I’d say whatever time will bring in the most riders, but hopefully not much later than 10. Since I’m flying over from the states today, I’ll be in jet lag anyway. So really any time after 3am or so, which is probably when I’ll be jolting awake on Sunday.
UK/Reading area: Swinley Forest Ride this Sunday
OK time to make some decisions
We will meet at The Lookout car park and ride around Swinley Forest. It is on the corner of A322 & B3430, opposite Coral Reef swimming pool.
Directions and information is available at:
Parking is free but we need to pay £1.50 each for a day permit which covers liability insurance, trail upgrades etc.
We will try to start riding at 0930, Tom I will pick you up in Reading at about 0900.
I will be wearing a helmet & wrist guards, as a minimum.
Most likely we will ride towards the Upper Star Post and divert onto any interesting looking single track rather than going to the expert area. This means we should also be able to get to the Fenceline Joe mentioned. There is a map on the website and next to the car park.
I should have my mobile on (although coverage is intermittent) if anyone is late.
See you Sunday
Keith (07879 620190)
Edit: There is a Cafe we can visit at the end of the ride, Ape if you need to leave early I should have a copy of the map to give you.
Yay! See you all on Sunday then. Cheers Keg for sorting it out, and for getting up early! I could pick Tom up from Reading if you want a bit more of a lie-in?
The weather forecast for Sunday is ‘light rain’, so Tom you should get a proper English riding experience:D
If you could pick up Tom that would be very helpful, I can then drop him off afterwards when it’s your turn to rush off for a meal!
I have PM’d you the hotel details. Please confirm you’ve got them.
This will be fun. Thanks in advance to whoever agreed to supply the spare uni. A 29-er, was it?
I can’t say enough good things about today’s ride, or the graciousness of my UK hosts, or the benefits of using unicyclist.com to arrange uni rides when traveling internationally. This is my second great experience doing so, and I plan to continue the practice on future trips.
With little more than a week’s notice creating this thread, I had the great pleasure to meet and ride today with Liam (domesticated ape), Gavin (gkmac), Mike (mikepenton), and Keith (keg). I was treated to a fine couple hours of XC and muni in Swinley Forest, a large expanse of interconnected fireroad and singletrack not far north of London. It is a fine forest, not too dense, and very reminiscent of Highland Forest in my native upstate New York. A nice mix of twisty singletrack with some good ups and downs to get the heart pounding, and very few exposed tree roots, the bane of my riding existance in the Seattle area.
Also through the generosity of my hosts, all I had to do was show up in country with a helmet and some pads. I had my choice of a 26" Pashley muni and a UDC 29" XC machine, neither of which I’ve ever ridden. I got to sample both before the day was out, and now I officially have “I need to get me a 29-er” fever. What a blast that thing was on the fireroads and downhills!
My thanks again to Liam, Gavin, Mike, and Keith…it was great to ride with all of you! Thanks for sharing your home turf with me, and extra big thanks to you Liam for picking me up in the morning even though it was completely out of the way for you in a town you weren’t familiar with, and you Keith for hauling my butt back to my hotel after the ride, even though road closures and traffic “diversions” added an hour to your day that you couldn’t afford. Hope the family wasn’t TOO annoyed!
International riding is the best!
If today was your first experience on that kind of single-track terrain, then I’m even more impressed. That was some challenging terrain…very uneven, with lots of switches between dry and grippy soil, sloggy sand, and slick, muddy puddles. And you didn’t hold up the group at all. In fact, talking to my wife tonight, I commented on how much actual pedaling we did. Our Seattle Area Riders muni rides are punctuated by frequent stops to breath, gab, preen, and perform endless variations of “let’s see who can ride over that pile of logs first without hurting themselves”. Fun, but we don’t cover a lot of distance. There were no gratuitous stops today…we covered a lot of distance. My quads are killing me.
As for the upcoming muni weekend, I’d recommend just practice when you can between now and then, and don’t sweat it either way. The nice thing about muni weekends is what you can’t ride you can hike, and know that there will be other riders hiking with you. My first Moab muni weekend I had just started riding off-road, and the Slickrock Trail completely kicked my butt. I walked most of it, but improved my skills from the sections I was able to ride. It still kicks my butt, but I’m able to ride more and more of it each year. You’ll do fine and have fun at Dartmoor this year, and then be amazed at how much more of it you can ride when you do it next year. Just keep pedaling and have fun!
I’ve been playing with one of the newer Garmin Edge GPSes; I am very impressed with the reception quality. I have not yet seen lose signal and I’ve taken it into very dense forests and deep valleys. I don’t think it would have any problem at all in Swinley forest, what with the place being flat and all…
GPS at Swinley is only useful if you have a time deadline and want to maximise the riding time. Otherwise it is easy to get back, just join the fireroad and ride them until you reach a numbered junction, look at the map, and realise the exit was back the route you just came the other alternative is listen for the A322, or some days, the direction of planes in to LHR.
I think our riding time was 2.5 hours, yet we only saw 2 signs back to the car park, and passed none of the numbered junctions which is unusual. On the positive side we found that lovely single track trail, I wonder if we’d find it another time?
Tom this this style of riding is quite popular in the UK where we cover reasonable distances of XC Muni, normally at the British Muni Weekend there are two or more groups. The older riders normally covering high mileage whilst the younger riders stop and hop etc.
Phil, it isn’t that flat, there just aren’t any longer killer hills. We got lots of positive comments from the bikers including the group who asked if we were training for SSMM and wished up well, they are also entered.
Tom, no problem dropping you back to Reading. It was great for us all to meet up and you were the perfect excuse for organising the ride. I didn’t get into too much trouble for being late back and that was resolved by taking the family to the pub for dinner
Yeah, I think going on a proper ride round Swinley would be a bit of a shock to a lot of people from big hill places, because if you’re riding fast, you’re constantly hitting bits of uphill, and thanks to it being 90% rideable, there’s not much resting.
Gkmac - the fantastic thing about Swinley, is that whereever you are, you’re not more than about 2 miles away from a road. A real good tip for forest muni, is to buy a small compass, and leave it in the pocket of whatever camelbak or backpack you use for muni riding. Any time you get lost, pick which side of the forest you want to end up at, and then take trails closest to the compass bearing for that side of the forest until you hit a road. In Swinley I’ve always headed North, because then you either hit the A322, or the bit of the b-road that you’ll recognise from coming off the A322 on the way, or the other bit of b-road, so you know which way to turn when you hit the edge of the forest. I’ve got pretty lost in Swinley at various points, particularly on night rides and used this to get me out just fine.
If you need to be high-tech though, GPS does work there, I’m sure I’ve seen some tracks people have done of it.
Did you find the really long singletrack loop? That’s was really good when I rode there last.
It was a very good ride, and it was great to meet some local and not-so-local riders! Cheers again to Tom for giving me an excuse to do something productive on a Sunday morning instead of just sleeping!
Swinley Forest is a great place to ride, the singletrack was very challenging and a lot of fun. We definitely found a long singletrack trail, but I’ve no idea which one it was. The trails were pretty tricky, mainly due to the frequent short but very steep uphill sections. I will definitely be riding there again, especially as it’s only a 30 minute drive from my house.
drop us a pm if you do, I’m sure I can make an excuse to come along!
I think finding it would go like this:
Leave the car park, go through the picnic area, go through a gate, follow the big track to a crossroads, turn right onto another big track, carry on up a hill and possibly past another crossroads, and the singletrack will be on the left.
Does that sound correct?
sounds about right… I think the turning was by a tree too
I’m officially reviving the dead. Who wants to ride Reading university?
Hey brendan, I’m just across in Thatcham but am still learning and generally riding my 26" Muni like a pussy. When I man-up and can ride more than 100m without having to take a Costa break I’ll be right over.
Does riding on campus infer ‘street’ stunts and general bad-assing…I may be closer to a complementary zimmer frame than my A Levels
Well ‘riding’ on campus could mean a lot of things… I was going to do mostly trials and general messing around on a unicycle But you’re more than welcome to join me, and jump/ride over anything you feel like.
I’d love to come muni’ing, but I sitll havent made the jump to buying one, where do you mostly ride around here?
Costa break every 100m sounds dangerous though, maybe time to go decaf!
I’m just a couple of months into learning so still very much building on ability and stamina. I’ve been riding the pretty straight forward trails around Greenham Common and around the local park to work on lumps and bumps. It’s hard going off the tarmac and my legs are giving out pretty quickly. There are lots of woodland trails around here that I’d like to be working on.
Where are you riding in Reading? I may have to come for a lesson in trials…