1st October is ‘international take a kid mountain biking day’ (yes, it is a real thing! Click https://www.imba.com/kids for details). To celebrate this there’ll be a family friendly ride around Croft Trail for all you parents to get out and ride mountain bikes with your kids and other like-minded folk.
We’ll meet from 10am for a few leisurely laps at a child friendly pace and you’ll be able to ride red or blue routes and do as many laps as you wish, just don’t be surprised if the kids riding skills put us all to shame.
This is a great excuse to get out riding with your kids, feel free to bring a picnic and make it a fun family day out.
THIS EVENT IS NOT A GUIDED CHILDREN’S RIDE OR A CHILD MINDING SERVICE. IT IS MEANT TO BE A FUN RIDE AROUND CROFT TRAIL FOR ALL THE FAMILY. YOU WILL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR CHILDREN AT ALL TIMES AND WILL BE EXPECTED TO RIDE WITH THEM. WHILST DOING OUR BEST TO ENSURE EVERYONE HAS A SAFE, ENJOYABLE RIDE MB SWINDON WILL NOT BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CARE AND SUPERVISION OF YOUR CHILDREN
Chris will be taking lead duties for this ride starting at Croft Trail and heading out onto the Ridgeway and the Marlborough Downs. There’ll be a couple of sizeable climbs but what goes up must come down so there’ll be some fun descents aswell. We’ll ride at a sensible pace and regroup regularly.
We’re getting to the point now where it’s a good idea to bring some lights with you just in case
Phil Allum will be leading this Spring ride around North Wiltshire, taking in as much of our glorious countryside as possible. We will be heading towards Aldbourne and using bridleways and byways that we very seldom use. This is a great area for biking and the views around are awesome.
As we will be local, we’ll start at the earlier time of 9am from Barbury Castle (Meet at 8.45). This is a good old fashioned cross country ride; there will be roots and ruts and everything else you expect to find out in the countryside.
This is a longer than usual ride, so please make sure you are happy to do the distance and your bike is up to the challenge. Note that over the 50km route, we’ll climb around 1000m!
Please bring at least a spare tube and anything else you feel you may need – water and food will be essential! We are trying to plan a stop at a shop but this is unconfirmed at this time. This will be updated closer to the date.
As you may have noticed by now a few of the club went on a trip to North Wales (Snowdonia) last weekend. This wasn’t an official club trip and as such it was a case of every man for himself. No sign in sheets, no fixed agenda, no meeting for a beer before hand to discuss riding plans.
A few nights accommodation were booked at the excellent Ty Nant bunkhouse, a basic idea of where we wanted to ride and a lot of weather watching was just about all the preparation that was necessary before we went.
Where did we ride? What did we think of it? Well here goes…
Nant Yr Arian
Thursday saw most of us arrive at Bwlch Nant Yr Arian (or “Nanty”) near Aberystwyth for an early lunch and ride around the popular trails. Being a Thursday it was quiet so we had the cafe and the singletrack just about all to ourselves.
There’s only really one main trail here the Summit Trail, but it has a shortened version and a longer loop if you fancy some extra XC and climbing. Summit itself is approx 18km and has around 500m of climbing for you. Its a great introduction to the more rocky nature of trails in North Wales and definitely worth a visit to get you in the mood for “what’s occurring” a little further north.
Climbing a mountain with your bike is one of those bucket list activities that you simply have to do and Cadair Idris is a rugged peak in Snowdonia with the most amazing views and riding.
Its accessible to many abilities, so long as you don’t mind pushing or hiking your bike a portion of the way up or even down. It is very rocky! We all climbed Cadair Idris on Friday, deciding to do it on a week day to minimise the chance of upsetting walkers on the path to the top.
Its perfectly legal to ride up and down this mountain, but being the second most popular among hikers in Snowdonia you have to choose your slot well.
Why should you “do” Cadair Idris on your bike? Well, the views are amazing, you are likely to see low flying jets as its in the middle of the Mach Loop and you get to ride down hill for an almost uninterrupted 10 km! There are number of well published maps/routes to the summit on MBR and MBUK websites to help you plan your day.
Time to re-calibrate your trail grade knowledge. Heading off down the Blue “Jympar” trail at Antur Stiniog, you immediately realise that this is definitely not the Verderers at FOD! Bumpy, rocky, fast, steep and loose – it would warrant a RED grade anywhere else I have ridden.
Controlling your speed is key to riding all the trails here or you could find yourself a long way from the ground as you head over a blind jump. Most are very safe and they can actually be ridden quite slowly without the need to fly over huge gap jumps. The RED and BLACK trails of Wild Cart and Black Powder deliver more of the same high speed, rock and bumps you find on Jympar but the incline is increased.
As you venture up the grades you are presented with steeper trails and bigger drops. With some control and determination it is possible to ride these trails on a trail bike with short travel, but 150mm is the recommended suspension for these runs.
Of course body armour is a must too. We turned up padded and a few of us with full face helmets, and still felt under dressed as the majority of riders were on heavy dual crown DH rigs and by the looks of their clothing on their way to play in the NFL!
However, there was also a large case of all the gear and no idea from a proportion of the riders, who were fully suited and booted yet only riding the Blue trail, slowly!
There is no option but to use the uplift here so its advisable to book as it can get busy.
Coed y Brenin
“Coidy” definitely not “Cody” Brenin is legendary in status and for some very good reasons. Many a mountain biker makes an annual pilgrimage to the UKs first dedicated mountain bike trail centre.
With everything from the Green family trail Yr Afon to epic 38km Black graded Beast of Brenin, Coed y Brenin has everything. You will need a few days to experience all of it but if you have a few hours and have good level of skill and fitness you wont go wrong with the MBR trail.
A rocky, challenging, technical trail throughout, offering some sweeping descents, like ‘Bugsy’ and ’Pink Heifer’, as well as Coed y Brenin’s most demanding stone pitched sections, namely ‘Badger’ and ‘Beginning of the End’. It also boasts ‘Cain’, an outstanding natural section, as well as the rebuilt and modernised ‘Abel’, with a series of fly offs to test your skill.
It really is a challenge and the most fun you can have at Coed y Brenin. If you want to have a warm and prepare yourself for whats to come in terms of the rocky features and drops then you should definitely visit The Foundry.
The Ffowndri skills area and bike park is a fantastic facility at Coed y Brenin. It’s ideal for beginners, just getting into the sport, right through to experienced, skilled riders. It’s split into 4 areas. Start off in the Training Zone to learn those core basic skills that will help you progress, give you confidence and make your riding more fun, then move on up through the progressively graded practice areas.
If you are unsure which of the 8 trails to ride, then head to the Singletrack Zone, where you’ll clearly see the difference between the graded trails and examples of what to expect on the trails out in the forest.
It can get busy in the car park but the trail network is so large that once you set off, you don’t often meet other riders which makes it all the more special.
What else can you do?
As mentioned at the beginning of the post this was a bit of a free for all weekend and some decided to other things. The above 4 was what the core of the group did but, some decided to ride up Snowdon and others explored some of the local trails near the accommodation, you could even cycle to the seaside and have an ice cream.
If you are interested in a trip or more advice please comment below or contact the club as this weekend has only scratched the surface of what North Wales can offer. There are many XC and mountain trails and other trail centres in North Wales for all abilities.
After a recce ride earlier in the week I was beginning to get concerned about the Novice tag on this ride, and when the attendance figures looked like they were going to climb above the dozen or so I expected, I was a little worried that this was going to be a Novice Ride too far.
A dry few days, blue skies and the promise of a new ride location for some, drew out the numbers and 25 of us left the car park and headed up the first climb-slash-push. Though we hadn’t seen any rain for a few days, some parts of the trail were still a bit sticky. The views from Morgan’s Hill make it worth it and with plenty of blue sky it was looking like a day clear of rain was ahead of us.
At Furze Knoll the cameras came out and the brave ones had a go at the bomb hole. Its not too steep but it is quite deep and daunting if you haven’t ridden anything this before. The mass of sticks and fallen trees at the bottom made it extra interesting and thankfully we only had one minor incident.
The journey across to the Roundway and Oliver’s Castle is quite a tame farm track and it gave the group the opportunity to thin out a little and have a pedal at their own pace and have a chat and catch up. Unfortunately, just before one of our group could enjoy the great views from the hill fort, there was a major tyre blow-out incident. Despite the combined efforts of a number of the group, new tubes, cable ties and gaffer tape, Ben had to turn back with instructions for his hour long walk back to his car!
The views are great at Oliver’s Castle however the wind was pretty cold and we had to move on as soon as Ben was off in the opposite direction.
We headed to a new local trail with some not-so-Novice features and, as with the bomb hole, the brave had a little play on the switchbacks and step downs. This was my favourite part of the route.
Some more byways and farm tracks had us making our way back around Furze Knoll, crossing the Wansdyke and eventually picking up the track back to the starting point. We had one final short steep climb to attend to that brought us back on to Morgan’s Hill and then we split into two groups for some off piste action back to the main track and eventually the car park.
The weather had been really kind to us and most loitered in the car park chatting for a short while before heading off.
Thanks again MB Swindon for being good company and for patience with the cold as we waited and gathered at points along the way.
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.
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.
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.”
On Sunday September 21st, we took a trip to Cwmcarn to ride both of the XC trails, Cafall and Twrch.
Twelve riders set off to ride Cafall. The climbing being mainly singletrack keeps it interesting enough, but once up, it’s the coming down which makes it all worth while! Everyone really enjoyed it, especially those who had not ridden it before.
After a spot of refreshments in the cafe, eight of us set off to ride the Twrch trail. The climb was hard due to stiff legs, especially navigating the technical sections. Everybody did 2 runs through the freeride park, most opting for the black run for a bit of air time.
The general consensus afterwards was that the climb is better on the Twrch due to being more technical and interesting. But Cafall wins when you have to come down.
We had 2 punctures, including Marks inner tube trying to make a break for it, and one busted freehub. There was also the odd sit down, but no serious spills means that all had a good time and look forward to doing it again.
This weeks urban round will start at the Covingham shops, next to the Messenger Pub at 7.00pm, you can also join at Coate water, by the cafe some 20 minutes later. As usual the route is weather dependant, if its good then up to Chiseldon then the Barbury area, then back down Ladder lane and back to the start.
So on a nice dry, mild Good Friday, a massive gaggle of MB Swindonites had gathered, ready to set off. Most people wanted to stick together so we opted for the Freeminers as a warmup. Tony Holmes and our newcomer Denise decided to tackle the Verderers. A small group of latecomers also started off on the Verderers.
There seems to be almost continued developments on the Freeminers at the moment, the latest being a set of 5 progressively higher wooden jumps. These proved very popular. The dry weather meant that the trail conditions were spot on.
After a brief regroup back in the carpark, Paul Broadrick very kindly offered to give us an off piste tour. It covered approx 30km and included some of the enduro route, old downhill tracks like Y2K and other parts of the Forest. After this huge tour, which left some of us flagging somewhat, a regroup at the cafe was in order. Here i had to depart due to other arrangements, leaving the rest telling stories over coffee and cake.
Big thanks to Paul Broadrick for sharing his local knowledge with us, opening up an even bigger network of trails around the Forest of Dean.
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