How do I book?
first off we need the date that you’d like to do the ride. Hopefully it will be free, but if not we can suggest some alternatives if we are booked up. Then we need to know a little about your riding history. How long have you been riding? What sort of rides do you typically do? What sort of a ride would you like us to plan? Do you want a long non-technical route with great views and lung busting climbs? Or something shorter with sweet singletrack in it too? We can tailor the ride to meet your needs exactly. The other essential is the group size. Will it just be you or will there be a group of you?
Do I need to be really fit to do this?
No, we can tailor the route to be as demanding or as relaxing as you want, it’s our job to give you a really great experience out on the trail, we want you to enjoy it!! Just make sure you give us the correct information in the initial e mail and then we can make a good assessment of the sort of route to choose.
What sort of bike do I need for this?
You need a well maintained one! Basically bring your own bike. It’s not essential to have the latest shiny bike, you don’t need full suspension. The south Downs have a lot of varied terrain, but the bulk of the main tracks are relatively smooth and free from rocks. Obviously singletrack tends to be fairly rooty in nature but again, bags of suspension is not a necessity. As long as your bike is well maintained and fits you well you’ll be fine.
What if my bike goes wrong?
It’s up to you to ensure that your bike is in good working order before you come along, we will assess your bike before we hit the trails using the CTC’s ‘M check’. This will pick up any problems you may have missed and ensure you get maximum time on the bike.
What else do I need to bring then?
PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (mandatory) – Helmet and gloves. We don’t care what you say, you need to wear a helmet! We’ve broken enough between us to know that even the most innocuous low speed tumble can have terrible consequences if the old noggin isn’t well covered up. Same with the gloves really, you don’t want to slip off and skin the palms of your hands, it hurts! If you want to wear shin / knee and elbow pads too that’s fine.
CLOTHING – You obviously know what you feel comfortable cycling in, but we would advise you check the weather forecast the day before and check you pack appropriate clothing for the conditions. If you’re a relative newcomer to this MTB lark, we would suggest a quality pair of padded shorts will make the experience much more enjoyable for you. Also even if the forecast is good a lightweight windproof or waterproof tucked in your bag can be useful. It can be windy on the top of the downs so something to keep the chill out can be handy, even in the summer.
FOOD and DRINK – Keeping well hydrated is essential for good performance, especially on hot days. A hydration pack such as a Camelbak that will hold a couple of litres of your desired tipple is handy for keeping you going. Failing that most MTB’s have bottle cage bosses. Get a couple of large bottles on there and you should be sorted. Now it’s no secret round these parts that we like the odd slice of cake and indeed we can add any number of cake shop stops to our routes as they’ve been visited in the name of research many times, so bring some cash too. Still you may prefer to bring your own food, we recommend energy gels as they can really get you going again quickly when your energy levels are low.
SPARES – You know what bits and pieces you will need to carry for your bike, but if you don’t can we at least suggest that you bring a spare tube. We carry a wide range of tools and bits and bobs that can fix your problems. Failing that we’ve learnt some good trail bodges over the years if the worst comes to the worst! We carry a full first aid kit and survival blankets too.
CHANGE OF CLOTHES – There’s nothing worse than sitting muddy and stinky in the car on the way home after a good blast. Bring some spare clothes with you so you can travel home in comfort.
What if the weather is bad?
This is the South Downs, not the South Pole. It’s very unlikely a ride would be canceled due to the weather. Just remember to pack your kit according to the forecast and you’ll be fine. We know which tracks are adversely affected by the weather and we steer well clear of them! Routes can be modified to lessen the effects of any adverse weather conditions.
It’s flat down South, what’s the point of riding there?
Just ask anyone who has ever ridden the South Downs Way in a day how flat it is and you’ll find out! There’s over 10,000 feet of climbing from end to end. The hills may not be big, but there’s plenty of them. Lots of climbs obviously mean lots of sweet descents too, we try to make as many of them on singletrack as possible.
Who is responsible for me?
You are! Yes mountainbiking can be inherently dangerous and although we will encourage you to develop your riding skills further it’s up to you not to bite off more than you can chew. We will always brief you on every section of trail and alert you to any potential hazards. It’s up to you to make an educated decision on whether you would want to tackle a trail obstacle or not. If you think it is beyond your skills there’s no shame in saying so, it’s better to finish the ride in one piece!
How do I get there?
Most rides start from Worthing or the surrounding area although other start points can be arranged. Worthing is served by a main line railway station and is also easily accessed by the A24 and A23 off of the M25 to the North or by the A27 / M27 from the coastal area.