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Ladies MTB Advanced Skills Course 22nd October 2016

MTB Instruction and Flow MTB advanced mountain bike skills course

Flow MTB are pleased to support an advanced ladies MTB skills course with MTB Instruction taking place on Saturday 22nd October 2016 in Woburn, Bedfordshire.

MTB Instruction’s advanced skills course covers:

  • confidence at speed; learn how to alter your perception of speed and ride faster
  • dealing with trail obstacles; how to get over, through and up things
  • cornering techniques; from switchbacks to flat corners and berms
  • drop offs
  • tables
  • gaps

Adding trail techniques into your ride like pumping, pre-jumping, drifting, manuals, gaps, table tops, drop offs, being loose on your bike, slow in – fast out will all enhance your ride portfolio.

The course runs from 9am to 3pm and costs £70 per person. Please email info@mtbinstruction.co.uk to book your place or find out more.

This course is being sponsored by Flow MTB so in addition to a great day’s coaching you’ll also get a free Flow goodie bag.

Looking for an intro course? We’re sponsoring one of those too! Sunday 23rd October, find our more here

There’s lots of sensations and feel in mountain biking and when they’re all in sync with your skill set your flow is enhanced and your enjoyment on the trails is too.

Feeling fluid with flow = speed and “speed is your friend” after all!

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Women’s Downhill Apparel

Flow MTB Womens Downhill Apparel

Sombrio V’al Shorts and Pedigree Jersey

The most feedback we’ve received from female riders since launching Flow is the lack of sizes for larger ladies so when we decided to do some downhill apparel testing we enlisted the help of Nikki, a downhill rider from Chatel, France. We’re not all the same and come in all shapes and sizes and at 5’8 Nikki is a UK 16/18.

Sombrio really addresses women’s sizing with their range of apparel going from XS to XL, and it’s a proper XL. When Nikki put on the Sombrio V’al shorts her response was “this is the first pair of women’s specific shorts I’ve ever worn” – typical of many female mountain bikers she’s usually kitted out in men’s MTB apparel.

The Sombrio V’al shorts are Sombrio’s best seller and come in black and lapis and the Pedigree jersey comes in plum and floral print.

Nikki wore XL Pedigree jersey and XL V’al shorts both worn over body armour.

It was really cool to ride in shorts that are bright and fun rather than my staple black. These shorts are a lovely turquoise colour and fitted nicely over my massively padded body armour shorts, even with my curvy hips which was a result. The fit meant I could easily move around in them and they didn’t move, flap or get in the way when I was shifting positions on my bike; I often get my usual (men’s) shorts caught on my seat. The Sombrio V’al shorts were long enough to reach my knees which is a refreshing change, being tall I struggle to find long shorts and there is enough room for the tops of my knee pads to sit unrestricted around my knees.

I often have trouble with my body armour under-vest riding up and find myself pulling it down all the time however, with the Sombrio shorts on I just tucked my body armour into the shorts and didn’t have to touch them again, they stayed put all day, which was awesome! They were cool on a hot day and held up really well on dry and dusty trails, with enough room in one of the two mesh pockets to slip an iPhone in. I would definitely buy AND recommend these shorts they’re super comfy, snug and fitted really well, so much so I used them for the next 2 days, for a 45km lift assisted trail ride and a bit of a play in the bike park in Chatel. A great piece of kit.

The Sombrio Pedigree jersey again came in a fun pink color, girly but not too girly! This is the first 3/4 sleeve jersey I’ve worn, usually sticking to full sleeves, and I really liked it, my sleeves kept out of the way much more and they fitted nicely rather than being loose and baggy.  I wore it over my body armour and was a nice length with a longer back to cover your bottom a bit more. Nicely breathable I didn’t get too hot whilst riding, and although I didn’t actually fall off to test its hard wearing abilities it looks like it would hold up pretty well to a bit of a bashing. It was great to wear a jersey made to fit a woman rather than a straight up and down men’s jersey, I loved it!

I’d never thought about buying women’s specific riding gear before, partly due to the fact that I expected the sizes not to be big enough and that I can’t be bothered with the let down of not finding something that fits AND I expected all the designs would be too cute and girly…. not anymore 🙂 thanks Sombrio!

Fox Demo Shorts and Long Sleeve Jersey

The Demo collection is Fox‘s first female-specific downhill collection with a long sleeve jersey and shorts and is designed to be breathable and purpose build for female riders. It comes in two colorways Neo Red and Miami Green.

Tracey is a UK 10/12 and wore the medium Demo shorts and large Demo jersey over body armour.

The Fox Demo long sleeve jersey fit really comfortably over my bulky body armour whilst retaining a feminine outline.  It is constructed from a breathable ‘waffle’ material with a fine mesh down each side of the jersey.  This type of fabric allows air to circulate around the body and meant that I stayed cool and dry on a scorching day in Pila.

The Fox Demo downhill shorts are manufactured from a durable, heavyweight material, fantastic for downhill riding and there are no rips, marks or scuffs on these shorts even after a few crashes.  Fully lined in a soft, comfortable mesh, they have a low rise and sat comfortably just above my hips. The inside of the waist band has a ‘grippy’ strip of material that keeps the shorts in place and they also have a really secure fastening that isn’t going to pop open during a crash!  I’m 5’6”/168cm and they finished just on the knee with plenty of room for knee pads.  A really comfortable, good looking and hard wearing pair of shorts.

I thought the Fox Demo shorts and jersey might have looked a bit too much worn together but they looked really great on!

Flare Roost Shorts and Long Sleeve Jersey

The Roost collection is Flare‘s downhill range and comes in two color ways; black and grey, and purple and yellow.

Anita is a UK 8/10 and wore the small (10) shorts and jersey, we recommend you go up one size if you want to wear body armour and protection shorts underneath.

The Roost shorts are made from a heavy duty fabric and are fully lined. There’s plenty of room to fit impact shorts and knee pads underneath and the leg length is long enough to keep the upper legs covered when riding; no annoying gap between the bottom of the shorts and the top of the knee pad, a definite advantage. The velcro waist adjuster makes it easy to adjust them when you’re wearing protection underneath for the perfect fit, the only comment would be the adjuster didn’t seem as sophisticated or sturdy as the Fox ratchet system.

The Roost long sleeve jersey is made from 100% Coolmax Polyester and I didn’t overheat even though it was a hot sunny day. The high quality fabric held up when I crashed on a berm with no rips, tears or abrasions! The cut of the jersey is really feminine but whilst the Roost jersey fitted nicely over my back protector I couldn’t wear elbow pads underneath as the sleeves are too slim fitting and I’d say sleeves loose enough for protection are essential on a jersey that’s aimed at downhill riding.

Even though Flare Clothing have been up and running for 3 years this is the first Flare outfit I’ve tried and despite the sleeve issue I really liked the Roost outfit, it felt comfy and cool and the purple and yellow combo certainly gets you noticed on the trails.

Pila Bike Park

Pila is in the Aosta Valley in the western Alps, Italy and has to be one of our favorite places to ride.  All the Freeride trails are good fun and riders of all abilities could easily spend a few days riding here, mixing the Downhill and the Freeride trails. The highlight of Pila is the Pila – Aosta Freeride, an 11km downhill combining steep, dusty singletrack with drops and jumps to form an awesome trail which takes you back down to the bottom of the valley to the lift station in Aosta. Connecting the Downhill or one of the Freeride trails from the top lift with this trail can give you a downhill run with a vertical descent of 2300m!

If you’re in the area it’s definitely worth a visit. We were based in Chatel, France but got a transfer to Pila from the friendly team at Magic Transfers

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Enter our competition to WIN some amazing ION protection

ION protection competition WIN knee pads, elbow pads and gloves

Could this be some of the best Mountain Biking terrain in a place known only for Surf? In Bali, Indonesia you can literally shred a volcano all the way down to the beach.

We’re giving one lucky winner the chance to win some amazing protection from leading brand ION.

ION Elbow Lite Olive

Light, breathable elbow pad with a very slim outline. Good impact protection by a combining thin SAS-TEC padding with a hidden hard cap (to distribute loads in case of a crash). The unique Snug_Loop construction keeps the pads in place, even on those super long tours.

ION Knee Lite Zip Olive

A light, breathable and pedal friendly kneepad with a very slim outline. Good impact protection by a combining thin SAS-TEC padding with a hidden hard cap to distribute loads in case of a crash. Extra wide silicone ribbons on top and bottom keeps the pads in place at any time. Now equipped with a zipper for getting into the knee protector nearly on-the-fly!

ION Gat Glove Olive

Light gloves with some additional ‘Overinjected Protection’ for your fingers. The palm is made from a single piece to avoid irritating seams and give you an excellent feel for the handlebars. The ‘Digital Tips’ feature makes it easy to use your GPS app or answer a call with your gloves on.

This competition is now closed.

Like us on Facebook to keep up to date on all our competitions.

The closing date for the competition is Friday 29th July, 2016. After this date no further entries will be permitted. One winner will be selected at random and the winner will be notified by email.

The competition is being run by Flow MTB Limited. No purchase is necessary to enter this competition.

By entering this competition you agree to Flow MTB Limited storing your name and email address for the purpose of the competition. You will also be added to the Flow MTB mailing list, at any point after the competition you can request for your details to be removed by emailing hello@flowmtb.co.uk

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Ladies Downhill at Forest of Dean

Flow MTB at Forest of Dean ladies downhill

I was invited along to “Ladies do FOD DH”. It’s an unofficial event organised by Amanda Tanfield with the aim of getting female downhill riders together to session the downhill trails, help each other out and generally have a laugh doing it. So on a sunny Saturday in June myself and 16 other female downhillers of all ages and abilities turned up at the Forest of Dean for the event.

The Forest of Dean is the perfect venue for this kind of event with downhill trails to suit all abilities and after complaining only a few days before that I was fed up of riding my local wet sloppy trails it was a welcome relief to find the forest trails reasonably dry. The morning started with a session on the Sheepskull track. Splitting the trail down into ride-able sections Amanda lead trail walks pointing out trail features and best lines to take depending on rider ability, we even got a perfectly timed demo from Katy Curd. Riders then sessioned the sections, pointed out new lines and encouraged others as we made our way down the trail.

Lunchtime came surprisingly quick and with hungry tummies fed and some delicious brownies from Emily we pushed back up to the top of Sheepskull and rode it all the way down one behind the other.

A push back up and this time the line of choice was GBU. As we were all more relaxed and confident on the bikes we decided not to do a track walk and just go for it. GBU has larger features than Sheepskull with 2 big drops but that didn’t deter the girls! Amanda demoed the slab drop which was her first time to a round of applause before we moved to the lower section of the course where a few more rad ladies sessioned the second drop, all captured on a video edit of the day by Kat.

I asked Amanda what inspired her to organise these days.

Why I do this is a long story but the basics come down to this… there are so few girls/ladies out there getting into downhill and those that are out there doing downhill don’t get to meet up so much. Hence I decided for my birthday not long ago to invite all the girls I had met briefly to go biking at the 417. This resulted in 2 more ladies days at the Forest of Dean. It is going so well and the girls/ladies want more. We have such a laugh. The sessioning of the trails has given the girls and myself so much confidence. The riding after just brings out huge smiles from all of us. It’s brilliant.

I chose to push up on these days with the girls as we get to chat, laugh and get to know each other. It is also cheap. It feels more casual. I’m no coach, just someone who would like to see more women out there. I’m proud that the girls and I are gaining so much confidence from learning together.

There are lots of events popping up around the UK to get women interested in all forms of mountain biking, it’s a fantastic way to meet new people, share experiences and ride together. For me it was a brilliant day spent with great people messing around on my bike; a perfect way to spend a Saturday! but don’t just take my word for it here’s what some of the other women had to say about the day.

“What a fantastic day never ridden downhill tracks before and it was less scary when they are broken down”

“Massive massive thank you Amanda you are awesome, today was fab, so nice to meet some new people and catch up with ladies I haven’t seen in a while. Cracking day, can’t wait for the next one”

“Thank you for today ladies it was a massive confidence giver and has given me lots to think about awesome day thanks Amanda for organising”

“Thanks Amanda for sorting another great day! Lovely to meet all you lovely ladies! Many thanks for your abundance of patience”

Big thanks to Amanda for organising, Emily for the brownies and Kat for the photos and video, I’m already looking forward to the next one.

Amanda is not a coach and those who need skills coaching should get coached by a professional, she learn’t her skills from Katy Curd. Flow MTB sponsor women’s MTB skills coaching with MTB Instruction including advanced downhill days, for more information please contact Mark by email info@mtbinstruction.co.uk

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Enter our competition to WIN some amazing Sombrio kit

Sombrio 2016 women's range available from Flow MTB

We love the 2016 Sombrio range and now we’re giving one lucky reader the chance to get their hands on some of the kit too. Prize includes:

This competition is now closed. Like us on Facebook to keep up to date on all our competitions.

The closing date for the competition is Thursday 30th June, 2016. After this date no further entries will be permitted. One winner will be selected at random on Friday 1st July 2016. The winner will be notified by email on Friday 1st July 2016.

The competition is being run by Flow MTB Limited. No purchase is necessary to enter this competition.

By entering this competition you agree to Flow MTB Limited storing your name and email address for the purpose of the competition. You will also be added to the Flow MTB mailing list, at any point after the competition you can request for your details to be removed by emailing hello@flowmtb.co.uk

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Sombrio 2016 Women’s Range

Sombrio 2016 women's range available from Flow MTB
I’ve long been a fan of Sombrio and have been wearing their clothing since I first discovered them in the bike shop in Glentress long before the new visitor center opened. They were one of the first brands to provide high performance riding apparel for women that wasn’t tight fitting and their shorts have always been that little bit longer than other brands.
I’ve been wearing the Marimba jacket since it arrived in March and I love it, it’s nice enough to wear both on and off the trails. It’s windproof and also has a DWR (durable water repellent) coating to prevent it from becoming saturated with water and I’ve worn it on trail rides throughout the spring without becoming over-heated. I put this jacket to the full test on a muddy day at Bikepark Brandnertal and it kept me clean and dry underneath, a wash down with the hose and a rinse through the washing machine and thankfully it was looking as good as new. The design on this and the Pedigree jersey is a lovely floral print.
The Pedigree jersey is a really nice breathable riding jersey. The fabric is soft and silky with a comfy loose fit. Personally I prefer 3/4 sleeve jerseys as they take me from trail rides to downhill days and the fit is loose enough to fit my elbow pads underneath, so a perfect jersey for me. Here’s a customer review of the Pedigree jersey

The V’al shorts are Sombrio’s best seller but I decided to put the Summit shorts to the test. I went for the black but they also come in royal plum too. These shorts are a light weight summer short and like the Marimba jacket they also have a DWR coating. The inseam is 13″ so long enough to reach my knees. There are 2 front zip pockets one of which also has a lift pass holder, ideal for summer trips to the mountains and a rear zip and flap pocket. The Velcro adjusters on the waist are ideal when you need to make adjustments for body armour. I also liked the small detail of the shaped side hem.

The Lily gloves bring a little bit of fun to your ride with the mustache and lips silicon grips on the braking fingers. These gloves have no gel pads and with the seamless palms you can easily forget you’re even wearing gloves. I really liked the cuff-less design.

You’ve seen what we thought of the Sombrio 2016 kit, now we’re giving one lucky winner the chance to WIN some amazing kit for themselves.

Products on test:
Marimba jacket – Black floral print
Pedigree jersey – Black floral print
Summit shorts – Black
Lily gloves – Black
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Ladies MTB Skills Course July 2016

MTB Instruction and Flow MTB ladies MTB skills course

MTB Instruction are now taking bookings for their Ladies Skills Day taking place on the 2nd July 2016 in Woburn, Bedfordshire.

The course will cover:

  • body position and bike dynamics
  • brake modulation
  • confidence at speed; learn how to alter your perception of speed and ride faster
  • dealing with trail obstacles; how to get over, through and up things
  • cornering techniques; from switchbacks to flat corners and berms

The course runs from 9am to 3pm and costs £70 per person. Please email info@mtbinstruction.co.uk to book your place or find out more.

This course is being sponsored by Flow MTB so in addition to a great day’s coaching you’ll also get a free Flow goodie bag.

All the skills you learn in the morning will take you seamlessly into riding natural trail sections with some flow, putting the core skills into practice and building your confidence on the bike to push just that little bit harder and enjoy your ride. #findyourflow

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Ladies MTB Skills Course June 2016

Flow MTB Ladies MTB Skills Day

MTB Instruction are now taking bookings for their Ladies Skills Day taking place on the 11th June 2016 in Woburn, Bedfordshire.

The course will cover:

  • body position and bike dynamics
  • brake modulation
  • confidence at speed; learn how to alter your perception of speed and ride faster
  • dealing with trail obstacles; how to get over, through and up things
  • cornering techniques; from switchbacks to flat corners and berms

The course runs from 9am to 3pm and costs £70 per person. Please email info@mtbinstruction.co.uk to book your place or find out more.

This course is being sponsored by Flow MTB so in addition to a great day’s coaching you’ll also get a free Flow goodie bag.

All the skills you learn in the morning will take you seamlessly into riding natural trail sections with some flow, putting the core skills into practice and building your confidence on the bike to push just that little bit harder and enjoy your ride. #findyourflow

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Finding our Flow in Slovenia

Slovenia Ladies MTB Wooden Bridge across Soca River

I was lucky enough to be part of an organized ladies MTB trip to Slovenia. The trip was organised by the lovely Catherine of H&I Adventures and being the one who usually organises all our social rides I was happy to take a back seat and let someone else do all the hard work. There were 6 of us in our group; Audrey, Catherine and Karen who’d had an early start flying down from Edinburgh to meet Alison, Nikki and myself at Stansted airport.

Day 1 – Mountains, Lake and Cake

As our flight approached Ljubljana and the mountains came into view I could feel the excitement build within the group and as we disembarked there were six extremely excited faces. Our guides for the weekend were Danijel and Marko who met us at the airport and their enthusiasm to help from the moment we arrived was superb. With the van loaded our first port of call was to stop off at a local bike shop and build our bikes. With the bikes built we started our journey from Ljubljana to Bovec stopping off for a sunny walk at Lake Bled and some traditional Slovenian cake Kremna Rezina (Bled Cream Cake). With legs stretched we continued our journey to Bovec.

On arrival at our hotel in Bovec we were greeted with a welcome drink and shown to our rooms to drop off our bags and head out to dinner in a traditional Slovenian restaurant where we were served local foods and wines.

Day 2 – Singletrack, Leaves and Wine

As we’d arrived late the night before we had no appreciation of the views that would greet us in the morning, wow the snow-capped mountains looked spectacular!

After breakfast we piled into the van and drove to just within the Italian border.  Our ride started with a long climb up an old Italian road, some parts with snow, that peaked into alpine pastures where we had some amazing views over the whole of the Julian Alps. After a break for lunch we started our 15km descent. I had no expectations about what the descent would be like but it was fun fun fun! Starting out from the alpine pastures into crocus lined trails and down into the woodlands to singletrack where it was evident these trails are not well ridden by the amount of leaves on the trail, it had everything; fast flowing singletrack, switchbacks, roots, rocks, drops. I loved it and so did my bike, it just wanted to go faster and faster.

After the descent we cycled to a local village for refreshments before heading off to cycle along the banks of the emerald Soca river, across wooden bridges and our last trail for the day that lead us down to Kobarid. Tonight’s accommodation was at Hiša Franko a lovely countryside house with the most amazing food. Cooked by Ana we had the 4 course taster menu along with 4 different bottles of wine! Every course was made from local fresh produce, presented beautifully and tasted divine.  We were event treated to a guided tour of their wine cellar and cheese store.

Day 3 – Lush Trails, Singletrack and Wine

I think it’s safe to say that after yesterday’s full day in the saddle bums where a little sore as we started off on a 16km trail of lush green singletrack alongside the Soca river and into local woodlands. After some hot drinks and a snack we headed up the mountain to some newly discovered natural trails with lots of technical features and really tight switchbacks but fortunately no where near as many leaves as the day before! From the descent we headed back to Hiša Franko just as the rain clouds burst to load the van and set off to our next stopover at Medana in the wine region.

On arrival it was time to shower and head to the garden terrace to take in the scenic views of the wine region, sample their orange wine (the wine is made using the skins as well giving it a distinctive orange color), consume more culinary delights and another visit to a wine cellar.

Day 4 – From the Mountains to the Coast

After breakfast it was time to leave the wine region and head for the coast. Today’s MTB adventure started at the foot of the coastal mountain of Slavnik. From here we climbed to the summit hut at 1,028m where Cat was actually blown off her bike! The hut made a welcome break from the wind and we warmed up on traditional Slovenian soup and  gnocchi.  Back into the wind we started our final descent starting with free flowing singletrack that became more and more rocky as we descended, but still with great flow. At the foot of the mountain we weaved our way back through the village to the van.

Disappointment that the biking part of our trip was over was soon forgotten as we drove into the beautiful seaside town of Piran and admired the views across the Adriatic sea. A quick coffee stop turned into a wine stop before we headed back full circle to Ljubljana.

Day 5 – Ljubljana

As our flight back to Stansted wasn’t until mid-afternoon we had the morning to mooch around Ljubljana. This city is ideally situated, 1 hour from the mountains and 1 hour from the sea. It’s also one of Europe’s greenest capitals and the old town is graced with beautiful buildings and architecture. The morning’s adventure took in the Prešeren square, Three Bridges, the open air market that sold an abundance of flowers, fruit and vegetables, a walk up to the castle for a final view of the mountains and lunch alongside the Ljubljanica river.

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Ladies Uplift Morning at Bike Park Wales

Ladies MTB Uplift Morning at Bike Park Wales

I regularly see events on the MTB Diva’s Facebook page for ladies to get together and ride socially in Wales and when I saw the uplift morning at Bike Park Wales (BPW) was organised for a Wednesday, my day off, I booked my uplift ticket! Having been to BPW a couple of times before I knew I’d be in for a fun day on the trails only this time I’d get to spend it with a group of like minded ladies rather than with the guys I usually ride with.

For me it was an early start, the alarm went off at 5.30 am and I was in the van by 6 heading off on my 3 hour journey from Milton Keynes. Arriving at BPW just before 9am to glorious sunshine there were already a few ladies there so I made my way over to say hello. Some of the ladies had met before and already knew each other and even though I didn’t know anyone that didn’t matter as they were all so friendly and I now have some new biking buddies! Time for a quick group photo and we were off to catch the first uplift.

There was lots of chatter and excitement as we went up the hill and we decided to get everyone warmed up we’d all go down the blue runs first – Sixtapod, Willy Waver and Melted Welly. These were familiar trails to me so I was happy to just let the bike go and have as much fun on the way down as I could.

Run 1 down, which one next? A few of us were keen to try the new HotStepper line. To get to this trail you start with the top section of Terry’s Belly down to the fire road then pick up HotStepper. The trail begins with a rock slab drop and quickly enters a narrow flowing section of singletrack. Next you hit a rock garden with three different line choices allowing you to drop, jump and bump your way through. The trail then rejoins Terry’s Belly before splitting again onto a hand cut root fest followed by a series of slab drops, some more tight woods and finally, a dash through the ancient woodland at the bottom.

Run 3 was Vicious Valley into the A470 which starts out with tight wooded singletrack before bursting into the open with rollers, tabletops, step-ups, step-downs and we all got some airtime. We finished the descent on one of my favorites (there’s no rock gardens where I ride) Rim Dinger – don’t you just love the trail names!

Run 4 and we fancied another blast down the blues just because they’re so much fun and proof of this showed on my Strava with plenty of personal bests 🙂

Knowing run 5 would be our last run we decided on Terry’s Belly and HotStepper again being the longest run at the park. Being the second run down I felt much more relaxed taking on HotStepper and hit the drops with much more confidence and before I knew it we were already at the end of the trail and the long pedal back up to the cafe where it was time for a nice cup of tea, cake and some more chatter!

I think the morning worked really well, the group split itself easily into similar riding abilities and those more experienced than me encouraged me down sections I probably wouldn’t have done, thanks Stacey! The uplift guys were really helpful and though on the first uplift we were all really keen to get our bikes on ourselves but by run 5 we were quite happy for them to load the bikes for us.

Big thanks to Helen Matravers for organising, Sarah Wakefield for promoting and Kat Chaplin for the photo. I hope to see some of you again soon and looking forward to the next uplift event, it was awesome.

Anita