Choosing which bike to get depends a lot on what type of riding you are going to do. I love off-road cycling, and while I’ve definitely become more confident on my road bike I think I will always prefer to visit a trail and get a bit muddy! Check out my experience in the Forest of Dean here.
However, unless you’re heading off along a very technical route, you don’t necessarily need a mountain bike with full suspension. Riverside paths, parks and disused railway bridleways can be navigated no problem on a hybrid with chunky tyres.
I took my Carrera Subway 1 for a jaunt along the Worth Way and Forest Way, which I’ve ridden a few times before. It is a mostly flat route that travels from Three Bridges to East Grinstead, and then on to Eridge (where the Spa Valley Railyway goes from to Tunbridge Wells). It’s a muddy, gravelly, surface which I imagine becomes harder to cycle on when it rains, but for our trip the weather was mild and sunny – perfect in fact!
Hybrid bikes have an upright riding position, giving you a good view of the road ahead while putting less strain on your back and neck than a road bike. They also have flat handlebars, instead of the ‘drop’ handlebars you see on road bikes which allow you to adopt an aerodynamic position.
Some will have bigger tyres and suspension to improve off-road performance, while some will have thinner tyres and more aggressive positions to give some extra speed on smooth surfaces or roads. The Carrera Subway 1 is of the first design, although it doesn’t have any suspension, but once I’d played around with the seat height it was pretty comfortable! Riding on trails does make your arms ache after a while due to the vibrations from the uneven surface, as well as the fact you’re gripping the handlebars a bit tighter to stabilise yourself. I was pretty glad of this fact when a Golden Retriever decided he wanted to play and ran in front of my bike – screeching to a stop with my back wheel sliding sideways definitely got my heart racing!
We covered 40 miles in total – 20 miles out and 20 miles back, with a pub stop at halfway. Unfortunately we were too late in the day for food but we grabbed a drink and refuelled with CLIF bars and salted peanuts before heading back. Picking up the pace in the last few miles we managed to beat the sunset, just. I keep forgetting that it gets darker earlier now!
Have you got any off-road trail cycling recommendations?
NB: This is a sponsored post in partnership with Halfords. I received a Carrera Subway 1 women’s hybrid bike as part of the campaign, which is a fantastic option for beginner cyclists.