Virginia MTB Trail and thoughts about MTB culture in the UK

Posted: November 11, 2011 in 2011, General

Check out this video. Forget about big jumps, radical moves and bike tricks; to me this is about something far more fundamental….just riding your bike and going somewhere.

This whole concept was brought to my attention last Sunday while riding with the two Richards. Richard M (he of Duracell Bunny fame) doesn’t often do longer rides with us, not because he isn’t capable (couldn’t be further from the truth!) but because he ends up riding at Thetford Forest or other ‘designated areas’, racing or sometimes just going out for mile upon mile on the road. A comment he made, sort of questioned not so much the validity of the trail centre experience, rather than musing upon the reasons for riders getting into the mindset that trail centre stuff is what mountain biking is all about.

Suffolk is not blessed with magnificent terrain, we do not have hills, valleys, pack horse trails etc. There are no post industrial landscapes to play on as the area has long been an agricultural (arable) bread basket. The odd man made forest here or there, the occasional pit or bombhole and bridleways, miles of bridleways.

Let’s face it, riding round the edges of fields is dull and if that is all you have access to then I suggest the road might prove more entertaining and fulfilling. If you use the bridleways as you would a road however, a way of getting from a to b, then they become less uninspiring. Next time you plan your weekend ride, set yourself a target whether it be a cafe or even a trail centre, and do something radical….ride there! Leave the car in the drive, get on your bike and ride it. Drag out the OS map and plan something different.

Since we have started riding to Thetford whenever possible, our fitness levels have improved considerably. The traditional two hour blast round the trail network is often replaced with a four hour ride. Some of this is time we would normally spend loading and unloading the car, driving there (wherever ‘there’ is) and back, as well as a lot of faffing about in the car park. We start a bit earlier and just ride, trying to maintain a brisk pace throughout but keeping enough energy in reserve so that when we hit the trail centre, we have enough energy to blatt round the red route, black route, gay trail (delete as appropriate) and still ride home. Leave around 8 or 8.30 and be back in time for a shower and lunch.

This may not be everyone’s cup of tea, nor might it be possible for everyone but wandering about on your bike, finding new places to ride and doing a proper ‘ride’ instead of just doing a bit of singletrack, stopping and chatting ad nauseum, livens up your riding, makes you more familiar with your local area and may just make you stronger so you can get more out of trail centre days, or equip you for more ‘epic’ rides or races.

Here endeth the sermon…… 🙂

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