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Off-road cycling Swinley Forest

Posted: 30 Apr 2012, 10:12am
by AlanD
Hi all. I gave my best man the task of coming up with a plan for a men's day out/bachelor party. What he has come up with sounds pretty good and starts with hiring bikes and going cycling in Swinley Forest next month. I have been riding on tracks before, but only very minor stuff, I'm really a road cyclist. My one and only try on the MTB track at the Cycle Show two years ago, resulted in me falling off the track on the first bend and hurting my wrist. :(

Google has come up with some information, it seems to be an off-road mecca and it led me to a couple of cycling sites, but I don't get a very good impression of what it's really like. So has anyone any experience of riding there?
I suppose what I first need to know is, what are the hire bikes like? I presume that they are mountain bikes? Do they have SDP's?
Secondly, what do I wear? I have seen some pictures on the site showing people wearing this full body-armour kit, also 'urban' and lycra. So is it best that I go for my lycra cycling wear, or cargo trousers and scruffy shirt? I expect to get dirty or muddy. Also trainers of cycle shoes with SDP cleats? Cycle helmet and stout gloves is a 'must wear' thought.
I don't know how big our party will be, but we are a pretty 'mixed bag' of adults and I doubt that there will be any other regular cyclists in the party.
Then what is the terrain like? I gather cycling is only permitted on tracks. I have never done anything like this before and MrsD2B was up in arms at first, fearing that I would be hobbling up the aisle in plaster cast and crutches :shock: :x
So can anyone please give any pointers to an MTB virgin? Or just turn up and have a laugh at me?

Re: Off-road cycling Swinley Forest

Posted: 30 Apr 2012, 1:37pm
by thelawnet
I've cycled there, the tracks range from wide, clear paths to narrow ones with roots and rocks. TBH I didn't have a proper bike or kit, so can't really comment on the 'thrills' involved, I certainly didn't 'go for it'.

I would seriously consider a 'guided ride', £18 each, it's not always obvious which way to go. I think going there with a large group and no experience or knowledge of the tracks is a recipe for disappointment. I don't think they are likely to hire out anything terribly sophisticated/expensive, and I feel SPDs are unlikely,

You could perhaps combine it with a trip to Go Ape, which is on the same site:

Re: Off-road cycling Swinley Forest

Posted: 30 Apr 2012, 5:47pm
by al_yrpal
Its flat, off road, but quite contrived, lots of forestry wide fire break tracks to cycle on. Plus some tracks the local mtbers have constructed that wiggle around through the ferns. I never go there because its quite unatural and fairly boring. It's pretty tame but just right for a group of newbies to have a laugh. Unfortunately there's no pub!

For some excellent rides (with pubs) is great, with 18 cracking rides and free gpx files. They do one in and around the Chilterns for a tenner.


Re: Off-road cycling Swinley Forest

Posted: 2 May 2012, 10:01pm
by Kevin Mayne
I live about 5 miles away and I ride there regularly.

Swinley is regarded as one of the top MTB sites in the South East. I take groups there of all abilities from children to trail centre regulars. But - and its a big but - get yourself a local guide if you haven't done so already, it is a complete maze and you just won't find something suitable for your group without one. I know there are trails out there I still can't find. You also need to be led away from the walkers' and dog walking area - too congested. A good guide will improve all of your riding and will also find something that feels challenging without too much harm.

Bike hire operator also runs a decent local bike shop in Sunningdale, the hire bikes have been fine. Flat pedals, your mates can ride in trainers. Don't fuss about gear, there are all sorts there, probably around the baggie MTB look through to just street clothes rather than roadie lycra. Wear what you are comfortable with.

If you want a stag bonus take a double booking and book onto the Go Ape ropewalk as well, you need to book in advance.

Re: Off-road cycling Swinley Forest

Posted: 4 May 2012, 9:42am
by AndyGuerin
Blatant plug here sorry – however are CTC qualified MTB Skills Instructors and Guides, based at Swinley.

We used to trade under a third party however, for 2012 we are now a separate business.

We also have a small fleet of bikes available for use when on a course with us.

Give us a call,

PurpleBikeShed / MountainBikeTuition