Gareth Sheppard

Planning your visit to the Forest of Dean Cycle Centre during Covid pandemic

As lockdown measures ease, we all want to get back to exercising as near to ‘normal’ as possible, escape the local area and may be even get back to our ‘weekend warrior’ riding!

Here at Pedalabikeaway we are now back open every Thursday – Monday 9.30am – 4pm, but it’s not quite business as normal, so here are a few pointers to help plan your visit!

Social Distancing

There are now various one way systems in place and tape everywhere. Yes it can be a little confusing, but we have put out as much signage as possible to help you get to the right place! 

Our shop is now outside and next to where the toilets used to be. Bike hire is in it’s normal place with a one way system in and out (but you must pre book your bikes by midnight the night before via the website)

The takeaway cafe also has a one way system where you order at the main door, and collect at the far end of the building by the outside tables.

Unfortunately the tables are currently taped off, as we are not allowed to have customers consume food on our site, but there are still a few tables down towards the bridge that you can eat your food or use for a picnic.

We can’t maintain social distancing within our toilets, there is only one entrance for the whole block, so instead there are now 2 sets of 3 portaloos on site, one set by the main building, and another in the overflow car park.

Obviously please be a trail centre hero and stay 2 metres apart, especially if you have to wait and queue : ) 

Be Prepared 

ITC first aid qualification

No one goes cycling planning on having an accident, but even if you are be careful, they do still happen! 

There is no first aid provision on site at the moment, so there are 2 things you need to be able to do:

  • Know where you are at all times – if you need to raise help, they will need to know how to find you. Our postcode is GL16 7EH, but once you are in the forest, you’ll need to be able to give a 6 figure grid reference. There are loads of apps that will do this for you, so why not download one just in case.
  • Look after yourself or the injured party, until help arrives. This could be up to 3-4 hours, so it’s worth having a spare layer and an emergency first aid kit with you.

If you are more than 50 metres from where an ambulance can get to (a wide well surfaced fire road), then you will need to call 999 and ask for the Police. Give them your grid reference, and they will co-ordinate the response, using the Severn Area Rescue Service. (like mountain rescue) 

Likewise you might have a long walk if you don’t have all the tools you need to keep your bike running. It’s worth carrying as a minimum:

  • Spare inner tube
  • Multi tool with a chain tool on it 
  • Tyre levers 
  • Mini pump
  • Your mobile phone.

You will also need to make sure you have plenty water before you arrive on site. There aren’t any working outside taps, so fill that bladder or bottle before you travel (we can of course sell you bottled water – but that’s an expensive way to do it!) 

Most importantly, whether you are riding the Family Cycle Trail, Mountain bike trails or downhills, get out there and have fun, wear a helmet and enjoy the great outdoors! 

Getting your #MTB fix while on lockdown

It’s a first world problem, but not everyone happens to live on the doorstep of the Forest of Dean, and access to all its great trails.

Even if you are lucky enough too, like us, then the ‘Car, No Gnar, Not Far’ moto coined by Singletrack magazine should to be applied, so our rides are super chilled and well within our riding limits!

So how can you get your #MTB fix?

A great way is to use this time for some skills development – simple ‘back garden’ skills that can be done in a relatively small space. We have started to post a few on Pedalabikeaway tube so why not give it a follow and try them out?

Practicing a wheelie, manual or bunnyhop will allow you to come back to the trails as a more complete rider!

Don’t go mad though. We have seen plenty of people posting videos of jumping and some insane tricks. Have fun but don’t take any unnecessary risks : )

mtb skills coaching

(remember to practice social distancing – we didn’t have a manual machine picture : ) 

When you are all tired out from your ‘back garden skills’ then why not engage in some retail therapy! Most of your local shops will have developed an online offering out of necessarity over the last week or so, even if they didn’t have one before.

Please try and support them! They won’t be as cheap as your online cycle giants, but supporting your local shop will help ensure they are there when we are the other side of #Coronavirus and all able to get back fully open.

You can check out our fledgling online bike shop here and our ex-hire and demo bikes here

If everyone of our customers bought just one item over the next few weeks, it will help get us through these super tough times!

Use the time to go explore you local area.

Dust off a map and pour over it. We really like the Ordnance Survey website and use it loads for plotting routes with Wye MTB , it’s great for zooming in and spotting cool little bits that you’d never normally notice! Keep a lock out for those restricted byways, green lanes and bridleways. There are more than you think in most major cities!

We never thought we would say this, but give your gravel bike a dust off (if you have one) or use a hardtail. It may well be the best machine for mixing up some urban riding with some canal paths or local pieces of bridleway. You’ll sometimes be surprised and might find the odd spot of #localgold ! 

 

Plan your post #lockdown escape! 

Is there anything more satisfying that planning an awesome trip to celebrate when we get out of #lockdown? 

It may be safer to plan something UK based rather than abroad given we don’t know how this will pan out globally. 

We have been busy planning some great riding trips and events for September (we must be out of this by then, right?) and often you don’t need to go that far.  #FODfest will be back on the 19th Sepetmber, so keep that date in your diary. 

There will be loads of suppliers like Raw Sports, Crankbrothers, Troy Lee Designs, Burgtec, Whyte Bikes, Orange Bikes, a locally brewery, hog roast, races and DJ! 

Wye MTB are currently hard at work launching a new ‘best of wales’ 3 day trip, with a days riding in the Wye Valley  and Forest of Dean, a day in Mid Wales riding the amazing Dyfi off piste tracks, and finishing off with a morning raid up Snowdon…. How good does that sound? The first trip launches in September too!!!! Lucky that : ) 

More than anything, #staysafe all, and we can’t wait to welcome you back to the centre in hopefully the not to distant future!

Buying a 2nd hand bike.

Orange Bike Stage 6 2019 ex demo bike  is a great 2nd hand option
Orange 2019 Stage 6 Ex Demo bike is a great 2nd hand option.

Buying a second hand bike can often look like a very attractive option, but it can also be a bit of a minefield at times!

There is the obvious financial benefit – 2nd hand bikes are going to cost a lot less, meaning that you could get more bang for your buck.

You’re going to find that you will be able to get a much higher spec bike than you would if you bought new. Typically for a 12 month old bike, you will save around 30-35% off the orgininal cost price!

However, it is highly unlikley that you will get any kind of warranty, so there are a number of things to check before you buy;

 

Give the frame a close inspection – look for damage to the paint work or chips, particulary if it’s a carbon frame as this could spell trouble.

 

Service history – when were the suspension forks or rear shocks last serviced? If it’s not within the last 6 months you’ll need to factor in at least 200 notes for this. While you are there, make sure that the stanchions and shock shaft are mark free. Chips or scratches here usually mean they are a right off.

 

Drive chain – take a chain wear indicator with you. If the chain has stretched and worn too much , then it is likely that the cassette and chainring will need replacing too. Depending on the spec of the bike, this could easily be another 200 notes to replace!

 

Tyres and brake pads – is there plenty of life left in both? A good set of tyres will set you back £100 and brake pads roughly £15-20 a pair.

 

Wheels – are they spinning freely, with no side to side wobble and free of dings or dents? If a wheel has been trued, then it is likely that it won’t last that much longer before a new rim and rebuild is required. You are looking at anywhere from £40-80 for a new rim, plus rebuild costs, so this could easily be another £100.

 

Another option would be to look for an ex-demo or ex-hire bike from a local bikeshop. Any dealer worth their salt would have already done and checked all the above before putting them up for sale. Yes you might pay a few £’s more than from e-bay, but it’s worth it for the piece of mind.

Some may even have some form of warranty with them (many ex demo’s will have new owners warranty!), and you will get the back up and support that you would usually expect from a L.B.S, so if anything does go wrong then they will be able to help you get it sorted!

Why not check out our range of ex-hire or ex-demo bikes?

Intense Tracer 2019 Large

Orange Alpine Small

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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