After a couple of years of pootling about town on my hybrid and the odd bit of road-biking, I, together with a couple of friends decided it was time to try something new. Wave goodbye to my comfort zone and take up mountain biking.
So, we took a day off work and headed over to Pinchinthorpe Woods with the Feel Good in Hartlepool [external link] team to join a ladies-only mountain biking group.
The course is run on behalf of Hartlepool Borough Council and led by the very friendly Adam and Mark from the active travel hub at Summerhill Country Park [external link].
What if you don’t have your own mountain bike?
Bikes and helmets were available to borrow, everyone on the course borrowed a bike – so don’t worry if you don’t have one of your own. We were a real mix of abilities too, from the uninitiated to fairly experienced road riders. So, after picking out my steed, we set off on our way.
Learning the tricks of the trade
There were a number of mountain biking skills and tasks we learnt to master:
- Riding uphill
- Riding downhill in the ready position [external link]
- Using gears correctly
- Lunch (very important)
(British Cycling has a great collection of ‘how to’ mountain biking videos, for more information on any of the above)
Most of the skills work was done on the wide, gravelly fire roads around the forest, whilst we were climbing up towards the proper mounting biking trails. There were lots of laughs and banter along the way, and the coaches filmed us as we attempted the tasks we were set (riding in the ready position, braking, etc) so we could see our progress for ourselves.
Adam and Mark were friendly and informative, and put us all at our ease as approached the trickier tasks as the day went on.
Thrill on the hill
Then came the single-track trails. Yes, they were a thrill! Getting over the first dip down onto the trail was more about confidence than anything else. After that it was foot by foot, metre by metre of exhilarating, adrenalin-fuelled ride through the forest, over tree roots, down steps, round corners, over rocks and back out on to the wider, easier fire roads again.
We made it, in one piece, some of us whooping on our way down, some of us shaking with the adrenalin, some saying let’s do it again, some saying never again… but we all did it and survived to tell the tale!
We all enjoyed the freedom of whizzing back down the tracks back to the car park, feeling the benefit of the skills we had gained throughout the day. There was definitely a sense of having achieved something and I think most of us will be getting back on the trails again soon. Bring on the summer!
Where to try mountain biking
There are lots of great places to get off the beaten track in the Tees Valley:
For more information about cycling routes across the Tees Valley, visit the cycling section of our website. To find out about your local active travel hub, try the In your area section.
To book on to a course like this contact Kay Stokes at Hartlepool Borough Council 01429 284 047 or contact us to put you in touch by email.
By Georgina at 24 Apr 2018, 11:58 AM