On the Saturday of Easter Weekend we hired a couple of mountain bike from the Bike Barn at Dalby Forestfor the day.
The Bike Barn is located near the Visitor Centre and can be accessed via the Whitby road from Pickering. Car parking costs £7 for the day which allows you to park at any of the car parks within the forest throughout the day. This can be avoided if you enter on foot but it is a challenge to find a place away from the forest to park the car as pretty much every roadside has restrictions.
In a post last week, A little gem revealed: Low Farm Campsite near Dalby Forest, I recommended a campsite located just a couple miles walk from Dalby Forest. You can camp there for £10 a night per tent and follow the public footpath from the site to join the Blue Trail in the forest which takes you to the Visitor Centre and Bike Barn.
Dalby Forest is a mountain biking hot spot and is ideal for families wanting an active day out to professional and expert level bikers. The main car park had reached maximum capacity by midday, probably because it was Easter Weekend, but is I still recommend getting there in the morning to get a spot. Other car parks are available but they are much further away from the Visitor Centre.
The Bike Barn has a good selection of bike available to hire from suspension mountain bikes to tag-a-longs and baby buggies. Prices start from £15 for 1.5 hours hire. View the full price listhere. We hired two mountain bikes with front suspension at a cost of £29 each for the whole day. It is recommended that you reserve your bikes prior to arrival so as to avoid disappointment. I phones up two days before and was only asked for my contact details and our heights. You are given a 20 minute window to collect your bikes on the day or you will potentially lose your booking.
We collected the bikes at 9.30am and were required to return them by 5.30pm. The cost is quite high compared to what the both of us usually are prepared to spend on a day’s activity but considering the quality of the bike and the fact that we would need to fork out several hundreds, if not thousands of pounds to own our own bikes it seemed worth it. The Bike Barn is well stocked with bikes and accessories and we studied the pricing labels of some with absolute shock. One bike on show cost in excess of £5000! The hire we had paid instantly became a good price.
The bikes looked brand spanking new and provided a smooth ride except for the seats which were extremely hard and I still had a sore bottom two days on. The helmets provided were easy to fit and very comfortable to the point we forgot we had them on most of the time. They were also a lot more flattering compared to the helmet I was forced to wear when a child. A spare inner tube and pump was provided in case of a puncture which was handy. This was only chargeable if used.
The pocket sized fold up maps cost £1 each but if you are the thrifty type you can print your own off the website here. I did this in a rush and didn’t alter the ratio properly so the writing was impossible to read. We gave in to buying a map.
We studied the map a couple of day before and decided the Blue Routewas best suited to our ability. The route was described as simple, on mixed terrain and steep in places. The next option up is the Red Route but it was recommended for proficient bikers with challenging climbs, tricky descents with technical features such as drop offs and large rocks.
Half way around the Blue Route we became bored of the wide limestone tracks and decided to venture on to the Red Route. The first three stretches took us along narrow earth tracks crossed by tree routes, small humps and cambered corners. The forth section was considerable harder and I got off to walk my bike over the jumps. D did the same but then decided to challenge one section very slowly which sadly ended in disaster. D twisted his ankle as he fell over and it was clear we wouldn’t be going much further on the bikes that day.
All the tracks and routes are well signed so it was easy to find our way back via an ‘exit route’ which was basically a forest track. D was able to pedal slowly on the even surface and we reached the Bike Barn quite quickly.
Sadly we had to end our mountain biking day after just three hours but we will definitely be back once D’s ankle has healed. From the sections we completed we have concluded that an additional route which is single track and more exciting than the Blue Route yet doesn’t have the technical features of the Red Route would be ideal. When we go again we will probably hit the Red Routeagain but with more caution as the Blue Rout was just too dull for us.
If you are a family with children the Green Route offers level and easy routes suitable for all ages and bikes. If you have children who are quite fit and able to ride confidently I would recommend you take the Blue Route as it is wide enough to go at a slow pace but is more varied and less busy than the Green Route. If you are a professional or expert biker you will no doubt already know about Dalby Forestand its suitability for your ability.