Are you looking to try something new this summer? If the great weather has got you inspired to head out on an outdoor adventure, why not take a look at mountain biking? It’s not just an autumn/winter sport, although the extra mud and puddles are always fun!
Last month James and I headed over to Swinley Forest near Reading for some trail riding, after reading about it in the Halfords Beginner Guide to Mountain Biking – I didn’t realise we had such great purpose-built trails so close nearby!
Swinley Forest has 24km of all-weather way-marked trails, including a Green Beginner Route (1km long), Blue Intermediate Route (10km long) and Red Challenging Route (13km). We opted for the Blue Route which is described as being suitable for mountain bikers with ‘basic off-road riding skills’. My skills are very basic, and compared to when we went cycling in the Forest of Dean, I thought this Blue route was a little more challenging.
In places it had small obstacles such as roots and rocks to negotiate and some pretty steep gradients – both up and down – which really got your heart racing! It was so much fun though, and James and I had an awesome time putting our legs, and in my case my courage, to the test.
We finished with mud-splattered legs and huge grins across our faces – I think we’ll definitely be heading back to Swinley Forest again, and maybe after a few more visits I might be brave enough to take on the Red Route. Maybe…
We took our own bikes with us – I have a Liv Rove 0 which is a mountain-bike style hybrid with front suspension – but if you don’t have a suitable ride you can hire one from the Swinley Bike Hub. They have a small shop here as well, and offer coaching sessions if you’re looking to improve your skill, confidence and flow on the bike.
Even better, there is a Muc-Off bike wash which was definitely needed after we emerged from the forest after our trail adventure! It meant we could hose the bikes down before putting them back on the car and get home knowing we just had to clean ourselves, not the bikes as well.
The Swinley Bike Hub is part of The Look Out Discovery Centre which includes a Go Ape!, children’s science exhibition and play area, and a big cafe with outdoor seating – I can imagine it’s a great place to go as a family as well with so much to do.
If you’re thinking about giving mountain biking a go, definitely check out the Halfords range of bikes. The below is a great video from MTB coach Sam Fowler as well, on improving your riding position and tackling trails with confidence. I’m still working on the ‘zen-like flow’ but getting my adrenalin pumping is an amazing feeling!
Have you been mountain biking- any tips?
*This is a sponsored post in partnership with Halfords.