We caught up with Becky our wonderful bike guide on her favourite mountain bike ride in Wales. Becky will be our lead guide during all our Mountain Bike Breaks in Wales.
One of my favourite routes in North Wales is the Pont Scethin. Most of the books will say ride it clockwise, but due to erosion on the tracks it’s actually a nicer ride anti-clockwise starting from Bontddu, which is on the road from Dolgeallau to Barmouth (A496).
The route begins with a steady climb on tarmac travelling up towards a farm track where the real climbing begins. Riding over sheep fields and heading up to the saddle before the descent to Pont Scethin, you experience stunning views over the Mawddach estuary and looking towards Cadair Idris (another great ride!). This is the place that I really love to sit for a while and just take it all in, so peaceful and you rarely see a walker or other cyclists up there.
Then begins a fun, technical descent – a loose rock track with quite a bit of technicality descends down, around the hillside, to Pont-Scethin, a quaint old packhorse bridge over the Afon Ysgethin.
This part feels very remote, and you continue on through a little bit of fun bogginess onto a farm track, where you can pick up a little speed down (watch out for the sheep and walkers!) to your next turn off, but all the time looking out to the expanse of Sea below.
After making the turn onto another tarmac track you eventually head off onto farm land again, with gradual incline – but just stunning scenery and coast line the whole time. Eventually you arrive at your second and last technical ascent – this is particularly rocky and if your skills allow is a great challenge – and if not, it’s only a small hike a bike to the gap where you have fantastic views back down towards the coast, or across to the forest where you are heading.
This descent is a lot of fun, loose, rocky and a few turns as you make your way down towards open land and head off down into the forest. One of my favourite sections of this ride is as you are nearing the end, just before you ride into the trees again, you are blessed with a beautiful view down the Afon Mawddach towards the estuary.
The last descent brings you out directly opposite your car, a perfect way to end. Such a remote feeling ride, and although only around 22km you won’t want to add more mileage! I just love the the remoteness and quietness of the ride, and the challenging rocky descents make it all worthwhile. Also, it would be hard to beat the stunning views across hills, mountains and sea, a great summer ride. As it is remote, make sure you are prepared – you will definitely need those energy balls!
A fitness holiday in London? Going beyond the mud of mountain bike trails however, you would be surprised at what there is to do in the capital city if you’re looking for an active holiday. Don’t believe us? Then rub your disbelieving eyes, book a stay in one of these serviced apartments, and take a look at our ideas below.
Get on your bike
You don’t have to do anything as arduous as Ride London (unless you want to), as there are bike trails for any difficulty level. There’s the Tamsin Trail around Richmond Park, for starters. It’s the perfect place for a ride, with acres of beautiful scenery surrounding you, and assorted wildlife to wonder at, including deer. While that won’t push you to the max, you could step it up a gear, and take the 48 km trail from Putney Bridge to Windsor Castle. Unfortunately, you will need to sort your own drinks flask out as it’s unlikely the Queen will be there with a celebratory cup of tea when you arrive!
Take to the waters
Thrillseekers will be desperate to take one of the high speed boat rides along the River Thames, but no matter how exciting they are, they don’t do much for your fitness level. To push yourself a little further, why not take out a kayak onto the river instead. You will probably get splashed by those erstwhile James Bonds whizzing past you on the speedboats, but you will at least have the satisfaction you are doing more to improve the strength and tone of your upper body than those maniacs. Check out the Hampstead Heath ponds as well, a popular destination for anybody looking for a swim. It’s best to go in the summer, however, as despite the crowds, the waters can get a little cold when the weather is chilly.
Scale the heights
Okay, so you aren’t allowed to scale Big Ben, no matter how tempted you are, and sitting atop the London Eye is a poor substitute for exercise. However, you can see London’s skyline while engaged in a wide variety of fitness activities across the city. You could make like Tarzan and take to the treetops at Go Ape in Battersea. You could scale the heights of the O2 Building, and then (if you’re very brave) take a bungee jump from atop it. And if you really aren’t afraid of heights, you could brave the UK’s tallest freefall, and try the the ArcelorMittal Orbit Abseil. Thankfully, you will be attached to a harness. Finally, no matter what the weather is like outside, you should try the Vertical Chill, an ice-climbing wall situated in Covent Garden. There’s something for every skill level, but you might want to wrap up in something warm before you head in there.
So, despite your unbelief, there is loads to do in London that will keep you fit and active during your holiday time. While the tourists are doing whatever tourists do in the city, you can take a break from the norm and enjoy some of the fabulous and energetic activities that are on offer to you. Phew!
There’s nothing like spur of the moment travel plans to make your working week more bearable. Therefore, it’s time to grab you besties, your partner, or those you love the most, and make the most of those free days you have before Monday morning kicks off another week again. Use your next meet-up at the pub to discuss where you’d all like to go and what sort of break you’d want. Keeping it in the UK will keep costs down, which is always good when you’ve had no time to prepare or save.
A micro adventure to Wales – Glamping Pods
Perhaps you want to continue the catch-up in a different city together, or you’d all prefer relaxing somewhere tranquil to get over all those late nights and overtime. Wherever you decide to go; a trip with your nearest and dearest will be something exciting to look forward to. The sooner you start preparing and planning; the better chance you’ll all have of going to do something you’ll all enjoy, and it will give you last-minute idea a little bit of organisation. The following are some ideas, inspiration, and advice for those who fancy getting away from it all and blowing out the cobwebs with a weekend of fun.
An Escape Full Of Fun And Fresh Air
You might be an action-loving sort of person and you’re not into doing very little, but the thought of a busy city also doesn’t excite you; a countryside escape, full of fresh air and scenery could be the ideal getaway for your group to enjoy. You can drive towards green fields, woodlands or forests, or find a coastal haven by the sea. The UK is full of beautiful environments, so start thinking about the sort of scenic views you’re all craving and go from there. Once you’ve chosen your location; look into some hotels and then you can book to do some activities, or find where you can go walking or hiking. Make sure you give yourself the opportunity to stop in local cafes and pubs to fill up on delicious local produce and a well-deserved beverage.
Micro adventure to Wales – Afan forest mountain biking
A New City Or Town To Enjoy
A city adventure, historical tour, or even a shopping trip in another town or city could be just the sort of getaway you’re after. The great thing about travelling to a new city for a spot of sightseeing or shopping is that you won’t be limited to just the one activity. The hustle and bustle of a place means that it’s full of restaurants and bars, entertainment venues, and plenty of history and culture, especially in the UK. You’ll probably need at least a couple of nights in the city you choose to visit; this will allow you to do a range of activities, and you won’t have to cram everything into just one day. Try to squeeze in an exhibition, show, or a landmark so that you feel like you’ve made the most from a place. You’ll need to keep your energy up on a city break, so make sure you research into where the best places to eat are. If you fancy an evening out, dancing the night; see if you’re able to book a booth or a table and treat yourselves to top-notch service. Book a table at a restaurant, or go for an afternoon tea; these will be the perfect addition to your travel adventure, and you’ll have made some awesome memories.
Guest post from Roxy Bike Mallorca:
Evening guys and girls I thought I’d give you a little inspiration for a summer adventure. How about grabbing your mountain bike and heading to Mallorca? Interested? read on….
Mallorca is a beautiful island in the Mediterranean Sea, a 2 hour 10 minute flight from London.
It has stunning beaches, beautiful hinterland charm and amazing hiking and mountain biking trails, with a mild and biking-friendly climate all year round.
Although the entire island is great for mountain biking, you can find the largest variety of rideable terrain is in the Eastern part of Mallorca, which is near Artá, Cala Millor and Son Servera. There are many single tracks, a nature reserve with a great selection of rideable trails and gorgeous coastal tracks in this region.
Mountain Biking in Mallorca is legal, however there are no legally built single tracks with berms or jumps, as 90% of the island is in private hands.
Mallorca’s hidden single tracks are best found by hiring a local guide who can show you the best spots without too much road riding and getting lost.
CaMi-Bike, where you may rent super high-quality bikes and book guided rides in different levels.
The owner is a young lady named Roxy, who has been living in Mallorca for 9 years and has specialised in Mountain Bike Events, private coaching and group skills courses and also offers private guiding for groups. You may contact her via Instagram: Roxybike_mallorca or on Facebook.
Mallorca is a hidden gem for mountain biking with absolutely amazing single tracks, gorgeous views and mostly great weather. If you are looking for the perfect family bike & beach combo holiday destination, Mallorca is a the choice!
As the nights get lighter and the days a little brighter the opportunities for us to get out on adventures increases! Have you been on a micro adventure in the UK?
You only get one life, you get to choose how you spend your time, but sometimes ‘adventure’ can seem financially out of reach however there is no need to reside yourself to the dull and mundane just yet. There are endless micro adventures you can get up to here in the UK without spending a fortune or needing a month off work, here is my top 10:
1. Head for your local trail center! I am a little biased as mountain biking is my passion so of course biking micro adventures are top of my list, but in the UK we have some great trail centers where there are routes for all abilities from green which is beginner level and good for children to black and orange for those for who their wheel to leave the ground and like it to be steep and technical. In the south head for Queen Elizabeth Country Park or Swinley Forest further afield Cannock Chase and the Chiltern Hills are super fun! If you need a little confidence boost book yourself a morning with a coach to help improve your cycling ability. Mountain bike trail guide coming soon subscribe to keep up to date.
2. The UK capital of adventure personally would be Wales. Head for Snowdonia for a micro adventure, where you will find great camping spots, pretty b&bs plenty of sheep along with loads of outdoor activities from white water rafting to climbing. At Plas Y Brenin you can get great coaching in kayaking and climbing.
3. Surf’s up! Jutting straight out into the Atlantic Ocean, Cornwall is a magnet for swell, creating perfect waves for surfing! Also having some of the best beaches in the UK ideal for rock pooling and beach combing adventures. Why not take on a litter pick for surfers against sewage at the same time. A micro adventure with purpose!
4. Go for a wild swim – whether it’s a lake, river or the sea find some friends and go for a dip! Remember to check the tide times if you pick the sea and a wet suit could be a good shout!
5. Sleep outside without a tent – you can pick up a bivvy bag from Go Outdoors armed with this and perhaps a friend or two and a camping stove and your local woods could become your first micro adventure.
6. See how far you can run/walk/cycle in a weekend/day/morning/evening…
7. Take a new route to work – Micro adventures can happen at any time, why not have one five days a week, I am fortunate enough to live on the South Downs a beautiful area. I first discovered just how beautiful when I mixed up my commute routes for a couple of weeks not only did this give me a real sense of achievement in finding new ways to work but I could use these cycling routes as new training rides as well.
8. Use this great site called Fancy Free Walks to find a walk from a new place. Martyn and I have been using this site to explore our local area finding walk with good pub stops and making an adventure of it.
9. Scotland – The most beautiful and wildest part of our great Island. Okay it can take a while to get there but the sleeper train from London is a great option or why not drive and stop off at different places along the way to make a real road trip of the UK. Read about biking in Scotland.
10. Enter a race! Not to win (unless you want too) but for the adventure. Racing gives you a reason to exercise and motivation to get outside and maybe try something new. There are loads of sites which have these types of challenges like Rat Race, Tough Mudder and Cycling Events UK the bonus is your likely to get a badly fitting t-shirt and a medal as well! Read about my Mum and I racing in the New forest.
Share your micro adventures with me on Facebook.
I started riding in 2012, socially completing the Purbeck hill-a-sarus sportive which I really enjoyed. One day bored, at work I started looking for other events and came across 24 Hours of Exposure, a 24 hour solo event, so I entered, this was to be my first ever race.
Since then I have tried many different mountain bike race formats, including Solo Endurance races, Team Endurance races, XC racing, Marathon Racing and Multi Day Stage racing.
I prefer the challenge of multi-day events and the endurance events. This year along with some Stage Racing I am also doing a 24 hour solo race and a 12 hour solo race and maybe even some XC races!
Club La Santa International 4 Day Stage Race
This was my 3rd time doing the 4 day stage race at Club La Santa in Lanzarote, 2015, 2017 and now 2018, why do I keep coming back? It’s a great event, great value for money and something to aim for when its cold wet and miserable in the UK.
This year I had the best preparation I have ever had, at the beginning of October I started with a new coach, Sally Bigham, one of the best and most successful stage racers in the world. Sally has been working me hard and I have been putting a lot of hours training in mainly using my Wahoo KickR which is great tool for training especially when training on power and doing quite complicated intervals as it sets everything for you and all you need to do is turn your legs at the right cadence, drink and sweat, a lot!
At the end of September I went to the Torq Fitness HQ to do a Lactate threshold test and FTP. The Lactate Threshold was all over as I suspect I was coming down with a cold as I woke up the next day full of cold and the FTP numbers were quite low but I had hardly ridden since Alps Epic due to being away with work for a month, my FTP was 198 Watts, about 6 weeks later this went up to 212 Watts and then on Christmas eve I was out riding and everything felt good so I decided to attempt one out on the road, I was amazed, I had jumped up to 266 Watts, a huge improvement and was feeling really strong, then on the 2nd of January I suffered another Asthma Attack which took around a week to get over and my training in January really took a hit, after that I was away with work again and then busy moving house so prior to flying to Lanzarote I had barely ridden.
I had been told not to ride too hard as I hadn’t ridden much in the lead up to the race, I started out nice and steady on the road until we hit the dirt, I felt good so I pushed and pushed and pushed, everything felt so good the bike was great my legs felt strong so off I went, this stage was different to past years so I couldn’t really compare the times but my position amongst the other Brits out told me I had seen quite a lot of improvement so I was very happy. The conditions were tough as well, high winds and cooler than normal made things tough.
On Stage Two I decided to ride with my friend Sarah Hewitt, she was sat in 2nd place after Stage One and I knew there was going to be some tough sections on this stage with the head winds so I rode with her and acted as a wind block for her. I really enjoyed working together, we worked hard in tough conditions and she retained second place. About 5km from the end of the stage I had a mechanical, my gear cable had pulled through and I couldn’t shift out of the hardest gear, after a couple of minutes deciding if I carry on in the hard gear or fix it I decided to fix it, Sarah carried on so as not to lose any time, it only took a couple of minutes to fix and I probably lost 5 places by the end, I got back on and set about chasing down some of those that had passed me, I had passed a couple and had caught a British Army rider so I decided to sit in and recover before passing him as I could see Sarah not too far ahead of me, however I switched off a little bit too much and decided to have a lay down in some soft sand, fortunately no injuries bar some bruising to my hip and thigh and somehow I had missed any of the Lava Rock. Again this stage was different to previous years so no comparison could be made to previous years but I was happy with my performance and position and Sarah was still in second place in her category.
Stage three is the individual Time Trial, you start on the Beach in Famara and finish on the top of the cliff above. My start time was much later than everyone else so they all got the bus down in the morning and I decided to ride down later as this would act as a good warm up prior to the stage. Again I was still feeling strong and this was the one stage where I could have a direct comparison to previous years, last year I had completed the 22km in 1:38 so I set my self a target time of 1:30. I set off and was feeling strong again, I pushed hard all the way except on the descents, the cross winds were that bad I was being blown of the track and had to slow down and lost some time on these sections. The final climb was tough, with a strong headwind and it was cold, I actually felt very cold in the last 1/3 of the climb, but I pushed on and worked at my limit with an average heart rate of 181bpm and a max of 192bpm. I was over the moon when I crossed the line at 1:22, 8 minutes quicker than my target time and 16 minutes quicker than last year.
Stage four is the big one, 84.5km and the route was very similar to last year all be it 2km shorter. I rode with Sarah again which was really good, we jumped between groups in the headwinds, me working on the front as I know I could recover on the descents. My Santa Cruz Tallboy is the perfect bike for Stage racing, I nice position and I have fitted it with a dropper post which was great for the descents. Part way through the stage there is a 10km climb and leading in to it is a drag on a fire track in to a headwind, I knew what was coming but still pushed hard along here, gaining a few places and catching some riders that were up ahead, I knew Sarah would be stronger than me on the climb but I also knew I could catch her on the descent the other side so off she went into the distance and I plugged away, I was suffering with some lower back pain which didn’t help and the winds were still strong as we climbed, but even with all of this I felt stronger than I had before so pushed on. As I thought I caught Sarah on the Technical descent and waited for her at the bottom which gave me a chance to stretch which really helped and maybe something I should have taken time for earlier… We carried on the stage together and continued to gain places.
The last 15km or so were in to a strong headwind so head down and keep pushing, Sarah did say after that she moved to take a turn on the front, pulled out from behind, felt the head win and tucked back in, it was tough and I have never been able to work that hard for that long, as we pushed closer to the finish I spotted two riders ahead and was pretty sure one of them was the lady that was leading the category Sarah was in so I pushed harder, making sure Sarah was still with me but hadn’t told her that I thought her main competition was up ahead, we caught with about 3km to go and passed her and her friend very quickly but she had jumped on the back, the last few Km’s were tight and twisty so I was pushing but trying not to push too hard but also making sure that I hadn’t lost Sarah and was towing the other lady instead, I knew it would be a sprint finish for them so as we came in to Club La Santa I pulled over to the side and let them pass, Sarah took the sprint and the stage and finished second overall. My time for this year was amazing, last year was over 6 hours, this year was 5:12, so a huge improvement for me, would I have pushed so hard if I had been on my own I’m not sure, having someone else to ride for and ride with really pushed me on, now to convince Sarah we need to pair up for a big stage race like the Bike Transalp.
I am very happy with my results this year and have seen huge improvements thanks to my amazing coach Sally Bigham, my next big event is Transpyr in June which I will be doing solo, 800km, 18200m’s climbing in seven days.