When my friends Celeste and Marius planted a seed in my head about potentially going to try out mountain biking in Swinley Forest, I was getting all sorts of excited. I have never been on a proper mtb bike and wanted to see what the fuss is all about, so this seemed like an awesome opportunity.
We were super lucky to have Marius and Nick, who work at Soho Bikes, to loan us some super nice full suspension demo bikes, which are worth a lot of money. Our main weapons of choice were Santa Cruz and Trek bikes, more than enough for a beginner like me! It was fun rolling to Waterloo station on them through half empty London streets, where we caught a train to Swinley.
Soon after arriving, we went straight for the trails going through mostly blue routes (moderate difficulty), which were flowing and a nice start for us, who were new to mountain biking. A couple of uphill parts and we were sweating going up as the weather was really mild on Saturday. We ditched a couple of layers and then went on to meet some of Marius’ friends, who were a lot more experienced in this discipline. The group got much bigger and we decided to go on a red route, which is meant to be suited for expert shredders. Me, Celeste and Tara just looked at each other with fear and uncertainty in our eyes, but decided to give it a go. The first part of the trail was extremely narrow, deep and steep, which was not ideal for someone doing it for the first time. Me and Tara ended up going way too slow almost getting stuck one behind the other oops. The lower part was a lot more fun, with a couple of jump opportunities and a nice stop at the bottom of it.
It was the perfect time to chill for a bit, have a few snacks, sandwiches and filter coffee, which Celeste (The Girl In The Cafe) had brought along with her, meaning we were spoilt for choice. After this, we went to try out a couple of other trails, one was called a ‘labyrinth’ – super windy with lots of turns, but super fun. I even managed a small drop at the end of it, which I wasn’t expecting, so that was rad! The last interesting trail we went on was a ‘superman’ (at least that was what the other mountain bikers called it) – fast and fairly straight downhill with a few jumps. All of us wanted to repeat this a few times.
After a good few hours, all of us were feeling pretty beat and decided to go to the pub for a few drinks and pizza (or carrots, pitta and hummus for me) before catching the train back to Waterloo. It was a really fun first mtb experience and for anyone thinking about it, I would highly recommend to give it a go. If your off road bike handling skills aren’t quite there, you could just stick to less technical blue trails and still have heaps of fun. Don’t have your own bike and just want to try it? You can easily book a bike through Soho Bikes or Swinley Bike Hub.
Can’t wait for the next one! More pics below.