The Shepherd Trail

An easy and fully signed Green Graded 5 Mile/8 Km Forest Trail loop that’s suitable for cyclists of all ages and abilities, beginning and ending at High Lodge Visitor Centre.

The Shepherd Trail is a flat and easy going forest trail through the beautiful High Lodge area of Thetford Forest.  Predominantly making use of the fire roads through the area, this trail is suitable for cyclists of all ages and abilities with no need for any particular type of cycle.

Trail surfaces are firm throughout the year, even in the winter seasons and the scenery can be truly beautiful.  This is an ideal trail for a family cycle ride, even with younger children and there’s event a convenient shortcut about half way round if you want to take things easy.

The Lime Burner Trail

The Lime Burner Trail is a red graded and fully signposted 9 mile/15Km route through the heart of Thetford Forest, starting and ending at High Lodge.

Certainly towards the easier end of the spectrum for Red Graded trails, the Lime Burner can still certainly provide some fun riding through it’s mixture of trails and  named features.  Among these are four missable ‘black’ sections that can be undertaken to switch things up a little.  Again, compared to other trails in the country, these black graded sections are on the easier end of the spectrum, but no less fun for that.

The trail itself provides a nice mix of surfaces and scenery, with tightly packed woodland with natural forest ground to hard packed maintained trails with berms and rollovers.  This, combined with it’s lower difficulty makes it a great trail to use as a training ride for honing skills, ready to take on it’s bigger brothers and sisters in other areas of the country.

Summer Shutdown – 1st to 15th August

Next week, from 1st August, I will be heading over to Cumbria to venture out into the hills for a well earned couple of weeks R&R and will not be returning to work until Monday 15th August.

I’m going to be visiting places like this…

During that time I will be mostly unreachable and will not be checking emails on a regular basis. Over the next week or so, I will be doing my level best to tie up any loose ends and make sure that any preparations are in place for anything taking place during my absence.

And doing lots of this…

I will respond to any enquiries or emails on my return and look forward to speaking with you then.

If you’re interested in seeing what I get up to while away, keep an eye on my Twitter and Instagram for updates.

Tea, Cake & Cycling!

A gathering of the lesser spotted Suffolk Road Safety and Cycling Instructors at Alton Water Park.

With the Covid pandemic having caused so much disruption over the last couple years, and given the very mobile nature of our roles, it’s been quite some time since the Bikeability Instructor Team from Suffolk Roadsafe have been able to properly get together and catch up.

Forcing ourselves away from the cake to go for that ride 🙂

However, we managed to break that spell today and those of us who had no prior engagements were able to meet up at Alton Water to chat, enjoy a (well earned) piece of cake and go for a fantastic group ride around this beautiful venue.

We were also joined by our county representative from Cycling UK and were able to have a very welcome discussion about some other possibilities for getting involved further in community cycling.

It was a fantastic day out and a real pleasure to see everyone. Can’t wait until the next one!

Hit The Downs ’22

I can honestly say that I had a fabulous couple of days on The South Downs last weekend.

Arriving in Graffham in the early part of Saturday afternoon to set camp and have a quiet evening before our busy Sunday showed what a truly beautiful place this area of the UK is.

We let camp early on the Sunday and made our way to Shoreham to get registered and embark on the 30KM route of the St Barnabas House & Chestnut Tree House Hit The Downs 2022.

Whilst (thankfully) the temperatures didn’t make it up to those we’ve experienced over the last couple of days, we weren’t long into the route before we were starting to feel the heat as the sun started to warm everything up .

At the finish (and much warmer than I look!)

My Ride Track

The View From Chanctonbury Ring – Highest point of the route

Although the temperature wasn’t perfect, the lovely clear skies did provide some stunning views and the South Downs really have a lot to offer with beautiful open scenery and delightful woodlands.

The course itself is a mixture of road, bridleway and narrow track with much of it following the South Downs Way.

No matter where we were on the route, the trail surfaces were all very rideable with no nasty surprises, making the the climbs relatively easy and the descents a great deal of fun.

At the Findon Rest Stop – 20KM Point

I’d like to offer a huge thank you to St Barnabas House and Chestnut Tree House for putting so much effort into organising this great event and Marmalade MTB for the huge amount of effort they put into checking and signing the route in the few days leading up to the event itself.

Click the logos to find out more about these organisations

Next year? I think I’m up for 60KM 😁

Support Us

Event though the event is over, if you’d like to support me and these great charities, there’s still time to head on over to my JustGiving page and make a small donation to help us out.

From £1 to £50, every penny counts and will be very gratefully received!

Total Donations So Far

Hit The Downs MTB Is Almost Here!

When I posted back in June that I’d be in the South Downs, taking part in the Hit The Downs MTB event to raise much needed funds for St Barnabas House and Chestnut Tree House in West Sussex, it seemed like such a long way off.

Just a mere few weeks later and the weekend has arrived!

After finishing up with providing some Race Timing Services to a great event tonight (more on that later), I’ll be loading up the van and then getting some well earned sleep, ready to head down South early tomorrow morning so that I can make a weekend of it.

The Challenge

I’m going to be riding 30Km across the South Downs, starting at 9am on Sunday taking us along some of the beautiful roads, trails and bridleways in this stunning countryside.

If you’d like to support me and these great charities, there’s still time to head on over to my JustGiving page and make a small donation to help us out.

From £1 to £50, every penny counts and will be very gratefully received!

Total Donations So Far

“Forest Riders”

With the School Summer Holidays just around the corner, it’s that time of year where keeping your little tykes occupied for a full six weeks can, at times, prove to be a challenging prospect.

Image ©️ Foresty England

So why not get out in the fresh air, grab some exercise and help your youngsters develop their cycling abilities with Forestry England and their excellent new Forest Rider packs!

Primarily aimed at 7-12 year olds, these packs contain a host of resources to help hone your younglings off-road cycling skills and a log book to keep track of their rides and progress.

Skills cards, activities, stickers and a pretty cool neck buff are all included, as well as the chance to solve a puzzle and enter into a competition to win a host of awesome prizes!

The Forest Rider Packs cost just £5 (+ £1.50 Postage if you order them online) and are available at selected Forestry England Sites or from the Forestry England website (link below)

Normal Bike Math

I wasn’t (and still aren’t) entirely sure what inspired this rather unusual piece of engineering when I saw it posted on Twitter yesterday morning:

Upon further investigation (thank you YouTube) it seems the front wheel broke on a kerb impact, so The Q decided to totally re-engineer the rear of the bike.

Regardless of the inspiration behind the thought process, I can’t deny that it’s a creative, unusual and pretty interesting. I suspect it’s probably also quite weird to ride – especially when trying to corner – and I wonder just how much of a concern uneven ground might be.

Anyhow, check out the video below to see how The Q managed to put this together.

Bury St. Edmunds Cycling Activity Day

Last weekend, I was delighted to attend the first Suffolk Cycling Open Day of 2022, hosted by The Way To Go Suffolk and very well supported by We Are Cycling UK.

I attended the day with one of my colleagues on behalf of Suffolk Roadsafe to have a chat or provide advice on Family Cycling and other related subjects. We were also available to provide some additional assistance for the Led Ride into Bury St. Edmunds Town Centre towards the end of the day.

As well as The Way To Go Suffolk, We Are Cycling UK and Suffolk Roadsafe, there were a number of other teams, agencies and companies available at the event.

Bury St. Edmunds Rickshaw were present, along with their new EcoCarriers service, offering free rides on their awesome rickshaw cycles, while Bury St. Edmunds Police were doing free postcode marking to help prevent cycle theft and make it easier to get bikes returned to their rightful owners should the worst happen.

Outspoken Training were providing mechanical checks and services and had their bicycle powered scalextric so that we could have a fun (if slightly unusual) race with each other.

There was also a fantastic range of e-bikes available to try from local companies Eezybike and Spoke and Motor, which a great many of us took the opportunity to have a go on around the event area.

After we’d all had our fill of checking out some of the awesome e-bikes, cycles and activities on offer, it was time for our Led Ride into Bury St. Edmunds town centre to have a very enjoyable cup of tea and a scone.

We Are Cycling UK‘s Suffolk Representative, Nik did a fantastic job in making use of the local cycling infrastructure to lead the ride with the two of us from Suffolk Roadsafe providing some additional assistance to keep us all together and raise visibility to other road users where needed.

Thank you to everyone who was involved in making the day so enjoyable and I hope to see some of you at future events like this!

The Raleigh Pro Cargo Bike

In my work around cycle training in Suffolk and potential upcoming developments in active travel and cycle training, I occasionally get the opportunity to try something a little bit different and explore an aspect of cycling that I wouldn’t ordinarily have the chance to try.

One such recent adventure involved a chance to take a new Raleigh Pro Cargo Bike, on loan from The Way To Go Suffolk, out for a test ride through the streets of Bury St. Edmunds on a very wet and soggy Wednesday afternoon: An experience that I found more enjoyable than I anticipated, despite the less than agreeable weather.

The first thing that struck me was how much bigger the Pro is over my usual rides. It’s certainly much longer and feels broader, although I suspect the latter is psychological due to the cargo box as the handlebars aren’t any wider than a regular bike.

The controls for the electric system are intuitive and I had the bike’s systems operating within a couple of minutes of my initial look round. Unladen, it was easy enough to take off it’s stand to move, although I suspect that fully laden (an extra 75 Kg), that might be a little trickier and perhaps take some getting used to.

Having never had the opportunity to ride a cargo bike of any description before, I spent a good few minutes riding the bike around an empty car park to get a feel for it before venturing out onto the road. I immediately found that both the steering and the electric assist were very responsive, even given it’s additional weight and extra length which is necessary to cater for the electric systems and cargo box.

That excellent responsiveness initially made things feel slightly ‘twitchy’ as I executed my first few tentative turns, but I found that I quickly got used to how it handled and was happily swooping around the rain-swept tarmac with comfort and ease. After I was satisfied that I had a reasonable level of control over things, I then decided that it was time to venture out onto the streets to see what else the Pro had to offer.

Even given the treacherous weather (by this point the steady rain had turned into a downpour) and that the roads were getting busy as we approached rush hour, I still found the Pro a pleasure to ride through the town. Whilst it felt very stable on the wet roads, the Pro was agile enough to negotiate the plethora of roadworks that seemed to have grown overnight and move around into the correct road position amongst the slow moving traffic.

A fair portion of my journey made use of the cycle lanes around the town and the Pro’s additional size did make these sections feel quite narrow, especially those with the pop-up bollards. As I mentioned previously though, I wonder how much of that was psychological given the fair size of the cargo box.

The e-bike’s brakes and tyres performed admirably, even when having to slow while going fairly fast downhill. At one point, I had to perform a ‘Quick Stop’ as a fellow cyclist stopped in front of me with no warning and the Pro gave me a feeling of confidence as I came to a rapid halt. Likewise, the electrical systems feel powerful and responsive, giving the impression that it would be possible to ride all day without overly exerting yourself. Even on the hill climbs back towards where I’d collected the bike, the electric motor did the majority of the heavy lifting, allowing me to enjoy the ride.

Slow speed manoeuvres, like U-Turns, were just as easy, even on narrower roads and I had no trouble getting the bike where it needed to be. However, the one thing that did cause me some issue was the twist grip gear shifter. Whilst it was responsive and smooth, it’s action is reversed from that of a ‘normal’ shifter and I found myself trying to change gear the wrong way on more than one occasion.

Other than the above, the only thing I found that gave me a little trouble was my feet slipping off the pedals in the wet. This could partly be down to the shoes I’d opted to wear given the weather conditions but if I was to purchase a Pro for myself, it’s definitely the one thing that I would opt to swap out very early on.

Overall, I found the Pro a real pleasure to ride with a great deal of grin factor even while in the pouring rain during rush hour. The electrical systems are well designed and intuitive to use, giving a strong “I can do this all day” impression as you ride around town.

  • Intuitive to use
  • Stable, comfortable and easy to ride
  • Electric systems are powerful and responsive
  • Twist Shift gears take getting used to
  • Pedals seem slippery in the wet
  • Possibly hard to manually move when laden by riders with smaller stature.
Thank you to The Way To Go Suffolk for the loan of the Raleigh Pro Cargo Bike