UK Mountain Biking – You’ll Be Surprised
When I first considered mountain biking around the UK, for some reason, I just thought – ‘Why would you?’ All three of my male housemates and I are avid bikers whether it be cycling around Europe taking in the sights and meeting other travellers, or taking part in races and just simply keeping fit. When I asked them if they had ever been mountain biking and would they ever do it in the UK, they just looked at me blankly and grunted, ‘Maybe, dunno.’ which wasn’t particularly helpful. In fact, we all own a mountain bike at home, but use them as road bikes to get from A to B, which occurred to me is pretty wasteful considering they’re durable, and rough and ready for an actual adventure rather than a concrete, fun-filled commute.
And as much as I would love to set off on a mountain bike adventure to Sierra Nevada for as long as it takes me, I have a full time job. But why venture away from the Great British Isles when everything you need from a biking trip is firmly set and always has been, right on our doorstep? And I don’t mean a leisurely Saturday bike ride on Hampstead Heath. The UK, I discovered, is perfect for mountain bike fanatics or newbie cyclists, and is in fact one of the most popular destinations for the sport worldwide, and you don’t have to travel across the world to experience it. Weekend biking trips are fast becoming a popular way to escape the city and get fit.
With any mountain biking trip, the rider is looking for a challenge, beautiful scenery, rough terrain, and the chance to improve fitness, strength and endurance levels. Me being me, the almost impossible challenge was the most attractive prospect. Hence why my first trip was slap bang in the middle of the Peak District. Yes, I’d gone mad.
Being a London cyclist and an asthmatic, the climb of the Holborn viaduct is enough to send me over the edge. So as soon as we arrived in Edale I immediately realised what I had got myself into. Inhaler at the ready, we embarked on a circular route encompassing trails including Rushup Edge, Roych Clough and Jacob’s Ladder. It took us the whole day to complete (with numerous sandwich stops and puncture fixing sessions) but in the end, it was utterly breath taking. The view at Hollins Cross was particularly lovely, and after spluttering and wheezing through several attempts to reach the top, I made it, completely in awe of myself, my housemates and the view. It was completely and utterly worth it.
Sat in my office on the following Monday, I had the bug. The cycling bug. It was a quiet morning, so I spent the next two hours planning my next route – a 5 day stint along ‘The Cornish Way’, a route consisting of six trails starting in Bude and finishing in Land’s End – 180 miles of British salty air and (fingers crossed) blue skies. The route was highly recommended by two mountain biking experts we met in an Edale campsite named Bill and Ted (no joke!), who also warned us it was unlikely we would be able to get our bikes on a train back home without a reservation – they weren’t wrong.
So as I trawl through eBay searching for a second hand mountain bike on a budget remember one golden rule – listen to the experts. They will always know better than you. One thing is for sure, I won’t be leaving the British Isles anytime soon for my next mountain biking cravings.
Rachael on behalf of Chillisauce.co.uk, an events company specialising in luxury travel and stag do ideas. You can find her exploring and enjoying London life when she’s not at work.