Over the past year or so I’ve been learning the art of riding in various ways around Epsom in Surrey, trying out things like XC muni on fireroads, tight twisty turny singletrack near Leith Hill and Schlumpf’ing speedily along a cycle track next to the A24.
Alas due to varying reasons involving luck and money, I’ve had to leave it all behind. I’m now living in Midhurst in West Sussex. Being a country place there’s a lot less chavs around here, but I’m a bit clueless on where exactly to ride.
I’m up for various things, from tarmac cycle path riding to fireroads to singletrack trails, but I’m still very nervous about riding on the road itself, and steep hills still finish me off.
Does anyone know of anywhere good around here to explore? A book recommends Alice Holt park near Farnham and the Queen Elizabeth park near Petersfield.
Get yourself up on the south downs way, mile after mile of nice lime track, I’ve ridden it on a KH 24 but it’s probably cokerable/schlumpfable, and only has a few serious hills, you can probably ride a section between two steep hills to avoid them. Great views from the top of the ridge. One day I’ll get round to riding the whole thing.
The South Downs Way section near you has some fantastic 29er descents, the one into Cocking is probably the nearest really super bit. The ride from Cocking to Eastbourne is a fantastic if rather long day ride (like 50 miles of rather long), but most sections are fun. Much of it is wide open, although some of it is a little bit rocky and quite steep.
Also, off the South Downs Way, which tends to follow the ridge, there are lots of bridleways and ‘special bridleways’(aka footpaths), which head N or S off the ridge. You kind of need to get the OS map and explore these, as they’ll not generally be recommended in books as many good loops involve a bit of riding of dubious legality, just be polite if you meet anyone and don’t ride like a mentalist and it’s generally cool. Buy a light, it’s a good place to be as far as night riding goes, and you get awesome views from the top of the ridge in some parts.
Looking at the OS map, looks like there are tons of bridleways from right near Midhurst, you don’t even need to drive to go riding. Only hassle in winter is that Sussex is horsey, so it’s likely some of them will be trashed by horses, just learn where these are and ride the other ones in winter.
QE park I’ve only been to once, I think is okay, might ming a bit in winter sometimes. There is I believe a legal singletrack route, plus some more interesting other stuff. It’s quite small.
I’m in Southampton the majority of the year, and would really like to get out and ride some of the stuff near here including the South Downs and QEP. Let me know when you’re all settled in and we can meet up for some off-road or schlumpf riding.
Toni rode around the Alice Holt cycle route last March, on her 20" with a freestyle tyre, with minimal problems. She had to walk a short bit which was very muddy downhill (my 29er was sliding) and virtually the only dismounts were caused by uncontrolled dogs.
“Don’t worry it won’t hurt you” was said on too many occasions. I wanted to reply “yes me landing on your small dog might hurt it…” as I dismounted yet again.
GK as everyone else has said go to the South Downs, I can’t believe there isn’t fantastic riding in that area. Just find your local bridleways.