Club Rides are a great way to get out and expand your mountain biking horizons. Not knowing where to ride or what it will be like when you get there can be a little ! Going with a club is a great way to soften the blow, so to speak. However it can be daunting the first time you go out on a club ride and meet a bunch of new riders. Am I going to be fit enough to keep up? Are they going to be fast? What if I can’t do it? What is “it”?
What’s more your first trail centre ride can be very scary. Some mountain bikers will be fitter than others, some will be looking to hit the jumps and ride off what look like cliffs to start with… But mostly mountain bikers will be supportive and chatty. There will be some banter and you may be the slowest and least skillful in the party but that doesn’t matter and it wont last long.
Join a club, find a local bunch of riders and ride regularly. A properly organised club will have a club ride etiquette and everyone’s skill level will be taken into consideration. Some clubs will even grade a ride so you know before hand what to expect.
I have mentioned previously I ride with MB Swindon as often as I can and as far as organising rides go they do an excellent job. Every ride has a dedicated web page and Facebook event detailing a meeting point, the type of terrain, how long you can expect to be out, an ability rating (Novice etc) and even what refreshments (tea and cake usually) you can expect to find!
All mountain bikers like cake – haven’t met one yet that doesn’t!
Usually there will be a review or report of a past ride to that spot or some comments from the recce that someone has done. Basically it’s rarely unknown territory and you can prepare yourself accordingly.
Tomorrow is one of those occasions I ride with MB Swindon and we heading to South Wales to Cwmcarn. Cwmcarn Forest is home of the Twrch Trail, and is around a 15km trail of the very highest quality that is not for the faint hearted. Virtually the entire route is on purpose-built single-track through woodlands and open ridge tops.
The riding varies from open and flowing hard pack to tight technical & rooty and is rideable in all-weather, with a steep climb at the start followed by a rollercoaster decline with dramatic views of the River Severn and surrounding hills on clear days. I am expecting some snow to be still lying on the hill top and a bit of rain and mist at the car park.
Cwmcarn is also destination for downhill enthusiasts and the in places “black” rated Y Mynydd course consists of one man-made downhill Trail with a choice of lines on the top and middle sections. The course demands a high level of skill (and some guts). According to the website “these are extreme downhill trails and are suitable for experienced riders only.” I have ridden there before and ridden it in snow and ice. It’s not too bad, you can ride it hard or roll most of it. A ride report and some photos tomorrow.