A nice cup of tea

mid ride brew stop

Anyone who knows me knows that mountain biking is much more to me than just riding a bike. Mountain biking keeps me fit, gives me time to think, provides me with the odd thrill at a bike park or on a steep hill side and it’s my socialising time with friends, friends that I have met because of mountain biking. I also like to take photos and bikes take me places I wouldn’t necessarily go on foot or can reach by car. Getting out doors and enjoying the view, nature and peace and quiet is up there possibly at the top of the list. The other benefits are bi-products of this “hobby”.

tea brewing equipment

While group or club rides are great fun, when riding on my own I can enjoy the peace and quiet at my pace, take as many photos as I like without keeping others waiting and generally slow things down if necessary. This week I took this to another level and introduced a proper cup of tea into my ride.

Some friends of mine occasionally bivvy camp and have camping and cooking gear. Bivvy camping is next on my list of biking activities but first I just had to try the #MidRideBrewStop.

A visit to GoOutdoors earlier this week and a little over £30 later and I had all I needed to make a cup of tea on trail. Now I have been known to take a flask of coffee out on long rides and it’s certainly nice to have a hot drink on a winter ride, however I had been reliably informed that making a fresh cup of tea from freshly boiled water is unbeatable.

Yesterday I rode out for a few hours trying a new 1×10 set up on my Giant and also took my tea making kit. Stopping in a sheltered spot and unpacking the stove and tea bag felt a bit silly to start with, but once the water had boiled, and a mug of tea brewed it all made sense.

Stopping and taking a few sips from a flask is ok – a little boost of caffeine, some warming liquid to take away a chill has its benefits, but taking the time to enjoy a full freshly brewed mug of tea is something else. I thought I was enjoying the sights and sounds of my surrounding countryside when I stopped for a breather at the top of a climb, or when I paused to take a photo; but sitting for 10 mins with a cup of tea is totally different.

I started hearing birds and the sounds of trees, took time to admire the views properly and had a proper time to think. Mostly my thoughts were about my new 1×10 set up and whether or not I needed to get that extender ring, but still it was a whole new experience.

GoOutdoors, JetBoil, High Gear

The kit wasn’t expensive and wasn’t the smallest I could have purchased. I was recommended some Alpkit equipment which I may well get my hands on, but this gear from GoOutdoors was cheaper and it’s larger capacity will come in handy for some summer camping with my son.

Now I will be planning some of my solo rides around “nice spot for a cuppa” locations so expect some more tea brewing stories and photos this summer.

Classic Welsh Routes – Pont Scethin

When the words “classic” and “Welsh” feature in a mountain bike route description you know you are guaranteed two things – stunning views and big climbs. The Pont Scethin loop from Tal-y-Bont is no exception – though this one threw in some of the best natural descents and single track I have ridden in the UK.

Pont-Scethin

View from the top of the Braich Descent

To round off our weekend in North Wales the classic Pont Scethin ride was a no brainer for all of us who could stay for the Sunday. The weather looked like it was going to stay with us for one more day and the ride delivered everything we could have hoped for.

Starting somewhere near the beach at Tal-y-Bont we pedalled the first few hundred metres (vertical) on tarmac – taking us a few kilometres into our ride and getting us nicely warmed up for the off road section.  A old coach track or drovers trail led us to the small stone bridge to cross Afon Ysgethin – the pont (or bridge) in the name of the ride – and then we had a beast of a climb to take us to the 572m cairn location for a breather before our first descent.

The Braich is approximately 4km long and dropped us approx 300m through varying tracks and single track down a very windy hillside. This left everyone grinning and apart from a few technical rocky sections and some ruts it can be ridden by riders of all abilities.

Pont Scethin Map - MBR

This meant that we had to climb back over the mountain to head back to Tal-y-Bont. Craig-y-Grut is the “3866th highest peak in the British Isles and the 257th tallest in Wales”, but even this random fact didn’t phase us – especially as we were heading for the Bwlch y Rhiwgr (Pass of the Drovers) which would only only require us to climb approx 250m though even this was tough going!

We had a big breather here, knowing we weren’t going to stop until we reached the sea – dropping from 440m to sea level over the next 10km was to become one of my most memorable rides and definitely my high light for the weekend.

The video should speak for itself – the descent went on and on, through woods, moorland, farm tracks, single track, rocks, fields and eventually tarmac, boardwalk, pebbles and sand.

This loop should be on every UK mountain bikers checklist as it delivers everything you could hope for – and if the Welsh sun is shining down on you too its just about the perfect day out.

Climbing and Descending Snowdon on a Bike

Snowdon by Bike

Snowdon by Bike


I am not a great climber. Maybe I’m just lazy and don’t push myself hard enough, maybe my technique is all wrong, maybe I pick the wrong gear – one way or another I am slow uphill. I am not happy about it but its where I am and I’ll settle for bringing up the rear when climbing.

Having done a few trips to France where climbing was a huge part of the process, the prospect of “riding” up Snowdon (Wales highest peak) didn’t phase me at all – it was the opportunity to tick off a bucket list item and to ride down the brilliant Rangers Path.

Just before the climb

Just before the climb

As part of our weekend in North Wales with MB Swindon, we had decided that Snowdon was a must and as the weather promised to be on our side we would have been stupid to have not taken the opportunity to climb in the dry, sunny conditions and enjoy the clear views from the summit.

An early start had on the mountain before 9am and we made our way…

Hopefully, the video will speak for itself. It was a slog getting up the Llanberis Path. We stuck together as a group so naturally we slowed each other down. It gets tricky when you stop and start and you lose some momentum. Sill it meant we could take in the views and enjoy the scenery.

The descent was tougher on some that others. I loved the loose technical nature of the trail. Not built for bikes its a mess really, with loose rocks and boulders and impossible sections with no pedal room or simply too rugged to ride. It was possibly one of my favourite descents ever and if someone had given me the opportunity to be dropped at the top and do it again I would have bitten their hand off.

Would I do it again? Absolutely yes, only if the weather would join us like it did last Friday.

Music: PowderFinger – Burn Your Name

It’s good here

old Roman Road Wiltshire

Right from my doorstep I have some great countryside. It’s not perfect, as I would love some mountains or miles of forest, but it’s great. Mountains are a bit hard to come by in Wiltshire but it’s reasonable hilly where I live.

I can ride my bike from my house and within minutes be climbing a short hill to the Cherhill Monument and one of Wiltshire’s many white horses. From there I can pick up the White Horse Way, Wessex Ridgeway and the Wansdyke.

White Horse Way

Further afield, but still in cycling distance are the forests such as West Woods and the Savernake, and not the World Heritage site of Avebury.

All of these areas can be explored on foot or by bike and I do regularly.

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Miles of off road exploring are available in the form of the Cherhill Downs close to home and I have begun exploring more recently on foot with our latest family member Brodie. Since he came to live with us last summer he has gradually ventured further and has started covering some good distances and has helped me find some new riding spots.

Oldbury Castle

I recently acquired a second hand Genesis Alpitude hard tail which is now my weapon of choice for local rides. My Giant Trance will certainly get a few outings and will be used for trail centres etc, but the Alpitude is perfect for these rolling hills.

This post was supposed to go up before I headed to North Wales for the weekend – that will follow soon as will the video and photos.

genesis alpitude 26 hard tail

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Moove Torque Flat Pedals

Tim Norris:

A brief pedal review from my other blog. That is all…

Originally posted on The Gear Factor:

Moove MTB Torque Flat Pedals

Haven’t written a review for a while, but finally I have some new gear to share my thoughts on. Flat pedals are a pretty key part of your MTB set up: without them how are you going to rotate the cranks, to turn the wheels, to climb that hill, so you can come down again with a big smile on your face?

My Alpitude was crying out for a bit of bling and so what better way than to add some orange pedals. I will admit that my first stop was SuperStarComponents – having already had a more than satisfactory experience with their Nano Thru Pin Flats there was no doubt I was going to start with their pedals. However, no orange in stock! Time to moove on.

I had seen some favourable review of the Moove pedals and they looked pretty similar so I gave them a call and…

View original 215 more words

Ryan Leech wheelie e-learning

Ryan Leech has got some skills. I think I first spotted him on Extreme Sports Ride Guide mountain bike show. It was a kind travel programme for mountain bikers – only one episode was in the UK which is a shame, but it was great to see some cool riding and stunning locations from around the world.

Anyway, Ryan is a trials rider and in one or two episodes demonstrates his Danny Mackaskill’s and hopes around some rocks by a mountain lake and in another rides with Hans Rey.

But here we are with what I think might be a first – a paid for ‘learn how to wheelie’ course with a legend but in the form of webisodes (videos etc) delivered weekly on the internet. I am intrigued and am considering subscribing for the $30 fee just to see how he presents a wheelie course on line like this.

Here’s the link for you to see for yourself –

http://www.ryanleech.com/wheelies/

Scouting new MTB routes

#SingleTrackSunday #tongueoutflatout #mtb #traildog #wiltshire #sunny #springishere

A photo posted by Tim Norris (@_timfromwales) on

One of the many benefits of getting a dog has been the additional exercise and fresh air that we collectively as a family have been getting. For me, a nice long dog walk also provides opportunities to check out new riding spots. Taking the gamble on the bike of hoping over a fence or into some woods can be fruitless and a bit of a drag if there is nothing to ride there. But with the dog its never a waste of time as we get to explore and just walk somewhere different.

We have explored a few spots this way and I have been able to add some extra loops to my local riding routes.

Cool tree #lonelytree #wiltshire

A photo posted by Tim Norris (@_timfromwales) on

I also like riding alone to scout out new spots – nobody else to let down if you hike up a hill or through some woods to find nothing. The days are getting longer and a little drier (though not today) so there will be more opportunity to ride and dog walk in the light soon and more hidden gems to find on my doorstep.

If it felt like spring on Wednesday, then it feels like summer today #mtb #wilthsire #bikelife

A photo posted by Tim Norris (@_timfromwales) on

Right now I am planning a route for tomorrow’s group ride that will take my fellow riders to new spots and show them new sections to link up our usual trails.

#singletracksunday but no bike with me – must come back #mtb #wiltshire

A photo posted by Tim Norris (@_timfromwales) on