate clothing for a day out on high ground in poor weather conditions.
This ride will be ridden at a relaxed pace, and the route may be cut short if the weather or ground conditions are very bad.
The aim is to be back at Barbury by 4pm, so bring lights if you are planning to ride up from home.

Battle of West Ridge Woods – Ride Report

Thought I’d get there early, to check out the first part of this ride, as the last time I rode it, it was dark and I wasn’t paying attention, Just after 9 I got there and blow me down with a ton of bricks, the Duller brothers and Kevin were already there, fettling with their steeds, keen me thinks.

¼ mile into the ride we stopped for our first photo opportunity, pretty impressive view it is too

This part of the ride I would be winging it, although id ridden it a few times it’s been at night in gopping weather, what could go wrong.

The trail gods were good to us today, the ground was relatively dry, which was handy as this section was a tad off camber and full of roots,   (don’t look at the roots, don’t look at the roots) everybody made it through

Started to head over to North Nibley now, there is some real nice single-track through here, not over technical but you need to concentrate a bit as you can soon come unstuck, riding up toward the monument we went right, this is where the groovy kids have been building all the downhill tracks, I do suffer from all the tracks look the same but luckily I chose a track that didn’t kill us all and was a bit of fun, steep, twisty and bermy (if that’s a word), first climb of the day that made me change colour.

Back on the top we started to head back where we came from but in a slightly different direction, this was planned, honest.

I was amazed how dry the tracks were, especially after the rain we’d had in the previous week

I nearly lost a few in here, but plenty of loud talking bought them back into the flock

This track bought us back to where we parked the vehicles, but the ride wasn’t over, up the road and drop left into a tasty little track, that has seen many a good rider sat on there derriere , so well done all for not taking close inspection of the ground here, although I here Sean preferred to ride down there on his front wheel J, this part of the ride is familiar to those of you who have ridden Heaven of the South before, prone to being a bit muddy, not to bad today though, we got to the part of the trail where it starts to go downhill, it’s a tasty track that goes into a gully with a gate near the bottom ( there used to be two, my crash on a previous ride sorted that one out) I went on to open the gate and catch a few photos

We were now down in Waterly Bottom with stuff on our bikes that didn’t smell like your conventional mud.

Pretty valley this though

We were now heading over to Stinchcombe, to one of my favourite climbs in this area, words can describe it, we got to the bottom of the hill and I told the skinnier members of the group to wait at the crossroad of the tracks, when we got there they had gone straight on, unlucky, a bit of shouting and the racing snakes rejoined the group, off again on this delightful climb all the way up to Stinchcombe golf club, rode round the perimeter of the golf club and made our way over to Breakheart quarry. Small discussion whether we stopped for a break now or did the switch backs up and down and then had our break, we all opted for lunch later, this is a great piece of woodland to ride and fair play to the people that built it and maintain it

Switch back climb done we make our way to the shed in Breakheart quarry, this is a great service to use if you’re up this way, the shed has a log burner, table and chairs, coffee machine and a cool drinks vending machine, just put your 50p in the honesty box.

Rested we make start making our way over too North Nibley, which entails going down a steep gulley which was full of leaves, which makes for interesting riding, we all made it down and made our way over to the last climb of the day, this climb is straight up, dreaming of switch backs I pushed my bike up, at last we had made it back to the monument at North Nibley, a few went up the tower which is worth doing if you haven’t before, some great views over to the severn bridges and beyond

Just a short ride from here through the woods back to the vehicles

Thanks to Michael, Gary, Kevin, Jane, Dave, Kate, Steve, Martin and Sean for making it a great day out


Getting out of Monmouth was the most likely part of our journey where we were going to make a mistake and I didn’t want to miss any turnings early on in the ride. So 18 patient riders had a bit of a stop-start start to the ride until we got off the road and began following the River Wye south towards Redbrook.
A twisty trail that had a distinct footpath feel to it eventually brought us to Redbrook. A small village on the edge of Gloucestershire, and a village we would ride through 3 times today as we would fan out in various directions including across the border into Wales.
From Redbrook we made a steady 200m climb up above Whitebrook towards New Mills. The cool November air that had us wrapping up in Monmouth now seemed like a distant memory as we shed layers after warming ourselves nicely on the climb up.
As you may know this route hadn’t been ridden before by any of us so surprises were in store and our first one was probably the highlight of the ride.  While looking for my planned exit from the top of the woods I found what looked like a fun trail down so decided, after a review of the map, that we should take it.
Pwllplythin Wood delivered a gnarly leaf strewn treat that dropped us almost all of our 200m in a very short distance. We picked up the scent of my original plan and free wheeled the rest of the way back down towards the river and our trail back to Redbrook.
After we had a stop for lunch we lost Gary P. as his rear shock was misbehaving and he’ll be disappointed to hear that he missed plenty more climbing.
After our second visit to Redbrook we climbed towards Offas Dyke and then followed Valley Brook in a large U shape to what can only politely be described as a very muddy second descent back to the village! Yes we got a bit mucky on our second loop and the descent, while it definitely delivered some smiles and laughter it was almost certainly the muddiest track I’ve ridden in a long time.
We were in Redbrook again for our third and final visit and then a fairly stiff climb up Duffields Lane.  Mostly track and solid surface it wasn’t too bad and eventually brought us to a farm at the top, where we sniffed out the bridleway to bring us down to Wysham Lane.  It was fast and fun but the off road section was over a little too quickly and we were soon on tarmac and pedaling back into Monmouth.
After navigating some traffic lights and a subway we found our way back to the start.
The weather had been kind to us and though we were mostly covered in mud, we were pleasantly warm for a ride in mid November.
Thanks for the huge turn out and once again for the riders who put their trust in me to take them to new territory. We definitely found a route that we should revisit in the Summer.