Using trail centres for the first time

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Using trail centres for the first time

Postby essexminicity » 3 Aug 2011, 7:11pm

I'm in my mid-30s and have been riding since I was young. I'm on my second mountain bike - a Ridgeback hardtail from the late 90s, and I mainly ride on-road, although I try to find routes that allow me to explore my local bridleways too. Some have been good finds, whilst many have been overgrown bramble-covered farm tracks which are no fun at all.

I picked up the last two editions of Mountain Bike Rider magazine for inspiration (and lunchtime escapism) and in their trail centres guide I was surprised that there were actually quite a few in the South/South-East. My only concern, as someone who has never been to these places is how will I be welcomed as a complete beginner? Everyone's got to start somewhere and they do look like a lot fun.

Has anyone else recently tried this for the first time? How did you find the experience?

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Re: Using trail centres for the first time

Postby porky » 4 Aug 2011, 12:37pm

Go on, try it. You might enjoy it. You might get seriously addicted and keep pounding round your favourite loop trying to do it better or faster.

I am relativley new to this sort of thing, and I am a bit sow and nervous when it comes to some of the more exciting bits of the trail. Take it at your own pace, don't be afraid to get of and walk round an obstacle if there is anything you are uncomfortable with. Keep an ear open for anyone speeding up behind you, don't dive into the nearest bush, but at the first convenient and safe place let them past. Before too long people will be stopping to let you past and that is an ego boost.

I have found other trail users at my local trail centre (Cannock Chase) to be friendly, tolerant and cheerful. Most will hapily talk about their experiences and will offer advice when asked. I have never been made to feel uncomfortable, even when I have done something stupid (like falling into the trail and sending the following rider into the trees). Everyone is having a good time and wants other people to have a good time too.
My car does 40 miles on a gallon of petrol, my bike will do that on a mug of tea and a slice of cake.

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Re: Using trail centres for the first time

Postby HebdenBiker » 10 Oct 2011, 9:54pm

+1 to all the above.

Plus - the trail will be long enough that, even on busy days, you'll find yourself riding on your own a lot of the time, so you won't have to worry about what others do or say. Also, you may be surprised at your own abilities. Those bridleway miles will have made you fitter than many. Your technical skills will come with practice.

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Re: Using trail centres for the first time

Postby graymee » 27 Nov 2011, 6:17pm

I went to Sherwood Pines with two mates last Friday. I think it's what you'd call a Trail Centre. We did the Kitchener Trail which is labelled as difficult. It's the best fun I've had on a work day in years! I did come off once but didn't hurt myself other than the odd scratch. I'd recommend it.

P.S. I'm no spring chicken (50) but I want to go back now!
I'm not old and cynical, I'm realistic!

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Re: Using trail centres for the first time

Postby Tango » 7 Jul 2012, 7:44am

I have been mountain biking for around 8 years and was a bit nervous when I first started, I assumed that I would be unfit, slow and technically useless.

Whilst in my cases this was true :D everyone I met was delighted to welcome a new face to their beloved sport and gave lots of encouragement

Trail centres are great as you are all travelling in the same direction and you just follow the arrows

One small piece of advice. Ride within your comfort zone, if you come across a section you are not happy to ride, then get off and walk, there is no shame in that
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Re: Using trail centres for the first time

Postby andymiller » 22 Nov 2012, 7:53pm

Tango wrote:One small piece of advice. Ride within your comfort zone, if you come across a section you are not happy to ride, then get off and walk, there is no shame in that

Good advice (although keep to the side of the trail if you do). the trails should be graded so you can start with the easier ones. Also if it has jumps you'll generally find there are well-worn grooves around them.

It might also be worth asking the centre whether it runs skills courses or or offers some sort of taster/introduction.
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Milfred Cubicle
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Re: Using trail centres for the first time

Postby Milfred Cubicle » 24 Nov 2012, 8:55pm

Go for it. The good thing about trail centres is there are few nasty surprises. Up to red grade, all trail feature have to be rideable, so no sudden drops.
I don't wish to insult your intelligence, but I would always wear a helmet. I'm a regular trail centre user, and this is the only thing that bothers me about 'beginners'. Some will pay silly money for trainers that are getting ruined, but won't shell out £20 for a helmet. I think most genuine riders get a buzz from seeing newer riders on the bike, and would hate to see a good day end in A&E.
You might get a few flashy show-offs trying to impress, but they usually end up in a heap. Try not to smirk as you pass them....-

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Re: Using trail centres for the first time

Postby bloghog » 29 Nov 2012, 12:44pm

You will be fine, trail centres have riders of very mixed ability from quick to novice, they seem to sort themselves out some how. Try and avoid busy times like weekends and bank holidays, just take your time and enjoy yourself.

My first trail centre was Bedgbury which is in the South East, nice and easy one to start with.