My last experience of mountain biking ‘off-piste’ (not on a flat road in the East Riding of Yorkshire) was a couple of years ago, in Dalby Forest, North Yorkshire. 30 minutes in to our day-long adventure, Dave rolled his bike off a rock and, in slow motions, fell to the ground in such a way that his ankle twisted. The rest of our adventure holiday was spent it Leeds A&E.
Along with several other bloggers, I was invited to the Forest of Dean by members of Forest of Dean and Wye Tourism Association to experience some of the activates in the area and then share my experiences to you, lovely person; my reader.
Pedal A Bike Away is nestled in the middle of the forest and serves as a hub to the hundreds of cyclists of all ages that visit the numerous and diverse cycle trails the area has on offer. Kitted out with a shop selling biking attire, a counter serving hot and cold food, clean toilets, a rental shed, plenty of parking and a yard with seating, Pedal A Bike Away is perfectly geared up for visiting novices to resident pros.
On arrival, we were greeted by Ian and Midge (also a blogger at Muddy Mam) from Peddle A Bike Away and lead through the yard filled with an array of different bikes and their riders either getting ready to set off or guzzling a refreshment from the shop. Normally not one for crowds, I actually enjoyed the buzz of the area and idolised the many couples and groups arriving in their day vans with bikes strapped to the boot or roof.
Midge from Pedal A Bike Away explaining downhill techniques
One of the Pedal A Bike Away guys fitted each of us with a bike then demonstrated how to use the breaks and gear functions correctly. The hire process is efficient meaning we were ready to hit the tracks straight from giving our bikes a test drive around on the tarmac.
Our tour started on the Family Trail, a green coded track named as such due to its suitability for most ages and abilities. Each of the tracks is colour coded- green, blue, red or black – to indicate the level of difficulty from easy to ‘severe’. Saying that, any slight uphill got my thigh burn started but it was nothing compared to the uphill runs we were about to endure.
Pedal A Bike Away’s map of mountain bike trails in the forest.
Even though the place was busy at the bike centre, we saw proportionately fewer people out on the tracks than I anticipated, which suggests how big the area is. The winding dirt tracks took us through the trees and through clearings and we stopped regularly to catch our breath and admire the scenery around us. The experience of our blogging group ranged from ‘beginners’ upwards yet everyone managed the accents at their own pace. One great aspect of mountain biking is that if you can already ride a bike and you have some determination, the blue tracks and many of the red tracks are manageable.
Ian from Pedal A Bike Away
As the saying goes; ‘What goes up, must come down’. And down we were about to go!
Ian and Midge lead us to the entrance of a downhill trail. Each side of the entrance had large warning signs that would be enough to deter me from going any further if it wasn’t for our guides telling us that’s the way down. ‘No Peddling’ was the rule, not that we needed to. After a short pep talk, our group lined up in single file, ready to sacrifice ourselves to whatever lay beyond that first drop of the Launch Pad. I counted five seconds in my head once the person in front of me disappeared down the trail before pushing myself forward and bringing my feet flat to the pedals.
The Lauch Pad
The experience was truly exhilarating! I had water in my eyes from laughing so much as I flew down the track. Yelps, gasps and screams echoed around me from the riders in front, behind and from myself. Within less than a minute we were all at the bottom laughing and puffing. It was fantastic!
Me braving it down a hilly bit of track
It costs £20 for half-day bike and helmet hire from Pedal A Bike Away and the trails are open to everyone at no cost- perfect if you have your own gear. You can park up by the centre and take advantage of the café selling homemade soup and cakes before hitting the tracks.
I was invited to Pedal A Bike Away by the owners and the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley Tourism Association complimentary of the business owners in return for honest accounts of my experience. As always, all words and opinions are my own.