Gareth Sheppard

Top Tips for your Weekend Away in the Forest of Dean

Redbull recently highlighted the Forest of Dean as one of the best places in the UK to spend a ‘dirty’ weekend, and it’s not hard to see why!

The FOD, as it’s known locally, is a bit of a mecca for off road cycling.

Starting with the Family Cycle Trail, a 10 mile circular route that starts and finishes here at Pedalabikeaway, it’s perfect for all levels! The gradients are gentle, and it’s a very scenic amble around some historic parts of the forest.

The Family Cycle Trail in the Forest of Dean

If you don’t fancy the whole loop or have young children cycling, you can do the shorter length Hicksters loop, which is under half the distance and fully way-marked too.

To extend it, then why not take the short diversion down to the beautiful Mallards Pike Lake?  It’s the perfect place for a picnic, and there is even an amazing cafe on site as well! The below shot was from the mini freeze we had this time last winter!

You also have the option of accessing the Family Cycle Trail via the Lydbrook,  Coleford and Parkend links so you can ride to and from your accommodation!

Talking of accommodation, there is a massive amount of choice in the Forest for your stay.  The Wye Dean tourism site is a great place to start, but a personal favourite is the Fountain Inn run by Alan, who helps dig and maintain the trails here in the FOD, while Broadstone Farm is a fantastic little campsite with great homemade cider and superb access to the Forest!

Group enjoying the Verderers Trail

If you are a little more adventurous, then the mountain biking on offer is almost limitless.   All the way-marked trails start and finish here from the centre, including the blue-graded Verderers trail, the red-graded Freeminers trail and several downhill tracks. There is also a pump track and advanced skills area with jumps and drops, and a huge amount of off-piste tracks to explore!

Little Fodders mountain bike club in the forest of dean

You can get an idea of what some of them are like, by checking out our You tube site

To maximise your riding time, you could hire an e-bike (check out our previous blog on the Whyte Bikes E-150 ) or book on to one of Wye MTB’s uplift assisted trips to explore the beautiful Wye Valley. They also offer trips further afield into the beautiful Welsh Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons, which are less than 45 minutes away.

You’ll have loads to do for the little ones as well. There is a Go-Ape Mini’s site just a 10 minute walk from the centre, Puzzlewood – the enchanted forest (where some of Star Wars was filmed), Canoeing on the River Wye, Clearwell Caves or why not try Battlesports?

Fun for all the family

When you are all done, then don’t forget to call back into the cafe! We pride ourselves on serving the best coffee and cake in the forest. Perfect for that caffeine hit to keep you awake on the drive home!

 

Entering your first race

The Forest of Dean has always been a hotbed for grass route racing, but over the last 4 years it has become even more accessible!

Racing is a great way of bringing out your competitive streak, pushing your riding skills, and meeting new like-minded individuals.

Every winter the Mini Downhill runs 3 to 4 races with categories from Little Rippers (10-12) all the way through to Grand Veterans (50+).

All the races are on 2 Dot downhill trails, meaning that they aren’t out of the reach of regular Mountain Bike riders.

In the summer MIJ Racing run a similar series run from the cycle centre, so you can race at the centre all year round!

The Little Fodders kids club run a race for children from the age of 5+ every 6 weeks and is perfect for children looking to do their first proper mountain bike race – with raceboards, practice runs and electronic timing.

These races are a great stepping stone to the bigger events around the country, and have both an easier and more advanced course, so the kids can progress as their skills develop!

Additionally, Little Fodders offer weekly coaching sessions for the kids with over 50 kids attending every week, but these have been so popular there is a waiting list!

Bit nervous about entering a race as you don’t know what to expect? Wye MTB run Ladies Progressive Downhill coaching sessions to help give women the skills and confidence to tackle their first Downhill Race.

The 3 sessions aim to tackle a different downhill track each week focusing on sessioning different technical sections, aiming to give you both the technical and mental skills to improve your riding.

So no more excuses! Give yourself a great goal, book yourself into a race and maybe some coaching to help build your confidence and skills before your first race!

New Whyte E150 RS E bike

We have recently received the brand new Whyte S150 RS E bikes for our demo fleet here at Pedalabikeaway, but how do they ride?

To sum it up, this is the best e-bike we have ever ridden, including it’s longer travel brother, the E-180. I can’t claim to have ridden every ebike out there on the market, but have ridden a fair few of the models from the main manufacturers……

The give away to the travel is in the name. The E 150 has 150mm of travel front and rear, running on the Rockshox Deluxe + RT rear and Lyrik Select + fork on this RS model.

We rode it on a mixture of some steep techy off piste tracks and some of the downhill trails, and the 150 was more than enough to cope with everything we threw at it with aplomb.

There was a harmonious balance to the suspension, and the low bottom bracket height, combined with the extra weight and low centre of gravity of the e-bike means this thing corners as if it is on rails!

It runs on the new generation 4 Bosch motor, which is a massive improvement on the previous generation. It is so much quieter, and the application of power is so much smoother! It is not quite as quiet at the Brose system found on the Specialized, but quieter than the Shimano.

Whyte E bike

It still produces loads of torque though, and the new Bosch system runs on a standard crank and chainring. Most importantly it has none of the drag associated with the previous system when you get past the assist levels (15.5mph). This makes it so much more fun to ride!

It also has the new 625 battery, which adds to the range. To give you an idea, this 90kg rider covered 25.4 miles and nearly 1700m of climbing and still had 2 bars left on the battery. I mainly rode it in the super impressive E-MTB mode, which provided more than enough assistance for the climbs.

The motor has 4 modes from Eco, Tour, E-bike and finally flat out Turbo!

Spec wise, Whyte have done a brilliant job. We have already mentioned the shocks, but they have have obviously sweated over the detail, with simple things like a Maxxis DD rear tyre, and a EXO + front tyre. It also comes with a XO rear mech and 12 speed Sram groupset, including the all important Sram code 4 pot brakes with 200mm rotors. You can find the full spec details here; https://whyte.bike/collections/emtb/products/e-150-rs

To say I was impressed was an understatement. Initially we had just ordered a medium and large for the demo fleet, but now have a full size range instead and popped one on order for myself! Nuff said!

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