Guide Mountain bike Rides Wales Archives - Wye MTB

Night riding – why I love it!

Whenever you see images of mountain biking it seems to be of people riding on one of those endless summer days. You know the ones, those long leisure hours on the saddle with the panoramic views.  I love those rare days, but guess what?  I love riding in winter just as much!  ‘Come again?’ you say.  ‘I have two words for you….night riding’.

British Cycling Mountain Bike Leadership award

With the nights drawing in by late afternoon,to keep up your evening mid-week ride, then you have to ride in the dark.  Some regular mountain bikers have never tried it, and in my opinion, they are missing out.

Some of my best riding memories is heading to my local trail centre in the Forest of Dean to meet some mates in the pitch black. There is a chill in the air, so faff is kept to a minimum. We switch on our bike and helmet lights and head off into the blackness of the forest.

The ground is rock hard, and even the Blue graded trail which I would only normally ride with my youngest child in tow, has a magic-ness to it. The riding is quick, the rest stops are brief and chatter is kept to a minimum as we are all lulled into the silence of the woods.  

Your whole world is just within that beam of light.  As I said before, Magic.

Want to give night riding a go? A few pointers;

  • Bike lights (decent ones) are NOT cheap, but some bike shops/trail centres rent them out. Failing that, we all have that one friend who upgrades everything every year, show them an article on the new, must-have light and offer to take their old one off them for a good price!
  • Don’t ride alone.  There are a lot of group rides out there that you can tag on to.  I offer monthly night guided rides (last Thursday of the month) throughout the winter starting from Pedalabikeaway, Forest of Dean.  We ride and then have a curry and pint afterwards.  It’s like the perfect night out
  • Chuck a survival blanket in your rucksack. If you or your friend have an off, then you all can get very cold, very quickly.
  • Ride trails that you know and are well within your capability. They feel so different from daytime anyway, but you have the comfort of knowing where the exit points are in case you need to bail.
  • Don’t be scared of those reflective eyes you see staring at you through the trees. They are far more startled to see you.

 Are you a British Cycling MTB Leader?:-  fancy a bit of CPD to upskill you to lead night riding?  Then click here for information on our British Cycling Leadership courses including a specific Night Riding module for qualified leaders

British cycling Night Rider Leaders award


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Used and Abused – Gear Review 2019

We are in the lucky position that we get to ride our bikes almost daily in some amazing terrain in Wales – alright I know that is rubbing it in – which means we really use and abuse our kit!  We have picked 6 of the best we have used for our guiding and coaching this year;

Here are first few of the standout bits of kit….!

Orange Bikes 

I know their looks divides opinion, and that people think the suspension design is simplistic , but these bikes really do just keep on working!

We have had 2 this year, Windy’s Five and Gareth’s Stage 6.

Both have done over 150 big days out, and the only maintenance has been one set of bearings each. That’s a massive £40 spent between both bikes to keep them running sweet, and less than an hour on the tools. Compare that to some of the fancy linkage bikes out there, the Oranges just keep handling the abuse we dish out with no complaints.

The angles are super sorted too, which means you can grind them up the hills, and then have a smile for miles all the way down, and we all know there are some epic downs here in South Wales!

Yes the single pivot means that it can ‘jack up’ under braking, but choose your braking spots, anad learn to keep the throttle open and these are as fast as anyuthing else out there!

Burgtec Grips and Pedals

We have been using a range of the Burgtec products, from the bars, stems, chainrings, pedals and grips, but the two stand out products have been the grips and pedals.

We have used the new Greg Minnar grips. First thing we admired was the price…..£19.99 is mega competitive for some grips.

We really got on with the shape – 31.5mm seems to be the perfect width for our hands, and the tapered core means our hands sit really comfortable on them. The 25A rubber is supersoft (when you think the softest tyres are 42A) and this seems to really help absorb vibrations and help maintain grip, especially in the wet. All in all, they are the best £20 upgrade we have spent on our bikes!

What can I say about the pedals?

The composite ones below have been on the e-bike all year. £44.99 and they haven’t missed a beat!

They have the same great shape as the Penthouse ones, and have the same bearings and sealing too. The thinner pins, means they aren’t quite as planted as their more expensive brother, which means when we have been getting rowdy on the trail bike, the Penthouse have been the go to pedal of choice.

More to the point though, we haven’t had to touch them all year. Sure, they have some great battle wounds, from some of the rocky descents in Wales, but they just won’t die!

Still running the same bearings from new, and still super smooth!

Madison Flux waterproof Jacket

This has been the ultimate guiding waterproof, and we have given it some testing! It has a lovely soft shell construction, and a 4 way stretch to the material, which makes it super comfortable to wear, and a great fit!

It’s also super light and pack down really small, meaning there is never an excuse to not pack it in the guiding bag!

I think this also helps with it’s versitility. You don’t get too hot in it when cuaght in a summer downpore, but it’s great with a few layers underneath in the winter too.

The soft shell material, together with it’s great breathability, means we wear it a lot as a wind jacket when it’s not raining as well.

We really do think we are going to be hard pushed to find a better one, particularly for the money (£119)!

You’ll have to wait until Friday to find out what the other 3 bits of kit are!!!

Happy Shopping