Local riding (for local people)

Riding some steps near Stroud
Steps on the Nailsworth It ride

This was a weekend of local riding. I looked at the map and realised that the area right outside my door was local so it would probably be ideal. I easily rack up 20 thousand miles per annum driving places and a lot of that is MTB related. I’ve been to all three corners of the isles and abroad to search out trails.

I’ve always been aware that there are some great trails much closer to home: Dursely, North Nibley, Randwick, Painswick and Cranham are all well known mountain biking areas. The time had come to  reduce the hours sat in the car and replace them with pedal pushing. This is part of my plan to develop my stamina – hours spent in the saddle.

The previous weekend I’d set the ball rolling with a 70km door to window ride with Gary Palmer (of local cycling group Dirty Saddles). This was a route recce for a future MBSwindon club ride . It was Gary who invented several local rides for the club such as the Painful Painswick trip and the Uley Novice Friendly ride. For more route ideas see the recent Nailsworth It ride and more in the collection of Cotswold rides.

North Nibley jump
Local trails the previous weekend


Stroudwater canal at nightOn Friday I cycled to local shop Noah’s Ark for a guided ride. Six of us went off on a sociable and quite speedy trip round sneaky local trails. Rather conveniently this included some areas that I had been studying closely on the map recently, particularly the bridleway and descent to Chalford from Minchinhampton. This was also the first time I’d followed the Stroudwater canal path all the way from Chalford to Stroud. I found that there’s a good set of steps at the end of the old railway line Rodborough. 


On Saturday I set off at at 9am to ride from the valley up to Standish car park to meet up with MBSwindon for “Gary’s Randwick Roller Coaster”. The previous Saturday had been plain cold all day. This week a warm glow was radiating from the sun and was available whenever out of the shadows. This gave me some insight into the mind of a cat.

Gary and the MBSwindon crew
Painswick Beacon MTB
Painswick Beacon

See the ride report on MBSwindon for details of what we got up to.

My extended route for the day consisted of:

  • Riding to the car park.
  • Riding half way back to where I’d just come from.
  • Doing the rest of the club ride.
  • Repeating the second half of the ride to show James and friends the route back to Painswick.
  • Doing the steep drops off Painswick beacon and returning via an alternative route*.
  • Checking out a bomb hole near Edge.
  • Riding home via some steps at Ebley.
  • Adding 11km on the cycle path to ensure I covered more distance than James (who rode from Cheltenham). It worked – I covered 70.00km versus his 66km.

*this started out as “you’re on your own so don’t do anything too dangerous” and then turned into “what the heck?”.

Overall these are all great natural trails with a range of entertaining features such as drops, a smattering of jumps and some big, optional ramps.

Standish sunset
View from Standish woods


MTB yoga
Mid ride yoga?

I spent the morning time wasting on Twitter and Facebook. It was 12:30pm by the time I set out on the bike. I think I was tired. I’d drawn a 55km route on Bikehike the previous evening. This combined a few well known sections with a whole load of new bridleways. I really wanted to see what the woods at Sapperton might hold in terms of sneaky trails.

I carried a good pace along the cycle path to Nailsworth and made short work of the climb up into the woods. As I pedalled through sticky mud I decided that I definitely felt a bit tired. The frequency of my stops and the amount of food that I was eating at each stop confirmed this.

It’s great when you’re out riding and even a fairly tame looking bridleway turns out to be fun to ride. Sometimes it’s just about being out there and enjoying the situation rather than looking for technical features. I’m always a little wary when on my own anyway – I’ve seen people break collar bones with innocuous looking falls.

Autumn leaves
Leaves and stuff on a bridleway

The bridleways up beyond Avening sapped my energy. It was a combination of a long and gradual climb and a sticky surface. I’d had a funny feeling when looking at the maps that the woods over the railway tunnel might offer a route to Sapperton. This turned out to be correct, with a range of paths leading past the tunnel air vents. It looked like the railway builders had dumped a load of their spoil in the woods too. I considered riding a steep rock ramp down to the track but decided against it. I almost fell off the rocks when my shoes slipped on the gravel. So maybe that was an omen.

Stroud valleys in the dusk.I had a good look round the woods at Sapperton but failed to find anything of great interest. I did see a lot of signs explaining that Lord Bathhurst was a very nice chap and welcomed walkers and horse riders between 9am and 5pm. I need to find out what the status is for bridleways through the woods.

It was mid afternoon by now and the light had started to fade since 2:30pm. Luckily I had my lights with me and these were soon needed.

I followed a great bridleway from Frampton Mansell towards Chalford and repeated the Friday night descent down to Chalford and on to the canal footpath. I approached the end of the ride with 51km showing on the Garmin and decided that 60.00km was necessary. I did a bonus loop round from Ryeford to Ebley and a trip to the steps for a moody night shot. This took several attempts. All good practice.

Mountain biking down steps in the dark.

After this I was very clear that my priority was to have some rest. The bike was given a quick wash and then I went inside to edit photos, maps, eat lentils and do some recovery yoga.

Overall that was a great weekend of riding and there’s still more that I need to explore. The stats below estimate that I used 5,600 KCal over the weekend. That’s over 2 day’s worth of extra energy to cover the riding. Maybe that’s why I feel quite hungry today.

Map showing 168 km of riding in the Stroud area

Friday Saturday Sunday Total
Garmin connect Garmin Garmin Garmin  3
Gpx gpx gpx gpx  3
Distance (km) 38 70 60 168
Moving time (hh:mm) 2:36 5:19 4:27  12:23
Elevation (Garmin corrected) (m) 333 894 460 1687
Calories (Garmin guess) 1100 2600 1900 5600
Av moving speed (km/h) 15.5 13.2 13.5  13.6
Max speed (km/h) 46.2 50.6 47.7  –

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