3, that’s the magic number

Now where did I leave that camera?
Now where did I leave that camera?

My mini guiding business had its second outing today and for the second time I had 3 riders. Considering the time of the year, weather, mud etc and the fact that my little corner of Wiltshire is not exactly a MTB mecca, I am pleased and I think it bodes well for the brighter and drier months ahead.

We're on a byway to Hell
We’re on a byway to Hell

Actually, the smaller groups get me used to doing things right without an over-sized group to manage. Though I have led much larger groups before for MB Swindon, there is something a little more stressful about doing it when taking someone’s money. So extra care is being taken to get it right.

I’m having to give some thought to a refund policy due to some cancellations and I’m even thinking about a loyalty scheme!

This way and that way
This way and that way

We were treated to ‘no rain’ today and relatively mild conditions, which meant I set off in a tee shirt! It got cold once we stopped for a tea/cake break in Avebury hence the jacket in the pictures.

We've come a long long way together
We’ve come a long long way together

About 25km and 300m of elevation was just right for this beginners ride and it was great to see a rider returning for his second ride with me and pushing himself (and his bike at times) a little further on this outing.

Its behind you!
Its behind you!

I should remember to take more photos as most of these were taken around the Cherhill Monument and there were plenty of other places that would have made for some interesting shots.

As the weather gets better, I plan on putting some longer rides on in Wiltshire and I have some plans to to host a ride or two in Wales soon too.

Cherhill Monument, Wiltshire
Cherhill Monument, Wiltshire

Its feel great getting people motivated and cycling on the hills and I look forward to doing much more of this as the year goes on….

So now, not De La Soul as the title suggests, cos i couldn’t find a decent video, but Beastie Boys – 3 MCs and 1 DJ

Gimme Shelter


G0016377-0001It was hot yesterday; 28 degrees I think. So I went for a 30km ride carrying enough gear and equipment to theoretically guide 8 people around in the middle of Winter! That included tools, first aid kit, spare clothes, a rescue blanket and even a group shelter.

I also took a map, even though I knew exactly where I was and where I was going – testing myself on compass bearings mostly. Part of the plan was also to make sure I was eating and drinking correctly and generally being a model mountain biker and wannabe guide.

All in the name of conditioning and practicing for the weekend ahead.

To be continued…


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.

Why do you need a MTB guide?

Yes I have been on a British Cycling mountain leader course. Yes I am planning on leading and am “bound to say this” but just listen for a moment…

Coniston Water
Not the Peak District – I haven’t been yet to take a photo.

Have you ever wanted to ride somewhere new and I don’t mean a trail centre?  Of course you have. Did you find somewhere and go ride it? What did you do?

You have a bunch of ways you can go about this and its not that hard really, is it?

So you saw some cool pictures on Instagram of something called Jacob’s Ladder. Where’s that? And the Google search begins. Peak District! That 3 hours away! Looks worth it though…

Next you search for cycling routes, the results that the world wide web presents you with are a little vague and everyone has different opinions on where you should ride – how am I going to decide?  I can’t drive 3 hours and miss out “the best trail in the Peaks”!

You remember those old MBR routes you cut out and kept for such an eventuality. This is more like it! But still they don’t seem to cover some of the bits you’ve heard about. Continue reading “Why do you need a MTB guide?”

Phase 1 – Complete

Wave at the camera on a stick!

High on top of a mountain on the edge of the Black Mountains we all stood around checking map markings, measuring distances and trying to figure out what we would do if someone had an injury at this point.

Then we all waved at my camera of course!

What a handsome chap

What were we doing? Well this was Day 2 of a British Cycling The Level 2 Mountain Bike Leadership Award course being run by Wye MTB. Continue reading “Phase 1 – Complete”