QECP MTB – Queen Elizabeth Country Park – First Ride Review

Much has been said of late about the new sections of trail at the QECP so we thought we’d pay it a visit.

So 6 of us made the 80 mile journey to QECP yesterday frankly not expecting too much.

Blue trails are the unsung heroes of mountain biking. They are the gateways into the sport, acting as a hook for new riders and giving younger riders their first taste of riding off-road in a safe environment. The mistake a lot of riders make is believing blue trails are just for beginners, bypassing them for harder red or black trails. There’s plenty of fun to be had on a well built blue trail even for experienced riders. It’s good to see there are plenty of other people who think the same and that the blue trail at Queen Elizabeth Country Park (QECP) has been voted TOTY.
Read more at https://www.mbr.co.uk/news/trail-of-the-year-377618#Vrdu31PMUjAoowcE.99

We’d heard of the MBR Award for the Blue trail which sounded fun, but we had also heard that the Red trail was very very sketchy in the wet. Well as you’ll see from the video, we are obviously pretty hardcore here in Wiltshire – or just used to the sticky mud!

In my opinion you can ride both trails in all conditions, but the Blue will definitely hold up better in the wet.

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Ashton Court MTB Trails – Review

If you follow my Youtube Channel you will have seen this video last weekend and know that I paid a visit (with a few mates) to Ashton Court in Bristol for a revisit – been about 5 years since I was there last!

Now before we get stuck in, the trails are in a city, so there is a distinct lack of elevation and serious gravity fed fun.

Its not a hot destination for mountain bikers wishing to “shred the gnar” or if you are in search of real technical challenges (though the Super Nova Red section was particularly scary in the wet!). However, if you live in the South West and have a few hours to spare its well worth a visit.

Firstly parking is only £1.20 for the whole day – I know this is probably not high on the  your check list when visiting a trail centre but if you live in south Wales for instance, now that the Severn Bridge Tolls have been removed its a very cheap trip – and I think you should consider it.

Whats here?

Only about 7 miles in total of way marked trails. Mostly “flat” and cross country  by nature but the constant undulation will give you a proper work out.  The Bristol Bikefest is a much missed event and tested riders endurance on multiple laps up until a few years ago.

These are made up of 2 main trails at Ashton Court and in the neighbouring Leigh Woods.  Leigh Woods was less fun, but there are some off piste trails there that are worth exploring in the drier weather.

Mostly you have twisty single track, with a mix of rocky and natural (muddy) surfaces.

And don’t forget the undulation – which basically translates as you will be pedalling most of the way around.

Red Sections here bear absolutely no resemblance to “Reds” at Bike Park Wales or even the Forest of Dean.  In a nutshell, its a pretty easy and non challenging environment on the whole. However…..

Don’t dismiss it

Recently there have been some developments and new trail sections have had some work done to provide flow and jumpable features that the trail had previously lacked.

There are a few sections (as you will see in my video) that are worth lapping and sessions in these short spots can help novice riders learn some skills and provide a fun playground for even the most advanced riders.

So go and give it a visit, put a few hours aside and session the new bits (you’ll know them when you find them) and if you don’t enjoy yourself you haven’t tried hard enough.

Links

Here’s a great downloadable map of the trails including the ones in Leigh Woods and 50 Acre Woods  :

https://betterbybike.info/wp/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/BD10784-Mountain-Bike-Trails-leaflet-WEB.pdf

For info on bike hire and skills coaching at the trails contact Pedal Progression  :

https://www.pedalprogression.com/about/

Mountain biking and Energy drinks

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Energy Drinks

Its actually quite difficult to think about out beloved sport of mountain biking (and other action sports) in all its forms without coming across Red Bull at some point or another.  Sponsored athletes, events, Red Bull Media House and Red Bull TV for instance.

Athletes from the UK include the Athertons, Tahnee Seagrave and Matt Jones

https://www.redbull.com/gb-en/athletes

Monster Energy plays second fiddle in many ways but can still be seen as a sponsor to some of our sports heroes including UK legends Brendog, Danny Hart and of course Peaty.

https://www.monsterenergy.com/sports/mountain-biking

Rockstar is seen less but still supports freeriders Jodie Lunn and Cam MacCaul for example.

http://gb.rockstarenergy.com/actionsports

So I did a bit of an experiment yesterday and asked my twitter followers what they thought of these energy drinks, I posted some photos to my instagram feed and made a youtube video.

The results were not surprising, and this was by no means an extensive survey, however I didn’t see one positive response.

energy drink views
Instagram likes

I am no social media whizz or can I claim to have 1000s of followers but generally my photos get likes from the usual crew and new viewers alike.  You can see from the above that the energy drink pictures got very little engagement yesterday.

I thought that deliberately putting them in dirty surrounds might have at least brought out some comments – but there was practically nothing!

Twitter was a flood of “awful” “stay near the toilet” “better off drinking battery acid” etc.

You can see the tweet below and follow the link to the comments – not many fans!

Finally, I put a video together.  I didn’t really go fact hunting or comparing the “benefits” or ingredients in each drink – I just gave my blunt opinion.

You can research the various effects good or bad for yourself, I just thought it was interesting (though I already knew this) that none of my friends virtual or real actually drink any of this stuff, yet the brands are a big part of our sport.

None of this was surprise to me, it just got me thinking about how these drinks are deemed so bad for you by so many people, yet they are major sponsor in our sport.

Kind of reminds me of the old motor sport days.

What are your thoughts on energy drinks, the brands and the impact on our sports?

 

Buying a new bike

I’m a thinker. Maybe an over thinker? 

What I mean is especially when it comes to tech or bikes, I do a lot of procrastinating.

Mostly this is because I’m no expert.  If I’m honest with myself I don’t really know the difference between a Fox 34 and a Pike or a Shimano Zee and SRAM guide brake. And if I’m really honest with myself, would I truly actually notice the difference when I’m out riding?  Dunno, I’m a pretty average rider and would I benefit from some of the higher performance parts? Doubtful.

I will certainly notice bits that I have experience with and learn from that. So despite my comment about forks just now, I have some idea what I do/don’t want.

So how do I pick a bike?

It’s probably the same as most of you – based on a few of the following 5/6 points:

  1. Price – lets face it budget is the major controlling factor for a bike purchase. Even if you do decide to spread the cost, there’s still a decision to be made “can I afford £40 a month or £60 a month etc”
  2. What’s cool – What’s everybody riding? Do i want to ride what everybody is riding? I remember when everyone around me was BIRD mad! Cotic is popular with my locals at the moment. I bought he Whyte T130 – I don’t regret it but boy are there loads of them around!  I’d like to ride something that isn’t so popular if I can.
  3. Stick with what I know – buy the latest model from a brand you know / have or have had. I ride a whyte full sus and the 905 hardtail gets great reports. But I don’t like the colour!
  4. Steel is Real – I’m looking for a hardtail and us British riders do like a steel hardtail and i ride a steel frame right now. Steel can push the price up a little, but def moves the bike along the cool wall!
  5. Pro Influencers – I’ve been watching GMBN for the last year or and sold myself on the Scout, then since following Matt Jones and seeing the specs, the San Quentin jumped up on my list, until I saw the 4 month wait!!
  6. Round ups and reviews – MBR

So, I’m looking for a new hard tail. I set my budget to a max of £1500 and I have maybe 3 or 4 on my short list… Haven’t made a decision yet so watch this space…

Louri Frame Strap Review

It was really nice to meet Sian and Thomas at the Cycle Show last week and to get a look at the many products that Cyclorise distribute in the UK.  Getting a close up look at the Louri frame strap and getting my own in a bike colour matching orange was a bonus.

The strap allows you to attach some essentials to your bike for races or when you want to travel a little lighter. Its really useful and easy to use – watch my video for the full low down.

The Louri strap costs £18.99 for the frame version and £17.99 for the saddle mount version.

Finally – the pronunciation – its looo-reee  as in

not lahow-rey ?  as in

For more information visit the Cyclorise and/or the Louri websites.