Tom Scott will be leading this novice friendly route. Tom writes
Tom Scott will be leading this novice friendly route. Tom writes
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 .
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.
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”
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
Tim Norris will lead this ride. He describes it as follows:
You lucky lucky people people. For the second month in a row Tim From Wales brings you something new.
We are going be starting in the historic town of Monmouth and will be going on a ride that begins in Wales, middles in England and ends in Wales again. Two countries in one ride -a club first??
On the far side of the Forest of Dean lies the Wye Valley; not much of it is legally accessible by bike and much research, begging and borrowing has been done to put together a route in the area that is both challenging and fun. Many mountain bike guides died to bring us this information!
With a fair amount of climbing either side of the river Wye but with some fun fast descents to make up for it this ride will deliver some fresh trails, views and locations to the club.
Its an Adventure for all involved as the ride leader will be following instructions given to him by another mountain bike guide and as such expect some navigational surprises!
It will be mid November, so please check the weather and dress accordingly.
We may have the opportunity for a pub stop mid ride but there are no planned cafe stops so please bring food and drink sufficient to sustain you on a hilly 4 hour ride.
May the Force be with us…
The ride now has a start location. We will be meeting at the corner of the playing fields behind Waitrose. By the roundabout see map below.
There’s plenty of parking in town that I haven’t had chance to check out but we are all adults so find somewhere to park and meet by the red dot at 9.45am.
Weather doesn’t look too bad for the weekend either.
I don’t expect any gnarly or steep bits, just a few mucky tracks no doubt.
However please remember if you are coming that this ride falls under our new “adventure” category. This means I haven’t done an actual physical recce of the route and don’t fully know what to expect, but we will be following (hopefully) way marked tracks and bridleways.
This trail traverses the north side of the Afan Valley on singletrack, promising great views of the valley and coastline. It offers a wide range of climbs and descents. You can also expect boardwalks, berms, large rocks, medium steps, cambers and water crossings. Some of the steep-sided slopes can feel exposed. It will be worth layering up.
There is an option of doing Blue Scar trail after a spot of lunch in the afternoon – daylight hours & weather permitting.
The morning started well, with a brief look at the weather forecast showing very little chance of rain with a stiff South-Westerly breeze, which suited us fine as we were heading North-East.