After a bit of a false start, with Rich getting a flat, road closures and huge amounts of traffic we pulled into the car park at The Lookout.

We had between us a GPS route from GPSies.com and one that was shown to us by Leo back on a freezing day in February. That was a day that froze Camelbak water in the tube and exhausted muscles. Ok, the muscles thing was probably me not being able to keep up with Leo.

Saturday was the complete opposite in some respects, baking hot and loose dusty trails, but similar in others. No one around. For hours we pootled along the trails and saw no-one.

Even in the areas that had seen fire damage the forest was still eerily beautiful. The charcoal floor of the forest and blackened tree bases gave way to nut brown dried leaves, and the north east area was silent.

It was a good 22km route although the heat go to us by the end and I’d like to figure out a way of making it flow better.

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The Government’s proposals to sell off Forestry Commission forests is now open for consultation. The big danger for mountain bikers is that public access to forests will be reduced to a bare minimum as private landowners seek to maximise income and reduce the perceived hassle of having public access to forests. Please voice your concerns in response to the consultation. You can submit your responses online here.

http://www.forestry.gov.uk/england-pfeconsultation

Forests under threat include: Wendover; Bramshill and Crowthorne; Beechenhurst; Mortimer; Savernake; the New Forest; Queen Elizabeth Country Park; Blackdown; Bedgebury; Alice Holt; Thetford; West Harting Down. Further afield: Kielder; Whinlatter; Hamsterley; Dalby; Grizedale. Don’t let it happen!

More details: http://38degrees.org.uk/pages/save_our_forests_action_centre

Meet Boxhill and Westhumble train station car park, 10:30, Saturday 29th January. Varied pace, mixed ability, approx. 40km or thereabouts.

09:24 London Waterloo [WAT] Box Hill & Westhumble [BXW] 10:21
09:38 Clapham Junction [CLJ] 15 Box Hill & Westhumble [BXW] 10:21

Trail Ride

January 5, 2011

For anyone interested in getting a bit of dirt under their tyres this weekend, here’s a Trail Break event within easy striking distance of London.

http://bit.ly/e9o80v

Looks easy enough by train [08:15 Waterloo to Godalming 09:00]

We all went our different directions over the Xmas/NY break, for various reasons.

On 30th Jan, the Berks on Bikes MTB club was in town for their annual City Slickers ride, which involves about 50 miles of riding from Chiswick to Docklands and back, mostly along the Thames Path, usually with lots of A bike and some snowdiversions to test the bikes’ suspension on flights of steps. One of the riders couldn’t quite manage to ride back up the steps in front of the fountains in Battersea Park so, instead of the straightforward approach, he demonstrated a much more impressive ascent. Starting by trackstanding his 7″-fork hardtail parallel with the bottom step, he started to hop sideways up one step at a time, trials-style. He made it right to the top: very impressive!

Three of us went out on New Years Day to Swinley for a short blast. Though all the snow had melted, the mud wasn’t too bad. It’s the best way to kick off a new year, for sure!

Save our Forests!

December 20, 2010

Here’s just a sample of the forests in striking distance of London that could be hit by the Government’s sell-off of our national forests: Wendover; Bramshill and Crowthorne; Beechenhurst; Mortimer; Savernake; the New Forest; Queen Elizabeth Country Park; Blackdown; Bedgebury; Alice Holt; Thetford; West Harting Down.

Tag: This Forest for SALE

Tag the trees, spread the word.

Selling these national treasures off to the highest bidder could result in them being closed to mountain bikers. Don’t let it happen.

Please sign the petition at the web link below, then, even more important, use the resources on the page to start campaigning. There are posters, leaflets, “forest for sale” tree tags, briefings, and lots more.

http://www.38degrees.org.uk/page/content/save-our-forests-campaign

Surrey Hills after the snow.

December 12, 2010

Trail conditions weren’t too bad today, though most of the snow had melted. There was some mud, and both bikes and riders were filthy on the return home, but the trails mostly felt pretty good to ride. Just two of us out today: me and Neil; but there were quite a few other riders out, including some of the West Drayton crew. Mountain biker takes a fast, bermed corner.

We started at Milton Heath car park and rode the bridleway up Leith Hill then did Regurgitator both ways and Summer Lightning. It’s easy to forget just what a good singletrack blast is to be had on Summer Lightning! Back up Wolvens Lane and up to Leith Hill Tower. Neil made it up the final steep climb for the first time. I failed due to gear problems.

We took the wrong bridleway down, and entered Holmbury by road, then up the cricket pitch climb to the summit of Holmbury Hill. Parklife was in surprisingly good shape, if a bit squishy in parts, then we took a singletrack link to the road above the reservoir before the sweet singletrack descent of Barry Knows Best. Barry now has some fencing at the bottom which seems directed at diverting riders onto the road and off the roadside footpath into Peaslake where sustenance was found in the shape of one of the Peaslake Village Store’s legendary cheese straws, a huge chunk of tasty carrot cake and a steaming mug of tea.

Time had caught up with us and we took the usual route back to the car park: Rad Lane then the trail marked as National Cycle Network route 22 which leads back to the car park. The picture is of a random biker doing one of the final berms on Barry. None of the pictures of us was any good.

Epping Forest in the snow.

December 5, 2010

Kevin riding by the shore of a frozen lake

A couple of us went to Epping Forest on a Friday off, as it looked as though the snow was going to melt on Saturday or Sunday so we wanted to make the most of it while it lasted.

Getting there by rail was easier than I expected, using the Overground to Hackney Central then riding round the corner to Hackney Downs to catch a train to Chingford. There are direct trains to Chingford from Liverpool St.

Trail conditions were pretty good. The snow was only a couple of inches deep and the mud below was frozen. Epping can be a real bog in the wet, so it’s at its winter best when frozen. It was a bit difficult to be sure of following the singletrack trails as they can be hard to find in the snow but it was a good ride nevertheless. Looks like there’s a lot more singletrack than I’d previously realised. I’m going to make more of an effort to learn my way around Epping Forest for future rides.

Winter ride, Chilterns

November 28, 2010

Don’t put your bike away for the winter! Frozen ground makes for excellent riding. It’s much easier to ride on frozen mud than wet mud.

Two of us did a 40km loop in the Chiltern Hills today and all the mud was frozen solid so the trails were hard and fast. It was a lovely day out: blue skies; crystal-frosted grass; frozen ponds; even a pair of red kites.

For winter riding you just need to make sure you’re wearing lots of layers. Today called for: fat winter hiking socks; winter boots; padded lycra winter tights; baggy trousers; short sleeve merino baselayer; long sleeve merino baselayer; microfleece; light waterproof; two buffs; pisspot helmet with no vents; glove liners and the thickest gloves available. That did the trick.

I also carry a spare pair of waterproof sealskinz socks after an unfortunate incident last winter at Swinley when I slipped and plunged both feet into a big, icy puddle, filling both boots with ice-cold water. I’m not letting that happen again!

Unfortunately, today’s route would be sliced in half by the proposed HS2 train link, which is planned to plough straight through the Chilterns designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It’s difficult to see the justification for this when it would shave only 20 minutes off the journey between London and Birmingham. The current journey time is already only 1:22, which seems hardly likely to deter anyone. Join the campaign here http://stophs2.org/

Sign up with http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/london_mtb/ to be notified of future rides.

We will be meeting at Boxhill and Westhumble railstation carpark at 10.30AM. Trains are running ok that day.

The ride will be approx two hours in duration taking in some trails and singletrack around Ranmore Common and Leith Hill.

Please ensure you bring a working bike (!), clothing appropriate for the day, a helmet, any tools specific to your bike, plus a couple of spare tubes.

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