London isn’t well known for its mountain biking. It is however a popular sport. The trouble is that everyone needs somewhere to ride.
To the west of London there is a ‘bike park’. Although this isn’t a bike park in the way that those in Wales are, the forest in Bracknell has a huge network of interweaving singletrack. You simply ride down one of the fire roads, and dive off into the forest wherever you see an opening. It is fast and twisty, and in places quite technical. At the same time it is accessible, with it as hard or difficult as you want it to be. Most of the danger comes from the speed at which you take the twisty sections, as trees are hard. This is precisely the location that was suggested for the 2012 Olympics, which I would support fully, however, I think that it has been decided that 45min from the centre of London is too far, so there will be a car park to ride around (I don’t know this, but I have a feeling in my bones!). What is difficult is knowing your way around. It is hugely easy to become lost, but that isn’t too difficult to rectify, as the car park is signposted fairly well throughout.
Yesterday I visited the Bracknell forest centre, and was riding alone. I have a thing about cycling, that essentially it is a solitary activity, but I don’t object to riding with people at any time. It also makes it a little more social, and it is the social element that is lacking for me at this time. What the forest wasn’t short of was riders. The carpark was full of cars with bike racks, and expensive machinery. I find it kind of ironic, how comparatively ‘over-biked’ people seem to be, but I suppose if you spend a lot of time travelling to Wales, or other ‘proper’ mountain biking in the UK, you will get a bike that is suitable to that application. I ask myself also if it is a case of wanting something that is a lot different to the standard ‘diamond’ design to identify yourself as being a ‘mountain biker’ in an area without mountains? I don’t know, but sometimes I wonder.
I rode for a couple of hours, fully overbiked myself. It was like little sprints between fast rolling twisty sections.