Obviously, it depends what your local spot is. If you’re in Wales or Scotland, you’re almost guaranteed to have some form of quality riding nearby, right? The same could be said for the Peak District, Lake District or even North York Moors, I’d guess. Not to mention the Yorkshire Dales or Cornwall’s coastal paths. However, that’s not the case for all of us. The east of Yorkshire is hilly and perfect for long walks across the Yorkshire Wolds… but there’s a considerable lack of nearby spots for mountain biking. I’m often left with a choice of heading around an hour north, south or west to find something worth riding for the kick of adrenaline.
More recently, I’ve been travelling up to Scarborough to George’s local spot. Since we’ve been riding together fairly regularly for three years or so, we often meet at trails and head out on the bikes together. Having a spot to call local is something I lack but enjoying someone else’s with them is great.
Raincliffe woods, in the Forge Valley near Scarborough, is hardly a mountain biking mecca like some of the places I mentioned earlier. It is good fun though. The few, short trails that are built in the woods are often quite loamy or have sketchy built features to keep you entertained. None of the runs are longer than a minute top to bottom but this encourages you to session them again and again either progressing or finding gradually more ridiculous ways to get down the hill in one piece. In a nutshell, it takes the effort out of mountain biking and leaves you with all the fun.
Just like when we were kids, riding a local spot (or someone else’s local) gives you the sense of freedom – there’s no gear needed and we often leave even the water in the car. There’s no pressure of getting round the whole trail in a certain time. There’s barely anyone else around to watch you make a fool of yourself by attempting strange manoeuvres or trying to jump from sketchy kickers. It’s just all the fun of riding bikes and none of the adult responsibilities.
Now, if only I had a local…