It seems the Olympic Mountain Biking track will remain more or less as it was for the Games, but with the addition of additional obstacles in front of the technical sections to deter the unwary and divert them onto a chicken run. It’s nice to see a sensible approach, for a change, instead of the usual excessively cautious approach to health and safety.


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

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