Tag Archives: 2014

The Beast of Barbury – 11th Jan 2015

Barbury Castle.
Barbury Castle.

The hard Tom Scott will be leading this hard ride.  There will be at least three hard climbs up to Barbury Castle and another two major climbs elsewhere.  This will be a real test of endurance and not for the faint hearted, but if you’re hard enough then this is for you.

There will be a cafe stop at Avebury about half way round, but bring water and high energy food, as well as the usual spares.

You will be wet, muddy and  tired by the end of this ride, but you will have the satisfaction of completing one of the toughest local rides we’ve ever put on!

And if it all gets too much, the entire ride is based close to Barbury so there are plenty of opportunites to bail out….

MBSwindon Christmas party 2014

Christmas party hats and beard

Well, believe it or not I heard “Fairytale of New York” the other day which must mean it’s almost time for the MB Swindon Christmas do.

This year we’ll be dining at Mackenzies in Old Town, £26.95 per person for a 3 course meal. Email chris@mbswindon.co.uk for menu and payment details. As always payment confirms your place and all payments must be made by 12th December at the very latest please.

Always a good night this, a good chance to socialise and see what everyone looks like when they’re not covered in mud! Get booked up folks.

You’re Afan a laugh – Ride Report

  Chris Hopkinson writes:

At 6.15 on Saturday morning I was lying in bed staring at the ceiling. I’d hardly slept a wink due to a trapped nerve in my shoulder giving me some grief and it now seemed like the wife had very kindly shared her cold with me. I’d rebuilt the full suss bike on Thursday after not riding it since the summer, when I took it out for a test ride on Friday night the drivetrain felt shocking and I really didn’t enjoy the ride. To be honest if it wasn’t for the fact I was the designated ride leader for the day’s trip to Afan I’d quite happily have stayed under the duvet until at least lunchtime!
As it happened I was ride leader for the day and I’d also offered a lift to someone so out of bed I climbed. I’d packed all my kit and put it in the car the night before so with a fresh brew and a sausage butty in hand I headed out to the shed to replace the xt cranks on the bike with an old deore set I had knocking about. After a quick ride up and down the street it felt a little better but the old cassette still felt a bit rough. Oh well, it’ll have to do.
When I arrived to pick up my companion for the journey West he came out of the house with a hardtail. Now I’m not generally a nasty person but as I loaded his bike onto the carrier I felt a little smile on my face with the thought that there might be someone who finished the day feeling a little more beat up than I did. Sorry Alan!
After a few wrong turns we arrived at Glyncorrwg a little later than expected and didn’t see any familiar faces. As I walked over to the on site bike shop I bumped into Richard Ford, at least there were three of us. A few beer tokens lighter I walked out of the shop with a new cassette and figured I’d take a chance on running it with an old chain. More people had turned up and after a little faffing eight of us set off up the White’s level climb at various speeds. Rich had never ridden White’s level before and I think it’s safe to say he found the climb, erm……….interesting! When we reached the top I promised him that the next section, Windy Point, would make it all worth it and left him to catch his breath while I whooped and hollered my way on, Rich followed me a little while later and the smile on his face said it all. The rest of the group had opted to ride the black section at the top of the climb and it wasn’t long before they came whooping and a hollering down Windy Point to join us, all accept Paul who’d taken an unscheduled sit down and hurt himself in the process, safe to say he wasn’t going to enjoy the rest of the ride down the mountain much. The next three sections were dispatched with no such drama but lots of fun and it wasn’t long before we were sitting outside the skyline café seeing of some mansize portions of chilli jacket potatoes and flap jacks. Yes! You read that right! We were sat outside in glorious warm sunshine wondering what the hell was going on. Not only was it one day away from December but we were also in Wales!!
Rich and Sean had decided they’d ridden enough for the day and Paul’s injury meant an early shower for him so five of us set off up the climb again to ride Blade. I’d ridden Blade earlier in the year but it seemed I missed out a whole section, as it happened it turned out to be some of the most fun trail I’ve ridden in a long time and once again there was much whooping and a hollering! The last time I rode Blade it had only just opened and was a muddy, mushy mess. After having almost a year to settle down it’s become a great trail and a superb addition to Afan. If you’re heading down there anytime soon I recommend you give it a bash.
With time against us we opted to take the shortcut down an old section of Skyline which spat us out onto the final descent of Blade. It’s quite a challenging descent which saw me make a wrong line choice on a rutted out turn which put me on my backside. Then, literally fifty metres from the end, a lapse of concentration had me doing my best superman impression and ending up a little dazed and confused lying upside down on the side of the mountain. With no more than a few physical bruises and a few more mental ones I and the others rode back to the car park. We all agreed that it had been a thoroughly enjoyable days riding made even better by the most unseasonal weather and something we should do again very soon. Massive thanks to Alan, Rich, Graham, Gary, Paul, Sean and Phil for helping to make it such a fun day out.

Clatford Clatter Ride Report

Lovely Richard Ford led the Clatford Clatter ride – here’s what he thought of it:

“Lots of rain the week before and the threat of more rain on   the day meant that I was not expecting a great turn out.  I was still slightly disappointed that only four other riders turned up at West Woods car park for the ride.

We left West Woods via the road rather than the tracks I had planned to use due to the wetness of the trails.  We took the Marlborough to Pewsey road to the top of Oare Hill and then turned right on to the farm track that lead us out on to the ridge line above the Vale of Pewsey.  Normally you are rewarded by a lovely view of the Vale.  Instead we were met by a bank of fog.  I explained to the others how great the view really is as we rode on to the first descent.  At the top Rafe took the opportunity to show Chris the correct posiiton to ride a descent.  Armed with that knowledge we all made it safely down to Gopher Woods and the first proper climb of the ride.  The climb isn’t that steep, but it is on slippery grass which makes it harder.Clatford Clatter -

From there we continued along the ridge line with me embellishing how amazing the view was when the fog wasn’t there.  I’m not sure they believed me that herds Wilderbeasts and the Eiffell Tower can be seen on a clear day.  We then took the fun descent down Goldenball Hill to the car park where we met Mark Pulleyn and some of his friends riding the other way.  After a bit of a chat about how muddy it was Mark and co headed on up the hill.  At this point it became clear that Chris was struggling on his first ride.  I worked out a shortcut back to allow Rafe and Nigel to kindly lead him back to his car.  Considering the conditions and the bike he was riding it was a good effort by Chris.

Then there were two.  Rupert and I headed on up the byway to East Kennet.  The recent rain had filled the chalk ruts in the byway.  This made picking the right line important.  We managed to make it through without mishap and on to what I believe to be a hidden gem of a descent down to East Kennet.Clatford Clatter - RFord

A bit of road work through the village led to the byway to the A4.  This is a rutty steep climb.  We both spun out our back tyres out at virtually the same time and had to walk part of the climb to the top.  We then crossed the road to join the start of the Ridgeway.  The original plan had been to ride down to Avebury for tea and cake.  Neither of us were bothered by this so instead we headed across Fyfield Down past the gallops to the descent above Clatford.

Lots of folks have trouble finding this descent and it has become a personal favourite.  Going through the elusive gap in the hedge we joined the narrow bridleway and picked up speed as the gradient started to increase.  Unfortunately we met a very out of it dog walker half way down meaning we had to kill our speed to go around him and his equally out of it dog.

The descent led us back to the A4.  Which we crossed to join the road back to West Woods and the end of what was for me (despite the low turn out) a highly enjoyable ride.  Thanks to Chris, Nigel, Rafe and Rupert for braving the elements to join me.”

Race Report – Red Kit/Empire Bikes Enduro RD3

James Scott of the MB Swindon Gravity Team gives us another report of the weekend’s racing.

Round 3 of the Red Kite / Empire Bikes Enduro and it was another     cracker. This time around the loop was shorter coming in at around 23km and 900+metres of climbing (if you rode the stages in order).

Empire Cycles Enduro Rd3_5

The format remained the same with practice Saturday morning on stages 1-4, then in the afternoon we raced stages 1-3 and Sunday was racing 5 stages with stage 5 being raced blind – got that? Good, lets proceed!

I arrived at the Coed Trallwym trail centre at about 9:30 Saturday morning to register, was shortly joined by team mate Phil Allum and Leon Cardy-Stewart and almost immediately we were advised to give stage 1 a walk as it was the most technical and steepest stage of the race… intriguing. Luckily we could see the finish line from where we’d parked so wellies were donned and off up the hill we went. Straight away we could tell how much fun it was going to be with truly freshly marked out tracks – barely a tyre track on them! A third of the way up the hill we faced steep bit of the stage, several switch backs cut into a muddy hillside meant that you’d need some confidence in your front tyre grip. The track “flattened out” towards the top so we skipped that bit and walked across to join stage 2 which was a trail centre descent promising some good speed, jumps and drifty flat corners.

Empire Cycles Enduro Rd3_4

Back at the carpark the bikes were straight out and after meeting up with Gary Lee and enduro newbie Richard Rowe we pedalled up to start practice. The climb up to stages 1 and 2 was surprisingly manageable, maybe we had a tailwind this weekend but I’d happily spend all day riding that hillside. As we’d seen what the stages offered we warmed up on stage 2 then faced the onslaught of the steep stage 1. After getting the bottom grinning like mad men we felt another run of 1 would be a good idea, it was an easy climb and feeling confident of what was approaching would definitely help. More slip sliding later and we considered practicing the other stages, Phil and I had ridden stage 3 at round 1 and after hearing how tough the climb was we recommended leaving that to race it blind and save some energy. The loop up to stage 4 was relatively quick so we got that out the way and back to the cafe to warm up. The weather hadn’t been too bad, it wasn’t too cold and there wasn’t much rain – mainly the annoying drizzly mist which blurs up glasses and goggles to make them useless!

Empire Cycles Enduro Rd3_3

The afternoon racing went off without too much issue, I got caught out by a tree stump on stage 3 and Phil seemed to have trouble staying on the bike! But we were soon finished and while Gary and Rich went to relax in their room at the Drovers Rest, Phil, Leon and I got the tents up and were happy to see we weren’t the only ones taking that option. A quick shower and then down to the Drovers Rest for the first pint and put the order in for our free pasta. I’ve said it before but it’s a great idea getting everyone together in the evening with free food and a chance to talk to others about the days racing. A few pints later and it was an early night for all. Great idea number 2 was stopping at the Drovers Rest in the morning for a full welsh breakfast, it tasted delicious and set you up perfectly for the day. No cold cereal in the tent this time!

Off to Coed Trallwym and thanks to a free bike wash used several times the day before we were ready to ride straight away. We followed the stages in order but others decided to get stage 3 done and the nasty climb out the way on fresh legs – a good idea that one. The day went well again for all MB Swindoners, a smattering of crashes but nothing serious – oh and Gary getting into a sheep traffic jam part way down stage 2!

Empire Cycles Enduro Rd3_1

The weather had been good for Sunday which was a relief, the stages had been immense fun we really couldn’t have asked for too much more.

Neil the organiser had spent quite a bit of time in the last few weeks crafting some brilliant fresh cut descents only for the good old welsh rain to wash them down the hill so they’ve been put on hold for 2015 and the stages for this round looked like this:

Stage 1 – A quick sprint into a gently descending section you could flow and hold a steady speed with little pedalling, over a couple of rock/wood gardens (photos tell a thousand words!). Straight line a chicken run which was quicker than the difficult drop line and then it was into the steeps, I think you had to accept your rear would be sliding everywhere and just concentrate on holding a line with the front. Even that rarely worked and 2 wheeled drifts were common place. Over some wooden bridges, up and down a tricky bus stop, across a fireroad and down a steep shale slope to gain speed into the long final straight which had boggy rock gardens, jumps, stumps and ruts – hold your nerve, stay off the brakes and go straight!

On Sunday due to the steep hillside becoming claggy the stage was re-routed with some long straights. I preferred the corners as they kept your speed down and conditions of the new track weren’t much better.

Empire Cycles Enduro Rd3_2

Stage 2 – Was all gravelly trail centre surface. A few slippery flat corners to lose your confidence, a 100m sprint to lose your lungs and then some long fast straights with switch backs, jumps and rollers. The bottom was more slippery flat corners which were in sight of the finish. Perfect for your waiting mates to cheer when you washed out!

Stage 3 – A repeat from round 1, the first long straight had a couple s-bend kinks to wake you up and catch you out, a super fast bumpy fireroad descent to make your bike skip around under you. A bit of trail centre singletrack which spat you out into a short sharp climb – just long enough to really make the legs and lungs burn. More gravel singletrack and down a few steep slopes across the finish.

Stage 4 – The blue trail centre descent where you needed to have confidence on the route, foliage meant that corners could come out from nowhere and braking at the wrong point would sap your speed for some short up slopes. The middle had a good section where you could pick up speed and was great fun and the singletrack carried on right to the finish. A deceivingly pedally stage that one.

Stage 5 – Kept secret till Sunday afternoon, Neil had spent several days chainsawing through fallen trees and clearing this old route. And we were glad he did! A long first straight with a load of bumpy ruts definitely tested your nerve, a fire road sprint and then the whole bottom stage was slightly more gentle than stage 1 but much in the same vein. The mud creating a lack of grip that was always entertaining down some fast straights to the finish.

After fine tuning the races this year 2015 promises to be a real cracker and by far and away the best value enduro race series out there.

(CAUTION: Video contains occasional swearage and childish giggling – Ed)


Overall, James came 7th and Phil got a great 5th place collecting three 3rd places on the Sunday stages! Great work.

Thanks to Neil at Red Kite events and the rest of our sponsors, DriftRiding.co.uk, High 5, Hargroves Cycles and Fibrax for helping us out this year!

CANCELLED – First aid training course

Mountain bike crash victimDue to low numbers this course has had to be cancelled.

This is a one day course with Wolverest group that provides a certificate in basic first aid. It is based at their training centre in Swindon. Read our first aid story to see why training can really make a difference. Photos from the Nov 2013 course.

It will cost £40 per person inclusive. Meeting at 9:00am at the Wolverest Training school.  21 Cherry Orchard North,  Kembrey Park,  Swindon, Wiltshire, SN2 8UH. Details such as lunch are not confirmed yet.

There’s room for 12 people on a first come, first served basis. To book send an email to info@mbswindon.co.uk with the subject line ‘First aid training’ and we will get in touch with payment details.

First aid log roll.

Topics covered:

  • Initial care of the scene and patient
    • Fears of first aid
    • Road safety
    • Barriers – gloves and face shields
    • Initial assessment
    • Breathing unconscious patient and recovery position
  • Cardiac problems
    • One rescuer CPR
    • Chest compressions only
    • CPR hand over to a second rescuer
  • Other primary care problems
    • Choking
    • Serious bleeding and types of wounds
    • Shock
    • Spinal injury
    • Snatch rescue (removing a patient from a dangerous situation)
  • Specific injury management
    • Breaks and fractures
    • Embedded objects
    • Eye injuries
    • Sunburn
    • Head injury and helmet removal
    • Hypothermia
    • Chest injury

Barbury Novice Friendly Ride – November 8th 2014

Still not joined the club on a ride? This could be the ride for you.

Join us on a spin round one of our favourite local loops, Barbury/4 mile clump/Rockley/Hackpen hill. This ride will be able 20kms or 13 miles in old money.

This ride is novice friendly, as always we will ride at a pace suitable for everyone. There’s only a few small hills, but don’t worry if you have to get off and walk, it’s always a good excuse for a chat!

There are no cafes or shops on route so please bring food and drink with you.

Hope to see you there!

The Big Bang Theory Ride

It’s been a couple of years since we’ve done a Fireworks Night ride, so about time we did it again. We will be starting main ride from Foxhill car park and be heading across the Hinton Downs and Peaks Downs towards Baydon/M4 then head Northwards up Bailey Hill to Weathercock Hill and along Odstone Down to rejoin the Ridgeway track. Provided a sufficient number hit the “join button” on Facebook, there will be a mid-ride mobile “coffee and cake” stop set up in car park at the top of Ashbury Hill. Once everyone is refreshed we will continue back along the Ridgeway to Foxhill.

With lots of the ride being on higher ground, the theory is we will get to see lots of fireworks all around us with plenty of big bangs.

This will be a novice friendly ride, and no one will be left behind, but please make your own mind up if you feel confident with this distance in the dark.

Based on the last one, expect crap, freezing cold weather, lots of mud and bottomless puddles…..but hopefully a few giggles

Bring front and back lights (essential), warm/waterproof clothing, basic spares and snacks/drinks as appropriate.

Aim to be back to Foxhill by 9:30/10:00, but this will be dependent on speed of group and duration of coffee and cake stop.

Empire cycles enduro Round 3 – Llanwrtyd Wells, Powys – 25 October 2014

The final round of the Empire cycles enduro series 2014!

Here at MB Swindon, we’ve been present at both of the other two rounds and absolutely loved them. The riding is awesome, but coupled with brilliant organisation and fantastic facilities, its quickly become one of our favourite events.
It’s a gravity style enduro and in this case, where the transitions are not timed. So its a pedal up in your own time, followed by a timed stage, that generally goes downhill. Expect 20km of riding on the Saturday, 40-50km on Sunday. It’s a similar setup to the Mondraker Gravity Rally (for those of you who have been). Saturday night is generally spent in the Drovers Rest for the pasta party and then filling up on isotonic beer.

Here’s the lowdown:

  • 2 days of some of the best riding in Wales
  • 2 stages of racing on Saturday, 5 stages on Sunday
  • No transition times
  • Full use of event village, hot showers, proper toilets, free tea & coffee making facilities including toast & biscuits
  • Free beer when you get back, free pasta party at the Drovers Rest
  • Bike washDid I mention 2 days of some of the best riding in Wales?

There is an option just to do the Sunday if you can’t make the Saturday as well.

Finally, as if you need any more persuading, MB Swindon club members get 20% off the entry price! See the members only area of the club website for details

For more information and to enter, please see:http://redkite-events.co.uk/event.php?id=20

Here’s the review on round 1: http://www.mbswindon.co.uk/red-kite-empire-cycles-enduro-rd-1-llanwrtyd-wells-26-04-14/

Hopefully see you all there!

Bristol Oktoberfest 2014

MBswindon ladies race team on podium at Bristol Oktoberfest.The Bristol Oktoberfest is another one of our big race events. Last year we entered 28  riders as solo riders, pairs, teams of 3 and teams of 4. Everyone is encouraged to get involved – it’s a lot of fun even if you doubt your race credentials.

The venue is also used for the Bristol Bikefest (see photos from 2013).

If you already have a team then it would be great if you enter as an MBSwindon team. If you haven’t got a team then contact us with your preferences (solo, pair, team, race/for fun) and we’ll work on allocating teams.

Facebook event page.