The Lines of Longleat

Windhill Bike Park

My jumping was definitely off the boil today. It was barely simmering if I’m honest but I still had an amazing time at Wiltshire’s (yes Wiltshire’s) first bike park.

Someone correct me if I’m wrong but I do believe that WindHill Bike Park right next door to Longleat Safari Park is Wiltshire’s first and therefore finest bike park and trail centre.  Ok so Tidworth is just about in Wiltshire too…

Built by the guys behind Tidworth Freeride and the legendary S4P B1ke Park (‘home’ to Sam Reynolds, Brendan Fairclough, Olly Wilkins) Windhill is simply put a belter!

THE best blue run I have ridden, some gnarly black lines with drops and jumps, an awesome rooty red and a massive pro line all make for a superb day out and all for a mere £7.

The blue line flows and flows with a great set of table tops thrown in for good measure – we must have rode that 4 times! We sessioned the table tops and also various sections of the other black and red runs to master the drops and pick our lines in and out of each bit.

It was a great day and being a week day it was pretty quite too.

I am no expert when it comes to getting airborne and today was no exception and i just wasn’t feeling it. Still a cracking time was had and now I know that this place is so close and so much fun I’ll be back for more pretty soon…

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4 bikes in less than 24 hours

No it wasn’t my birthday, but somehow I managed to ride all 4 of my bikes at the weekend all with in the space of 24 hours!  Here’s how it happened.

Bike 1 – DMR Wrath
Location – Devizes Skate Park

DMR Bikes -  WRATH
Will I ever grow up?  Fat chance!

My daughter was going to play with a friend for the day in Devizes, so when I dropped her off at her home I took my DMR Wrath the skatepark. The DMR Wrath is a kindof half BMX cruiser and half jump bike, I’m not sure I can go down to a 20″ BMX so I think this bike has to move on sometime soon so I can make room for a proper jump bike (or maybe I’ll just fit some forks to this one??).

The skatepark is great fun, with some 4 and 5 foot quarter pipes which are great fun to pop out of and to drop in.  It makes you think about your back wheel and chainring positions you have to “jump” in.

My goal for the mini session was to “air out” of one 4 foot and clear the coping to land on an adjacent 4 footer – sort of like a kicker jump.  I just about managed to do this and left before the skateboarders I was chatting to could convince to have a go on 4 wheels!

Bike 2 – Genesis CDF
Location – “Around town”

Genesis CDF Cyclocross
Enjoyed riding this so much on Saturday. Must ride it more!

Under the pretense of going to the bank to get my kids their overdue pocket money out, I decided to help the environment and make the short trip on my cyclocross bike instead of taking the car.  What should have taken 30-40 mins took almost 2 hours as I had some fun on the dry and dusty trails taking the long way home.

Bike 3 – NS Bikes Surge EVO
Location – Local trails, Calstone

Hardcore Hardtail - NS Bikes Surge EVO
Can’t quite decide if I’m gonna keep the 30T chainring yet. Back to 32T?

A friend of mine has decided to get a mountain bike to get some exercise and lose a bit of weight. Saturday evening I had offered to introduce him to a short local loop to get him off road. He and his wife are also a friends of my wife and she actively encouraged me to go out with him (this couldn’t get any better)…

So we had a little pedal as I got him introduced to some locations on his doorstep he had never even been to.  Once he’d had his intro, he went home for a curry and I had another blast around.

Bike 4 – Vitus Escarpe VRX
Location – Cotswolds

Vitus Bikes Escarpe VRX
This is the life!

This was my only planned ride for the weekend and the weather was perfect for an explore around some semi-familiar trails near Uley and Dursley in Gloucestershire.

Some great fun was only dampened slightly by one of the gang having a potentially really nasty over the bars moment on the most tame part of the trail.

We still managed a couple of hours riding and enjoyed the sun.

Short video below of Sunday’s ride.   Next stop Ladybower Reservoir!

Drone filming and jumping

Clumps 1
Back to the top again

My mate Gary has a drone. A DJI Mavic drone. And now I want one!

I’ve found my wings again this last few weeks at a local spot and we had a great time on Saturday hitting the singletrack and the jumps in the woods.  When the woods opened out a little we thought the drone would be a great way to capture some of the action.

Clumps 2
Time for Take 2, or is it 3?

Its so cool to see yourself in action like this.  Regular readers of my blog will know I like to try and take the GoPro off me and the bike from time to time, but you can’t get footage like this unless you actually get the camera in the air.

Gary has previously flown RC helicopters, but his newest toy is a DJI Mavic and he’s working towards obtaining his CAA Permit to take drone flying a little further. Also if you didn’t know, you actually need a permit in order to legally fly a drone further than 120 metres and out of line of sight (or something like that).

Clumps 3
And that’s a wrap…

Anyway, enough of me droning on (I crack myself up sometimes), its time to let the riding and the aerial photography do the talking. So here’s the awesome results of Gary’s filming on Saturday afternoon, and go follow him on YouTube or Vimeo here.


All stills and the video thanks top Gary Lee / Ridgeway Drones

This Guiding Gig is Heavy Dude

MTB Guiding British Cycling Leadership
Looks innocent enough doesn’t it

This year I decided to take my cycling and interest in mountain biking to a new level and get qualified as a Mountain Bike Leader and pursue the British Cycling course. Why?

I enjoy leading rides for friends and as part of MB Swindon and I’d like to do it more professionally and do something within my local community.

I’ve done my course and today booked my assessment.  Part of the assessment involves demonstrating that you know what you need to carry as a ride leader in a Level 2 environment.  Its a lot of stuff!

MTB Guiding British Cycling Leadership
A bag within a bag?

My EVOC FR Trail Team back pack has a 20 litre capacity and boy do you need it!

As you can see above I put a large dry bag in mine. This is useful as it doubles as a rubbish bag, dry spot to sit on etc and also means someone can assist if necessary and take it all out of my bag without me having to undo my straps.

But whats in it?

MTB Guiding British Cycling Leadership
Woah! Wait a minute!

Its packed full of all sorts of essentials from spare inner tubes to a first aid kit and a group shelter. Lets take a closer look. But be warned, once you go down the rabbit hole you may question what you carry on your rides!

MTB Guiding British Cycling Leadership
Tool bag and  pump

My tool kit is pretty extensive (topic for another blog post I think) and has everything I need for fixing punctures, adjusting gears, breaking and fixing chains, tightening bolts etc It also contains some spares by way of nuts, screws, bolts, quick links and the ever useful gorilla tape and tie wraps.

MTB Guiding British Cycling Leadership
Map and Compass

A map and compass is obviously vital, even though I carry a Garmin GPS and a phone, you can’t rely on technology and more to the point batteries in an emergency.

MTB Guiding British Cycling Leadership
Tools, multiple tools

There’s that tool kit gain, featuring my Leatherman and my Topeak multitool. Also you can see 2x inner tubes including a 26″ tube which will fit all wheel sizes, even a 29er in an emergency.  I have a small microfibre trail towel and some tissues – possible for wiping blood, sweat, tears or grease from your skin – or maybe just for giving your nose a good blow!

MTB Guiding British Cycling Leadership
Rations and money

For a big day out I will carry lunch, but its always good to carry a selection of snacks that you are willing to donate to struggling riders when in need of a boost of energy.  In the case of diabetics, an energy gel could deliver a life saving dose of sugar.

Oh and that’s my wallet!

MTB Guiding British Cycling Leadership
First Aid / Shock Pump

More details – First Aid kit, a mini pump (capable of both Presta and Shrader valves), a shock pump and a couple of orange items. What are they then?

MTB Guiding British Cycling Leadership
This isn’t even for me!

Well the small orange dry bag, contains a windshell, gloves and a hat for keeping a casualty warm in case we have to hang around for an extended length of time.  While you can ask and expect your riders to carry certain items of clothing and supplies, the role of a Level 2 ride leader is to be prepared in case they haven’t!

A few other items you may have spotted.

  • Pencil and Paper – noting map coordinates, taking other notes perhaps when you have to monitor an injured persons vital signs while waiting for help
  • Group Shelter – that yellow bag is a shelter for 6-8 people manufactured by Cyclewise in Cumbria especially for BC coaches and leaders.
  • Survival bag – the orange rectangle on the right is a large plastic bag that can be used to keep the rain off an injured rider, place on wet or cold ground etc
  • My coat and buff are there too and will be in the bag on a day where the weather could turn.  I’d like a smaller, lighter one but the one I have my eye on is £150!
MTB Guiding British Cycling Leadership
Woah! Wait a minute!

I think that just about covers it. I haven’t weighed it, as I’d rather not know. The bag itself is sturdy, add 2/3 litres of water for a few extra kilos and then fill it with all of this stuff and its significant!

This is best practice and what is advised by British Cycling. You can share the gear out in some groups and you may decide to leave some clothing items behind if the weather can be relied upon. But its important to be prepared and to be capable of carrying this amount of gear.

So when you go on a guided ride spare a thought for the guide as he’s probably carrying a lot more than you are and working harder on those climbs carrying the extra weight. And be thankful that he/she has taken the steps to ensure your safety.

Seek and ye shall find

Ask, and it shall be given you;
seek, and ye shall find;
knock, and it shall be opened unto you

Why not quote The Bible every now and again!

Or by contrast maybe Iggy Pop?

And I’m the world’s forgotten boy
The one who’s searchin’, searchin’ to destroy

The point is get out and look for it… Find a trail. Build a trail. Shred a trail.  Ok I’m not really a shredder!

Let us finish this, once and for all. I came to this dimension to destroy turtles. The more… the merrier! Now come! Come and face your doom!

Yes another quote, this time from Shredder off of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!

I’m no shredder like I said, but like many of us normal folk I like to think I can tear up a trail from time to time!  LOL Who am I kidding!

Anyway, the whole point of this post was to show you a new POV edit of some local stuff, most of which we only found recently. Some built by others, some by us, some made by wildlife, some cheeky little off piste bits but mostly all dusty, dead leaf crunchy stuff within a short pedal of my house.

Go and have a look for yourself, its out there.

I feel I should have ended with another quote…. hmm