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Guest Blog – Ladies do DH

Ever fancied giving downhill a go? Ladies do DH was started by Amanda Tanfield in 2017 to encourage more ladies into downhill from beginners to those starting out in racing. The group has grown into a social community with monthly rides and for 2018 the first ladies only downhill race at the Forest of Dean.

Amanda Berry joined the Ladies do DH for their monthly ride in May, here’s how she got on

I’ve wanted to join one of the Ladies do DH days for a long time now but could never get over my anxieties of what the other women would be like, would my riding level hold them back, would I be way out of my comfort zone… the usual stuff a lot of us stress about but this time I made the decision to give it a go and stick to it!

I met up with the ladies in the morning for a cuppa at the Pedalabikeaway cafe and everyone was so friendly introducing themselves which immediately put me at ease.

The day started off by having a go on the drops line, and then we went onto berms then onto a line of jumps. I was put even more at ease as it was so chilled; just a bunch of women chatting, laughing and riding.

We then headed to the top of the trails to play on the Sheepskull run. Amanda had changed this from Cougar Roots for me as I wasn’t ready to face my nemesis having crashed on it 2 months previous.  We played on the berm section at the top which was good fun then went onto the roots.

Amanda got us to do the trail in sections which was really helpful as you get to session the sections. I watched the other women having a go at straight-lining the roots; some were doing it for the first time which was incredible and everyone was cheering each other on, it was so nice to be part of this.

It was at this point that I started to panic a bit as I knew the steep shoot onto the fire road was next. All the women were on the fire road waiting for me but I froze, I have ridden this so many times before but I am going through a real confidence crisis with my riding at the moment in that everything scares me. Amanda just kept talking to me, installing a confidence into me that I could do it, so I trusted her and down the shoot I went. I was greeted with cheers from all the ladies. I then had to face the shoot into the next section of trail. Again I froze but again, I wasn’t left behind.  Amanda was stood at the bottom talking to me, I told her I was going to push down it but she told me to trust myself and didn’t let up with the encouragement. I was panicking over holding the ladies up again and feeling silly but with Amanda’s encouragement I went for it and made it down to be greeted with high fives and loads of smiles from all the ladies who were genuinely pleased for me.

I started the day full of anxieties but I left having made a lot of new friends and a feeling of accomplishment. I have talked myself out of joining one of these days so many times before, making all the excuses I could think of but taking part has squashed my anxieties and preconceived ideas of what it would be like to join in one of these days and I can honestly say I am really looking forward to being part of the next one.


Ladies do Downhill Race, Forest of Dean

Ever fancied giving downhill racing a go? Ladies do Downhill have organised the first ladies only downhill race at the Forest of Dean on Sunday 15th July.

We pleased to announce that Flow MTB will be supporting the first ladies only downhill race organised by Ladies do DH at the Forest of Dean on Sunday 15th July.

The race is aimed at those looking to give downhill racing a go and all features will have a roll-able option. Come along and meet other riders Friday evening for a pasta party/BBQ. Saturday morning starts with a track walk and you’ll be able to session the track ready for race day.

Race entry is £27 plus £1 application fee bookable via the British Cycling website with categories for all age groups. Prizes for top 3 in each category plus a glass of bubbles and stickers from Ladies do DH for everyone who enters.

Categories:

  • Ripper Age 10-12
  • Juvenile Age 13-14
  • Youth – Age 15-16
  • Junior – Age 17-18
  • Senior – Age 19-29
  • Master – Age 30-39
  • Veteran – Age 40+
  • Grand vet – Age 50+

Find out more about Ladies do DH on Facebook: Ladies do DH / Instagram: ladiesdodh

Have you got a story to share?

Attended a skills course and want to let others about the new skills you learnt? Entered a race and want to shout how well you and all the other ladies did? Taken part in an MTB event, holiday, social ride and think others would enjoy reading about your experience too? Maybe you’re organising an event and want to publicise it to more female riders or maybe you just want to share all the benefits mountain biking brings to you.

We’re looking for guest bloggers to write interesting stories for our website. Whether you’re new to mountain biking or a seasoned rider, if you’ve got something you’d like to share that may help promote and encourage more women into mountain biking we want to hear from you. Any blog chosen to be published on our website and we’ll send you a voucher for future use at Flow MTB, find our more here.

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Guest Blog – Mountains and Memories

Ever fancied exploring what the Afan Valley has to offer on two wheels? After getting back into mountain biking after her children grew up Jane Clemence found Mountains and Memories and has now joined several of their group rides. Jane’s written us a guest blog post to share her experience with you…

I’ve always loved cycling and had mountain biked a little when my children were small. More recently my husband and I tended to do more touring and long distance road trips. This was about to change, the children had grown up and I started looking at mountain bikes and in December 2016 I bought myself a hardtail mountain bike.

I had a couple of rides at the Forest of Dean but didn’t really know where else to go or any real mountain bike techniques. Whilst on Facebook one evening a group for ladies enjoying mountain biking caught my eye so I decided to message Sarah and I asked about rides that were suitable for a novice. Sarah contacted me and within 24 hours I was encouraged to join my first guided ride.

The scenery was stunning, the setting was wonderful and the weather was kind. Sarah instilled an amazing confidence in my limited ability and she had so much knowledge of the local area. Three fun filled hours later I felt like an Olympic medalist after climbing and negotiating my way on fire roads and trails at Afan Argoed. I have returned for numerous rides since and have never failed to enjoy it even when the wind/rain/snow and hail came, Sarah tailored the rides to be sheltered but still great fun.

I have recommended the rides to many friends and look forward to my next adventures with Mountains and Memories.

Mountains and Memories provides friendly guided rides for women of all abilities in and around the stunning Afan Valley, South Wales.

Mountains and Memories guide Sarah is local to the area, a qualified British Cycling mountain bike level 2 guide and holds a valid outdoor level 3 first aid certificate.

Guided rides are carefully planned, pre-ridden and assessed to meet rider needs and skills. Each group is run with a maximum of 8 riders of similar abilities. Mountains and Memories offer a range of packages from half day to full day and even hen do’s with a difference!

Email: mountainsandmemories@gmail.com
Website: www.mountainsandmemories.co.uk
Facebook: mountainsandmemories
Instagram: mountainsandmemories

Full day rides
Up to 6 hours of riding
£45 per person based on a minimum of 3 people, lunch included

Half day rides
Up to 4 hours of riding
£30 per person based on a minimum of 2 riders

Family ride
2 hours of riding suitable for all the family
£40 for a family

Children’s activity rides (Guides, Scouts, schools, etc.)
3 hours of riding
£25 per child based on a minimum of 5 children, supervising adult rides free

Georide (geocaching by bike!)
5 hours of riding and geocaching
£45 per person based on a minimum of 3 people, lunch included

Hen do’s with a difference!
Up to 4 hours of riding
£45 per person based on a minimum of 4 people
A ride, photo shoot with your besties on bikes and afternoon lunch with bubbles

all prices correct at time of publication, April 2018

Have you got a story to share?

Attended a skills course and want to let others about the new skills you learnt? Entered a race and want to shout how well you and all the other ladies did? Taken part in an MTB event, holiday, social ride and think others would enjoy reading about your experience too? Maybe you’re organising an event and want to publicise it to more female riders or maybe you just want to share all the benefits mountain biking brings to you.

We’re looking for guest bloggers to write interesting stories for our website. Whether you’re new to mountain biking or a seasoned rider, if you’ve got something you’d like to share that may help promote and encourage more women into mountain biking we want to hear from you. Any blog chosen to be published on our website and we’ll send you a voucher for future use at Flow MTB, find our more here.

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Alpine Adventure 2017

Flow MTB Alpine adventure 2017 Chatel, Pila, Crans Montana

Flow MTB in partnership with MTB Instruction and Magic Transfers are running a ladies week in the Alps this summer from 5-12th August, 2017.

Based in Chatel the trip includes transfers to/from Geneva, accommodation with breakfast and evening meal.

The rides will be a mix of downhill parks and gravity trails in and around Chatel (Morzine, Les Gets, Monthey) along with two planned day trips to Pila, Italy and Switzerland.

The group size is limited to 10.  Cost per person is £595 plus your flights and lift passes. For more information email anita@flowmtb.co.uk

Accommodation

Catered chalet in Chatel with hot tub and secure bike storage.

Breakfast, evening meals and drinks are included.

Transfers

Transfers to and from Geneva airport; pickup date Saturday 5 August, drop off Saturday 12 August 2017.

Planned itinerary

  • Day 1 – Arrival and warm up in Chatel bike park
  • Day 2 – Lift assisted rides in Pass’portes Du Soleil
  • Day 3 – Lift assisted rides in Pass’portes Du Soleil
  • Day 4 – Lift assisted rides in Pass’portes Du Soleil
  • Day 5 – Day trip to Pila
  • Day 6 – Lift assisted rides in Pass’portes Du Soleil
  • Day 7 – Lift assisted rides in Pass’portes Du Soleil
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Guest Blog – Can’t Buy Me Love: Eight Days in California

I’m following a string of riders through the Nevada desert, dodging cacti – which I keep forgetting cannot be treated with the same complacency as the vegetation back home – and plunging in and out of craters. I have more energy than I had an hour ago because I can see Blue Diamond, the one horse town we pedaled away from this morning. Baked by the 80 degree heat and dizzy from an altitude to which I am not accustomed, I am in love. I want to do this every day; kicking up the dust, surrounded by rock faces, some the colour of dried blood, pummeling the trail on my full suss bike with a group who have smiles much wider than mine. Like Thelma and Louise (I’ve been mindful of my old time heroines for the past 48 hours because the wide open scenery is so evocative of their journey) I just want to ‘keep going’.

When I started mountain biking I had few expectations. I had no idea how much it would cost me and where it would take me. The cost is ferocious and relentless, driven partly by keeping up and partly by things breaking down. And then there are the events and the adventures. I’ve had some fantastic experiences. But no matter how much I paid, I could never have bought the experience I was having at that moment.

‘You should come over.’ Darryl, the whooping, hollering, gay-pirate-costume-wearing cafe owner and coffee snob, just laid it out there. He’d joined our local MTB club the summer before and became a permanent fixture on my boyfriend’s Sunday evening ride. Except when he was in America. We did not take him seriously at first, he hardly knew us (and we had no idea about those pirate outfits). But for Darryl I think the fact that we rode mountain bikes was enough, so he kept on and in time we gratefully accepted. Now, pedaling towards Blue Diamond after a 26 mile ride we were on day 3 of our adventure. Richard and Phil sleeping on air beds on the floor of Darryl and Angela’s motor home, while Dave and I were the guests of David and Gwen in their frighteningly spotless San Dimas home.

Day after arrival: do they know what they are getting into?

Gwen and David had agreed to put up two odd strangers from the UK. The only apparent reason (we briefly entertained the idea that we would be imprisoned and sold into the sex industry) being mountain biking. Since I slung my leg over the saddle of my Gary Fisher and joined my local club the social nature of the sport has not ceased to inspire me. But this was a giant leap of faith on their part and one for which we were supremely grateful. Even now, when I know there is a chance that David and Gwen might read this post, I am at a loss to find the words or a gesture to convey my thankfulness.

Day 3: are they starting to regret it yet?

Throughout our stay the worry that they might just regret having made the offer never quite left me. When we arrived at gone 22:00 (way past their bedtime, I was to learn) bleary eyed, creased and dehydrated from LAX. When we kept them waiting on the baking asphalt outside the Silverton Casino, Las Vegas, ready to ride the Cowboy Trail (we were only beginning to realise how organised David and Gwen are). When we staggered in late from the Palm Canyon epic stoked and speechless and even later from riding the Santiago Truck Trail and refueling at an outdoor pizzeria while Mark, an LA cop of 27 years, shared his theory on why there never will be world peace*. All the while (save the time spent in Vegas) Gwen and David were trying to maintain their ’rise at 05:00’ routine.

During eight days Darryl was tireless in trying to show us all the riding possible. From the Cottonwood Valley Trail System and the rock scrambling and the cacti wresting of the Cowboy at Vegas, to the merciless desert of the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains above Palm Springs where the Palm Canyon Trail winds the steep hill sides and valley floors, taking you down back to town; that is if you are strong enough to bear the heat, the three mile uphill slog through the sand wash and the exposure on the narrow hillside paths above Cathedral City. He showed us riding like we had never seen before, in land that stretched away in all directions without human interference, a dusty, alien contrast against bright blue skies and with the crocked crown of the Los Angeles sky line often visible far far away.

On that day riding out of Blue Diamond, climbing up the ‘three mile smile’ (you get the smile when you come down) and over towards Wilson’s Tank we came across wild Mustangs – a mare, her foal and a stallion – pulling at the scrub. ‘I’ve been riding here for 10 years,’ Gwen said after the sighting, as we looked from the tank back towards Vegas, ‘and I’ve never seen them, not until today.’ I thought of how the mare’s ribs moved beneath her dun coloured coat, how she looked worn rather than majestic, how desert life must be hard on the Mustangs. All the same I tried hard to photograph them, comforted in some way by their presence because at the beginning of the trip I had received the sad news that my mum’s own horse had died.

We saw lizards, hawks, parrots and deer but luckily the mountain lion did not show his face. They are a real risk in California. Signs in local wilderness parks warn that sightings should be reported to local law enforcement. At Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park, which we hurtled through at sundown, visibility reduced to shades of grey, there is a curfew. If you are there after sundown the rangers will take your bikes. I’m sure there is a good reason for this. During that sketchy descent, taken through clouds of dust flung up from beautifully curved berms, I am not sure if we were more scared of lions or the risk of losing our bikes.

No amount of money could have helped acquire these things. They were given to us by David and Gwen, Darryl and Angela (who looked slightly discomfited at Phil and Richard’s eagerness to return quite so soon), Paul, who drove us to and from Palm Canyon and pulled us through it in temperatures of 90 degrees and all the other riders we were able to spend the week with. Add to that my desire to pedal, which waxed and waned, drawn by tiredness or fear or self doubt or the wonder and the competitive streak that keeps me going. Money could not buy the rubber duck I stuffed into my bag, fallen fruit from the ducky Joshua Tree in the Cottonwoods, or the bullet casings I pocketed at Wilson’s Tank. ‘What is being shot?’ I asked, fingering the solid wall, thinking about the Mustangs. ‘Bottles mainly,’ David and Michael gestured towards the shards of brown, green and clear glass blinking at the sun from amongst the scrub. Money could not buy the intense satisfaction of milkshake chased by a huge icy coke from the Carl’s Jnr fast food joint once we were safely down from Palm Canyon, exhausted and electrified. And it could not buy Darryl’s passion for biking, this place and life – ‘I’ve had two near death experiences and goddamn it, I am glad to be alive!’ – or the delicate beginnings of a relationship with David and Gwen (although we are still managing to wake them from across the Atlantic so who knows how long that will last).

The legend is there was once an overhanging branch for which you had to duck!

Those eight days in America left a mark in me. That has no price tag.

*And neither has wisdom. In case you were wondering, according to Mark, there will never be world peace for two reasons; one, there are people who do not flush toilets; two, there are people who need to be there – where they cannot be – because they want to be or feel they are entitled to be and to hell with whatever emergency is happening there, they need to be there, right now. This is what 27 years in the LAPD teaches you, I guess.

Thanks to Jo for sharing her trip to California. It’s amazing where a shared love of mountain biking can take you. You can follow Jo on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/keepthepenmoving/

Have you got a story you’d like to share?

Whether you’re new to mountain biking or a seasoned rider, if you’ve got something you’d like to share that may help promote and encourage more women into mountain biking we want to hear from you. Any blog chosen to be published on our website will be credited to you and we’ll send you a voucher for future use at Flow MTB. All you need to do is write up your content, include some photos and send it to features@flowmtb.co.uk.

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Guest Blog – Finale Ligure Italy

Following an impulse purchase a week before our holiday, it was now Monday the 20th of February and my new YT Capra had just arrived, weighing around 14kg and delivered at 9.23 am I was totally in love. Following a quick build up, sag set, and roll around the car park it was time to dismantle it, pack it into the box on the back of the van and bid farewell to Dorset as we headed for Finale.

Having only made the jump from my trusty On One hardtail to a full suspension Lush in October I spent the 800 or so mile trip, ferry crossing and a day in the half of driving in the van feeling nervous and excited but mostly nervous about riding a new bike, in a new place and all whilst trying to keep up with my husband and our trail dog and travel companion George, the crazy Labradoodle.

We had decided to stay on a campsite for this trip, as our usual free camping approach is much more suited for our surf holidays then building up bikes and getting hot and sweaty negotiating mountain trails. The campsite was situated right near the start of some of the 24 hour Finale trails and some All Mountain, Enduro and Downhill routes (plus fresh cakes, bread and pizza were available everyday on site, sweet!)

We took it in turns to build up our bikes and went out for a couple of hours ride before sun set to see what we had let ourselves in for!

On day two we checked out some of the trails from the evening before, these were all part of the 24 hour finale xc route. The loose rocks made for an interesting start, I lowered my tyre pressure but suffered a puncture on the second trail, although the wheels are tubeless ready there hadn’t been time to sort this, so I changed my tube with a view overlooking the sea, if your going to get a puncture then a nice view takes the sting out of the snake bite!

The ups are as challenging as the downs in Finale, and I was finding them a real struggle. Watching my husband shoot on up them made me more determined and I set a goal in my mind to try as much on the downs as on the ups! We took a trail called ‘Manie’ into Noli for lunch, it started well for me with little drops, big rocks and flowing as it headed into the trees. Half way down I was faced with a massive drop, I had to negotiate my bike down it, and hop back on to finish the trail. It got more technical the lower we got, but the Capra seemed to have inspired some confidence and I made my way over some tricky sections with a new found ease, that was until I hit a post with my bars, wide bars are new to me, luckily bramble bushes broke my fall off to the side of the mountain and after a few giggles we carried on into town.

After a huge bowl of pasta we made our way through town to find the up route, after looking lost for some time, a local stopped and got out their car to show us the way. As we started to climb we thought perhaps the guy was having a laugh but sure enough it was the way up! Fuelled on pasta we cycled, pushed, cycled some more and then popped out back near the campsite. We then decided to take an Enduro route back down the other side on the mountain, ‘Dh Donne’ this was the most challenging route I had ever done, it was fast, huge ruts, loose, edged along the mountain and featured some large drops. I was disappointed in how I was handling the trail but my husband was grinning from ear to ear. As I looked out over the mountain to the sea below, I thought this is epic! The fact I could only ride half of it didn’t matter!

Day 3 we warmed up on some of the 24 Finale trails as you can make them into a nice loop and then decided to take another Enduro route down the mountain. Dh Donne alternative starts the same as Dh Donne but then splits off to the right to a much narrower trail, again edged along the mountainside and in places only just wide enough for the bike. It is less rocky then Dh Donne but still as challenging. The afternoon we decided to explore an Enduro trail over the road from the campsite. It was fantastic with a flowy start and straight into the woods. It had some rock garden sections, tight corners, steep sections and two big drops. I managed to ride almost half of the trickier features of the trail and was determined to tackle more of it next time! The climb back up was steep, but this was day 3 and time to push myself, overtaking the husband was a bonus 🙂

On days 4, 5 and 6 we decided to tackle some of the same trails we had done on the days before and with each attempt I got better along with increased confidence. We found some more 24 Finale trails that looped back on themselves and a great fast bermy trail that lead us right back to the campsite. We did a few more runs into town for lunch and the technical climbs got easier the more I did. Apart from day 6 when my legs were tired and needed a rest, and a beer!

Whilst we were in Finale, my friend text to ask how I was getting on, I said ‘had a great morning challenging myself but wimped out on a lot of stuff in the afternoon’ she replied ‘it’s not called wimping out, it’s called saving that challenge for later’ (cheers Jess) she’s totally right. You don’t have to be the quickest rider, the one doing the biggest drops or getting air on jumps, you just need to challenge yourself, push yourself when you can, push your bike if you have to (and push I did on some of the crazy stuff my husband was flying over) but you do have to remember to enjoy the ride. Finale reminded me of this, all with epic trails, challenges, views and great food as a bonus!

We didn’t opt for any uplifts whilst we were there as we like to involve our doggy as much as we can, but the €5 trail map gives you a great idea of what’s available and how everything links in.

So why Finale and why the new YT Capra? Well back in January I brought a ticket to a crazy downhill race, so I’ve got 4 months to go from Megaaverage to Megaavalanche , wish me luck!

Thanks to Carly for sharing her trip to Finale Ligure and good luck with the Megaavalanche, we’re sure you’ll be Megaamazing and we can’t wait to read all about it.

Have you got a story you’d like to share?

Whether you’re new to mountain biking or a seasoned rider, if you’ve got something you’d like to share that may help promote and encourage more women into mountain biking we want to hear from you. Any blog chosen to be published on our website will be credited to you and we’ll send you a voucher for future use at Flow MTB. All you need to do is write up your content, include some photos and send it to features@flowmtb.co.uk.

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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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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

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Slippery When Wet

Aston Hill Dakine 100% Goggles Flow MTB Instruction

Aston Hill for me is always a challenge; it’s steep, technical, rooty and has some features I won’t even attempt.  As we drove over on Good Friday the sun was shining and I was looking forward to some skills sessions in the park stupidly forgetting the heavy downpour from the night before.  Aston Hill in the wet is slippery, really slippery, so slippery I fell over pushing my bike up the hill!

Ever since I crashed in Les Gets and cracked my ribs on a set of banked berms I’ve struggled with them mentally and there are two berms at Aston Hill that have become a nemesis for me. They’re steep, banked and chalky. To try and overcome my fear I had Mark from MTB Instruction with me and had set him the challenge of getting me around the berms. Prior to the berms we’d had slippery roots and slippery mud but now as I faced the wet chalky berms I was starting to wonder how MTB had become my chosen sport! But hey, I love a challenge and fortunately Mark came with lots of patience and after many failed attempts and lots of encouragement I finally made it round the berms.

Mark took lots of photos throughout the day so he could review my technique with me. My recommendation of the day; wear 100% goggles with tinted lenses, they hide the look of fear in your eyes.

100% Accuri goggles, Dakine Mode shorts, Dakine Aura Glove, Dakine Xena 3/4 sleeve jersey

#flowmtbapparel, #ride100%, #dakine, #ridelikeagirl, #MTBInstruction

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New Kit and New Bike Day

Flow MTB ION Product Review

Not only was it new kit day it was also new bike day, what more could a girl ask for! With the purple “bling-tastic” Meta AM loaded it was an early start as we set off on our journey to the Forest of Dean and as the sun started warming the morning haze away I knew we’d be in for an amazing day.

As we started unloading the van I could see the girl next to us checking us out. Was it my husband or the shiny new bike she was admiring? Neither, it was the ION cerise pink shorts!

Warming up on the Verderer’s trail was familiar territory. I love this trail, non-techy climbs and fast flowing descents. The new bike felt great and the larger wheel size and 11 speed cassette made the climbs easier; and I hate climbing! The ION kit felt good on the trails and the water repellent treatment on the shorts kept them from soaking up the unavoidable splashes.

After lunch we swapped to our DH lids and headed over to session the “Corkscrew”. The loose fit of the 3/4 sleeve ION jersey meant it fitted easily over my slightly bulky Fox elbow pads. The bike felt great over the technical trails and I didn’t want the day to end, but end it did and we decided to finish off on a high octane whaaaa-hooo down “Launch Pad”.

The ION kit is one of the more expensive brands we sell but the technology that goes into their kit makes it worth the money. The kit looks good and fits really well and more importantly it felt good on the trails. The shorts are long enough to go over the top of knee pads, they didn’t catch on the saddle when getting back behind it for techy descents and they have a nice stretchy feel. The top was long enough at the back so I didn’t get any draughts up it and the high moisture wicking of the drirelease® kept me dry, cool and comfortable.

Bike 10/10 + Kit 10/10 = An awesome day on the trails and one very happy lady!

#IONProducts https://flowmtb.co.uk/brands/ion/

ION shorts, ION jersey, 100% gogglesDakine Aura Glove

#flowmtbapparel, #IONProducts, #ride100%, #ridelikeagirl, #MTBInstruction