In the heart of Gloucestershire, the Forest of Dean plays host to some of the more beautiful and gnarly mountain bike trails in the UK.
The cycling season is officially here with sportives, races and charity rides happening each weekend, and more riders are getting involved.
Each year, hundreds of keen riders flock to the beautiful Forest of Dean for the Wild Boar Chase. This mass start cross-country MTB sportive takes riders through the undulating forest trails, and through local hotspots.
Only 10% of the 1000 registered riders were female riders, although I felt that I saw a lot more when I was riding.
This year myself and a few women from my South Wales women's MTB group, turned up to take down the boar.
The Wild Boar Chase
Driving down the country lanes on my way to the event, I was excited to see clear blue skies welcoming me into the Speech House field where the Wild Boar Chase was due to begin.
After registering, collecting my number board and tracking number, I got my kit together. It's essential to give your bike a once over before setting off on a ride. I checked that the set-up is ideal for the event ahead: Tyre pressure, suspension settings and cock-pit adjustments were made.
I headed into the main arena, and met up with the girls who were all excited and ready to ride.
The Wild Boar Chase had four routes to choose from with varying lengths:
- The Full Boar - 45 miles
- The Wye Boar - 40 miles
- The Forest Boar - 26 miles
- The Small Boar - 21 miles
Being the first sportive of the year, and admittedly not having much training in advance, the six of us decided to tackle the Small Boar route.
As it approached 10:00, the start time, one thousand riders headed to the gate.
The Small Boar Ride
With the Lycra bandits on hardtails adopting the attack position at the front, the baggy leisure riders and myself hung at the back of the mass start, in fear of getting elbowed and jarred out of the gate.
After the rules and regulations were announced to the crowd, the horns sounded and the riders pedalled off in a cloud of dust.
The girls and I set off together, amazed and just how many riders were charging down the lanes.
The various routes were well marked along the way with painted arrows, and marshals covered the crossings and turning points to ensure no rider deviated from the route.
Within the first 4 miles, calamity struck as my dropper post failed me. Being unable to raise my seat, I was forced to ride the remaining 17 miles in a low seated position. My poor knees.
With a thousand riders charging up and down singletrack paths, there was a number of stops along the route where bottlenecks of riders formed. This can't be helped when an event has a large number of entrants of varying ability.
Thankfully these stops were short, and we were all pedalling on our way again shortly after. It was a great excuse for a quick banana boost though.
As a group, we decided to stick together throughout the route. Ensuring no one was left behind on the climbs and descents, and making sure everyone was comfortable with the pace.
However, riding in groups means an increased chance of mechanical issues. Over the course of the ride, we suffered two punctures tyres and time out for changing tubes.
It was only in the final 3 miles that our group got separated, but we carried on to the finishing area where we all met up again for a much needed piece of cake.
The Wild Boar Chase was great fun, despite the unavoidable mechanicals, spirits remained high throughout the group, and the event itself.
The large number of riders created a buzzing atmosphere that couldn't help but get you pumped for cycling the sportive.
For an event that largely relies on volunteers from the local community, the Wild Boar Chase was very well organised, signposted and all the staff on site were extremely helpful with any questions or queries you had. Even the marshals along the route were encouraging us as we sailed past.
It really is no wonder why a thousand riders turn up each year for this fun and challenging event.
The Wild Boar Chase was great fun, and ideal for beginners and experts a like for the varying distances and technical options to choose from.
Entering in ride events are a great way to challenge yourself, and hone your skills to become a more powerful and efficient rider.
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