Want a life less ordinary but pushed for time? Worry not! We’ve got a selection of mini-adventures that are easy to squeeze into the schedule of the most time-poor mountain biker. Most are easy to do in a weekend, and some you can fit into an evening.
From the easily accessible to those that need a little more planning, and from the truly intrepid to the slightly silly, there's a mountain bike mini adventure just waiting to be conquered.
Bring a Friend for a Ride
The chances are if you read Total Women’s Cycling, you already love cycling like we do. But what about those friends you have that don’t cycle? They’ve probably asked you ‘what is this mountain biking thing you do’ about a thousand times anyway, so why not show them!
Most trail centres will have a rental shop where they can get kitted out, and a skills loop near the car park so you can give them a taste of what to expect before heading out. Start with a green, take your time and just enjoy the ride. You never know, by the end of the day they may have the MTB bug, which means another cycling mate for you to ride with. Win!
Join a Club Ride or Social Event
Although the lone cyclist eating up the miles is a romantic notion, in truth cycling is a wonderfully social activity. Why else the preoccupation with tea, coffee and cake?
Joining your local cycling club or getting involved with a social cycling event is a great way of meeting new people to ride with, and making friends. Clubs and groups are also great ways of finding out about events and offers, they’ll often offer support if you want to participate in a race, and the chances are they’ll be up for a cycling holiday or two.
And of course, if you’re looking for a special someone, you know you’ve already got something brilliant in common. That’s gotta help, right?
If you’ve only ridden at trail centres, then you’re denying yourself the adventure of riding exciting natural trails. It feels completely different, and has to be experienced!
Don’t get us wrong, we love trail centres and they’re perfectly designed to flow, giving you year-round consistent fun. But if you want something to test your skills, something that’s a little more unpredictable but more fun than a roller coaster, then natural is where it’s at.
There’s nothing like finding the skills you’ve perfected at a trail centre mean you can ride free and wild out in the woods or mountains. It opens up so much more for you to ride in, and you’ll find yourself spotting trails everywhere once you’ve got your eye in.
Mini Touring Adventure
If the idea of travelling from town to town across countries sounds great, but you’ve never tried touring and don’t have loads of time to spare, why not have a mini-touring adventure?
Pick a spot you’d like to reach, give yourself a couple of days to get there, recruit a few friends and just set off!
For two or three days of cycling you don’t need to carry too much stuff, so you won’t be weighed down with kit and clothing. Book into bike-friendly hotels and hostels and it’s even simpler.
If you’re feeling enthusiastic you could also cycle back, but we reckon to opt to cycle further out and then get the train home. You’ll be able to sit in and reminisce with your companions about the adventure you just had – and plan the next one!
DIY Skills Party
Let’s face it; we could probably all do with working on some of our bike skills a little. Getting the hang of manuals, bunny hops and wheelies are skills that stand you in good stead on the trail.
But if you’re anything like us when it comes to practising, with limited time for riding we keep getting lured into long fun rides rather than car-park practice sessions.
So here’s a fun solution. Get a group of friends together, find a good spot like a field or very quiet car park, and have your own skills party. Set up some obstacles to practice on, take turns, watch each other and offer feedback, and before you know it you’ll have them dialled.
Here are some suggestions of what you can try.
- Set up a branch or log and practice lifting first your front wheel over it as you go past, then your back wheel, then combine this and do a front wheel lift then a back wheel lift.
- Layout a zig-zag line of cones (or rocks, or jumpers) and practice riding in and out of them in tight circles.
- If there’s a kerb, practice dropping off it and then rolling back up onto it.
- Got some steps in your practice area? These are great for getting the hang of rocky descents. Keep your arms and knees flexed, your chin up and your weight back, and roll into, on and out of them at a steady slow speed.
We recommend adding some music and snacks because the atmosphere is all important.
Midsummer Bike Bivvying
June 21st is the shortest night of the year, the summer solstice, and what better way to mark it but sleeping out under the stars.
Grab your bike, pack a small rucksack with a sleeping bag, bivvy bag, supplies and stove, and head up into the middle of nowhere for the night. You’ll be in prime position to watch the stars come out, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and enjoy the natural night noises around you.
There’re only a few hours of darkness, so you might want to stay up all the way through and welcome the dawn before brewing up a cuppa. And of course, you’ll get a nice long day of riding in – though you might need a nap later.
Get your fix of fresh air and wild swimming with a DIY wild duathlon (but with no racing in sight).
If you love being out in the great outdoors, then this is a great way to get a full sensory experience. There are plenty of wild places like National Parks within a few hours of most of the UK, so why not make the most of them!
Pick a wild swimming spot, whether it’s mountain, heath or coastline, and make it your aim to get there by bike. If you’re not sure where you local wild swimming spots are, or if you want some inspiration, check out the Wild Swimming website to find top spots near you.
Go Somewhere Remote
The UK is a little island with a lot of people on it, and one of the draws of mountain biking is that it allows you to get away into the quiet wild places that are left. Take things one step further and really get away from everything by heading to some of the more remote places in the UK, some of which are happily visitable in a weekend.
Rannoch Moor in the Scottish Highlands is a vast plain of rocky moorland and bog, surrounded by imposing mountains and vast skies. The Caledonian Sleeper train will take you right to it direct from London, so you can go to sleep in the smoke and wake up to fresh mountain air.
Or how about Black Sail Youth Hostel? Accessible only by foot or bike, its location in the Lake District makes it a perfect location for a weekend of wilderness adventure and exploring by bike.
After summer, when the seawater has been warmed by the sun, the days are still long and balmy, and the holiday hordes have headed home so you’ll have the coast all to yourself!
Being an island, there’s a whole lot of coast to enjoy, so pick a point that’s near to you, and aim to get there by pedal power and off-road. Then enjoy a refreshing dip, the perfect way to cool down after a ride.
The evenings are starting to draw in at this time of year, and it’s time to get those night lights out. Night riding is an exhilarating experience at any time, as your sense of speed changes, you react to the terrain differently and of course, the shadows and strange noises heighten your senses. In fact, it can be just a little bit spooky.
So why not combine a night ride with your Halloween celebrations. Get a group together, dress up and hit the trails. Apart from anything else, the look on the faces of other mountain bikers as a group of ghouls goes riding by will be priceless!
Mix it up
By now, you’re probably completely all MTB’d out, right? Nah, we didn’t think so! But you can shake things up a bit by switching disciplines for a mini-adventure. Why not try BMX or track cycling, for instance?
It’s not just for laughs either – each of the cycling disciplines can give you skills and fitness that will improve your mountain biking too.
BMX is great for bike handling skills and learning to pump terrain to generate speed. Track cycling is brilliant for explosive power (and channelling your inner Olympian) and of course, the miles you can cover on a road bike are amazing, plus it’s brilliant for general bike fitness.
Most venues like velodromes and BMX parks will have taster sessions where you can rent all the equipment you need, so there’s no excuse not to. Plus take some friends and you’re guaranteed a fun day out!
So what are you waiting for? Get a friend, make some plans and have a bunch of mini-adventures to keep your riding fresh and enjoyable!
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