The Mountain Bike Life
We all love that feeling of getting back in your own bed after a trip away, that delicious comfort that familiarity brings is just divine isn’t it. However there can be such a world of fun to be had when you venture to someone else’s bed !! A little sparkle can be reinstated and some great memories maybe 😉 I’m hoping this piece will remind you to cast off the covers of your ‘local’ ride once in a while and go have some fun elsewhere. It’s not cheating, it’s all for the long term health of your love/bike life.

I was talking to a buddy the other day and asked him if he’d gotten out much recently, I was expecting an enthusiastic barrage of trail tales because we have had some stunning weather. What I got as response was quite the opposite ! “nah, kinda bored of the local”. I was totally taken back. The guy is a great rider, got a bling bike and is as healthy as hell AND even has the ability to juggle his time because he is self employed. When you look at the fact that we live in an area of vast amounts of open country side it seemed even more crazy. Just like everything else in life our riding will get stuck in a rut from time to time and this is when you can get a huge smile back on your ride with a little creativity, planning and determination.

Add your own ride refreshers and definitely share on the comments section below, but here are a few rides that you may have overlooked. While they make not all work for you, some will sure as hell get you feeling some of the magic that you used to feel, back in the day.

The Quickie:

Here we have the ride that is most overlooked and most undervalued. We all love the epic rides that push the pace and the distance and in these days of KOM’s and Strava’s ‘importance’ we overlook the impromptu and more casual doorstep jaunt. No packing up loads of stuff and getting all the gear in the car, just go. Even if you live in the city there are plenty of opportunities to polish those core skills up a little. You don’t have to go far to find a set of steps etc that is quiet enough to let you play for a while without disturbing pedestrians. I had a total blast a few days ago in a small corner f the back garden. I was setting up my forks after a strip down and ended up playing roll backs and track stands for about 40 minutes. It was not only a bit of fun, but gave me a half decent workout too. There is a tiny strip of woodland that I’ve ridden untold times that is just behind my hire bike place, Whistler it ain’t ! but I’ve definitely learned a lot in my mini play times there. There is a fallen tree that gently ramps up that I’ve used to slowly get more ‘up n’ over technique’ with and practice my elegant, emergency dismount too ! There is a really nasty little left hand switch back that has made me much better at control both on the way down and as a technical climb as well. I’m not pretending that these rides are the same level of stoke as you will get out of a day on the trails that you have with your buddies, but they are definitely going to benefit your trail time. If martial artists can train in the space that it takes a tiger to turn around, you can too!

Gunning with the groms:

I’ve got three kids all of which make for great ride buddies and all of which are fantastic fun to be with. They have a pretty wide age range, pace and skill set. I’ve never had a bad ride with them, friends kids or kids that I’ve taught to ride. I’ve got friends that take groups of young offenders and school groups out and they say the same. Kids are good time guru’s and create it in large amounts, as often as possible and in ways that you had forgotten about. Seeing as it may well make for a kinda awkward conversation asking your neighbors if you can borrow their young un’s for a ride, you maybe better off volunteering at the youth club or junior MTB club locally. If riding with kids s not your bag, how about helping out with bike repairs at the club ? You may well have to have some back ground checks etc and give up a little bit of your time, but sure as night follows day you will get a lot back from it and quite possibly put an extra something into a kids life that is gold for the soul. There is a very large amount of kids with busy parents, lazy parents or no parents out there and they would really like to meet you.

Have a fling:

Just like we all have our favorite place to ride, we often have a favorite bunch of buddies to ride with and these are the guys that have shaped your riding and been there since forever. Making a point of occasionally riding in different circles is hugely rewarding and a sure fire way to give your ride a boost. For example….

Level up:

As I got into the sport late it was pretty easy to find better riders than me to ride with, because who wasn’t better than I was. Mountain bikers are a very kind bunch generally and will often welcome being asked by less experienced riders if they can tag along in order to improve their ride. What ill often make this an issue is the dreaded ego ! no one likes the idea of telling other people that we are not as good as we would like to be. Get over it ! I can honestly say that I learned more in a few trips out with others than I would have in untold hours of solo.

Level down:

Go and find some noobs who are just into the sport and ask if they want to go for a ride, chances are that you ill receive some really warm appreciation and definitely have a good time. All that enthusiasm that riders have when they are first into the sport is hugely contagious, get some of that good stuff in your life and enjoy giving a little back. What you may thing of as your average skills or trail side repairs as being nothing special may well be really useful to others.

Bike swap:

When I was in the bike shop, I had the envious pleasure of often getting big boxes of fun delivered. Wooooo demo bikes ! The difference between different rides is astounding and never failed to make me focus more than a trip on my regular ride. That increased focus meant that I was uh more ‘aware’ of what everything was doing and what a degree of geometry change meant in real terms. Next time you go out with the group that you regularly ride with ask if anyone wants to swap bikes for a leg of the trip. It’s big fun and will sharpen you up, no one wants to spank a borrowed bike. If that is no good in your peer group it may be worth a top end hire bike as a treat once in a while?

Dirty in the dark:

Night rides are there to make your naughty gland go nuts ! There is something so thrilling to the senses about being on the trails at night. The perception of speed and difference in how you manage the ride is overwhelmingly exciting. It’s a ride that is now more accessible than ever with some really great lighting options at seriously impressive prices. It’s a great ride with regards the guilt free feeling too, as you can ride after your other commitments are done for the day. I remember being at one of the very highest points in this area on a still, crystal clear full moon in the dead of winter. The views were inspiring, with lines of snow still tracing some of the hedges and sleepy towns glowing. Special stuff that was made even better by the feeling of doing great stuff whilst the many watched rubbish on the TV. If you have not ridden at night before please bear the following in mind.

  • Test claimed light duration at least twice at home first
  • Use two lights. One helmet, one on the bars
  • Carry a spare torch in case of emergency
  • Ride only familiar spots and with company
  • Tell someone where and when you are going/coming

Be a crosser:

Cyclo cross is a sport that makes very little sense and that must mean that it’s worth a go. It’s global growth is seeing no bounds as roadies and shred fans find some common (muddy) ground. You don’t have to rush out and buy a new bike for it (but you can if you like !) as most club events are happy for you to ride MTB’s for events. I don’t know anyone who has tried it that didn’t get a laugh out of it. It’s damn good for your winter training and will make you ride places that would never have

been considered before. AND latex is not compulsory.

Off piste:

There was a time before trail centers ?! No really there was and when clunkers were thrashing around Mount Tam etc it was a wild adventure that those guys were seeking. I’ve recently been spending plenty of time in the company of maps and learning to get them to take me to new (treasure) spots.

With Garmin and all manner of other GPS now readily available it’s time to go and tame the wilds. I’m not brave or dumb enough to trust GPS on it’s own and love to get familiar with the area via a map, it also makes me eel more like a bike pirate and that’s got to be a good thing. I’m brushing up on the map reading both for my own use and also prior to taking guide qualifications latter in the year. I’m getting really hooked on them and have already found a wealth of previously hidden fun both on my door step and also in the next county. These trips may not have the bang for your buck for those manicured berms, drop off or that magic carpet feel that the trail center offers. They are about riding what you find and seeing new lines and opportunities. I think that map reading is a great skill to have in your bag of tricks too and maybe one that will prove essential one day.


Preseli mountains, definitely better with a map !

Intervals:

Where/how ever you ride, remember to throw a few sprint intervals into the mix. Masses of studies have now proven the value of short burst cardio work. We all ride better when we are fitter !.

Get busy with it:

Really hope that you tr some of the above ad also that you will add your ride refreshers t the comments section below. Enjoy!

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