A Lockdown Micro Adventure - Pedal Progression
 

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18 November 2020

A Lockdown Micro Adventure

Does anyone have a strange sense of deja vu? Like we’re stuck in a Groundhog Day loop all over again? I do… Actually we’ve definitely been here before.

Welcome to Lockdown 2. We’ve all become accustomed to (and tired of) the restrictions that govern our lives, but fortunately we can still get out and enjoy ourselves. We hope you’re all keeping safe and well. Chin up and ride on. We’ve got this!

Locked down doesn’t need to mean locked in and mountain biking is the perfect way to get your daily dose of exercise and fresh autumn air. Plus, it’s a socially distanced activity by nature so there’s really no excuse!

So, there’s no better time than now to explore our local area, and to give you a helping hand we’ve set up a Pedal Progression Komoot account, enabling you to follow us beyond the walls of Ashton Court and Leigh Woods. To kick things off, we’ve scoped out a route for you using the navigation app. It starts and finishes at the shop but goes far beyond Nova (Ashton Court) and Yer ‘Tiz (Leigh Woods).

So, give follow us on Komoot, grab your bike (or a hire bike), pack, smart phone and snacks and join us on a local micro adventure…

The Route

What To Expect

So you’ve lapped Yer Tiz a fair few times. You remember each twist and turn of Nova and perhaps you’ve aced your Strava record thrice over. Or maybe you’re just feeling a little audacious and fancy something new? This ride is for for you. Designed to take in some lesser known trails and single track as well as some Bristol classics, you’ll go to Bourton Coombe and back via some scenic spots such as Ashton Hill and Tyntesfield.

The route is approximately 16 miles long and involves 1,250 feet of climbs and descents. The ride will take you about 2 hours 30 mins if you stick to the route, dependant on fitness, however we’d recommend making a day of it to explore the spots. Expect plenty of natural terrain, bridleways and single track and as minimal amount of road time possible. It must be said however, that this isn’t a flat or easy ride, it’s a mountain bike ride after all and we’ve tried to make it as such!

Please be aware you may have to push your bike on small sections of linking footpath. The route can be followed by the book for a direct circuit, or serve as a rough guide if you choose to veer off course for your own MTB odyssey. If you do this, you’ll likely be rewarded with hidden trails, off-piste steeps and a bigger buzz!

The Ride

It’s Autumn. Arguably one of my favourite times of year, despite the regular chore of having to clean the bike 2 or 3 times a week… As the days draw in, nature has a beautiful way of reminding us that everything is always changing. As I adjust to my new role and new way of life at Pedal Progression, I get a renewed sense of gratitude and optimism for the year ahead.

We began our ride with the ever popular Nova Trail at Ashton Court. Pedalling into the woods and onto the trail, we immediately hit a fast swoopy section of berms and rollers that characterise this fun flowy loop. Weaving through the woods, we get to the clearing and can catch our breath. The Quarry descent is next, a favourite among seasoned shredders and first time riders alike, so it felt appropriate to include it on the route. Using the first rollers to pump up momentum, you begin to fly into a series of twisting turns and optional drops, where you can unlock speed and flow!

Beast the rocky climb to the top (where Super Nova starts), you’re now leaving Nova and won’t return until the final push to the end. Take the left on the gravel track and stay on it to the edge of the estate where you turn left onto Longwood Lane, heading towards the village of Failand.

Ashton Hill Plantation

Left down West Road you’ll get to the entrance of the Ashton Hill Plantation, the top of our first big descent. This area of forestry is home to the renowned riding spot known by locals as Belmont. Boasting downhill tracks, freeride lines, sculpted berms and monster gaps, it’s a place for accomplished riders looking to challenge themselves. As we freewheel down the forest track, we get glimpses of the bike park hiding between the trees.

Belmont exists solely upon the hard work and dedication of the Belmont Riders Association, a group of passionate riders and trail builders, who keep it going year on year. With a new official status, it now goes by the name of Ashton Hill Bike Park. As well as the downhill tracks, there’s a tabletop line for dialling skills and several jump lines that feature gaps progressing in size from 10 to 30 footers. Basically, I wouldn’t recommend it for your next family bike ride.

The bike park remains closed over winter, as riding the trails in the wet causes trail erosion and a lot of extra work for the crew. If you’re into this kind of thing then get down for a big session next summer.

Dropping through the plantation, remember that most of the off road riding on this ride is shared with walkers, runners and horse riders so please be cautious and friendly towards other trail users at all times. Smiling at strangers costs us nothing!

Bourton Coombe

Following Komoot onwards from Belmont we eventually get to the village of Flax Bourton, which hosts the Bourton Coombe woodland that we traverse next. There’s loads to explore here and we encourage you to do so. A natural trail skirts the woodland with plenty of roots, off camber descents and a few small cliffs that’ll put your stomach in your mouth.

There’s plenty more to discover here in terms of downhill: Technical steeps, natural flow, drops and bomb holes. It’s worth an afternoon of following your nose to find the good stuff. Sticking to our route, we go up the bridleway which starts with a challenging rock slab incline, putting our balance, tyres and efforts to the test as we pick our way over the slippery rocks.

Following our trusty navigator through the mossy woodland, we eventually double back, dropping into the 1.8km long Stancombe Rush descent. It’s not exactly a smooth ride, with large rocks all the way down it can be tricky to find a nice line and the slick clay surface gets us skidding and slipping to the end, but as mountain bikers we love going downhill so it’s all good fun.

Tyntesfield

Leaving Flax by road, the ride takes us over more bridleway skirting field edges, up past a weir and over a shallow stream via a bridge. Or, if you’re childishly wired on a bike like me, just charge straight through it! Going upwards, it’s a bit of a grind but worth it as you ascend the bridleway through the National Trust grounds of Tyntesfield; another gorgeous country estate with a gothic manor house.

Exiting the estate via a bridleway, we’re well on our way back, bypassing Failand for the second time. We cross some more simple forest single track at Wraxall Piece that spits us out onto the home straight, Beggar Bush Lane. Coasting this last road back to Ashton Court for the final sections of Nova, finishing what we started. We ramp it up one last time, over the final berms and rollers, embracing the speed of Nova to get us home! A cake and a brew at the café never tasted so good.

We had an ace time planning and riding this route for you. Pop into the shop and let us know how you get on. Happy riding!

Want to try this route? Hire bikes available here.

Phil Simpson

Written by:

Phil Simpson