Monday, 1 June 2015

Bedgebury Forest mountain bike trails review

On a recent family holiday near Hastings, UK, I Googled "Mountain Bike Trails Hastings" to find something to fill a day with. You can never be too sure what the trails will be like, whether it's tamer than you'd imagine or perhaps too extreme. Fortunately, Bedgebury Forest trails are a good solid red that's as fast and as fun as you make it.

Getting there

Bedgebury Forest is easy to get to from the M25, junction 5 and there's plenty of parking. There's a fire-road right from the car-park which takes you to the start of the trails so it's easy to get stared. Parking is £10 for the whole day, which is pricey for what I usually pay, but £10 on a day out for new trails was worth it. I waste more money than that at the cinema for less fun.

Post code: TN17 3SJ

The car park is a pay-to-leave, so when you rock up, park, get the bike out and get riding. Don't faff with the tickets just yet.

The trails

I didn't see any blue trails whilst I was out, but even the reds, and the one black I rode, were quite tame. If you can ride a regular blue, you can ride a red here.

I did two laps of the red and they took around 45 minutes each. The navigation between the different trails is first rate and it was very obvious where I needed to go next. All the trails have names, but apart from Cardiac, which I only remembered because a few guys were in awe of how difficult it was going to be (it's not that hard), I've since forgotten them.

Actually no, the first trail was called Genesis, but it was closed for repairs (May 2015) so I didn't get a chance to ride it. Oh and I also remember the last trail too, Cake Run, which is aptly named because it takes you right back to the start and towards the awesome café.

Anyway, back to the trails. There's lots of variety here. Hills, flats, tight and twisty, flat out fast and a bunch in between. They've even got rocky sections, which on a tall Cannondale Trigger 29er is more faff than fun. I loved some of the trails; blitzing down the chutes and railed the berms. I had heard the berms were quite small for the speed, but some of them were massive and I had no trouble flooring it and staying gripped in all the way down.

Beginners are welcome

There's not much in the way of jumps along the trail and anything jump worthy can easily be rolled too. Perfect for beginners. In fact, there were a lot of people out with families and kids. Give them space and they're fine. There are plenty of places to over-take and fortunately everyone was kind and wise enough to let me pass once they realised someone was behind them. Oh wait, there was a really odd section that had a few large jumps (3 feet), but they seemed really awkward. You'd have to hit them flat out to take-off from one and land on the other and then repeat it immediately and then straight into a berm. It looked awesome, but I just ended up rolling the jumps. It just didn't make sense in the context of the trail.

The black run

Laughable really. It's not a black run, but I remember reading that they had to classify it as such because there's some 'air-time', which constitutes a black grade. In reality, the 'jumps' are now so worn in that you can easily roll them. Still, it was a fun little chute.

The café

It's a decent job with a great view of the lake and plenty of seating. They also have a tonne of places to plant the bikes so you don't have to lean them up around the place. Nice touch. Food looked nice, but I opted for a cold drink and a delicious ice cream. Pricey like the car park again, but meh, it was ice cream.

Bike hire and store

I didn't go in as the place was heaving, but there's a bike shop there that hires bikes and says it sells equipment. It didn't look massive, but I'm sure they'd sort you out if you had an emergency, or direct you to the nearest bike store. If you just want to get a bike and ride, then this place is perfect. Book in advance though, most bikes were gone when I was there (Bank Holiday weekend mind).

Would I go again?

If I was in the area, sure I would. It's a place where you can get faster and hit the line a little better each time. I'm in doubt that there's probably hidden trails too, so it's worth exploring and asking the bike store for info.

I live a good 90 minutes away, and for me, it's not a place I would specifically travel a 3 hour round trip to go to again. Where I live, Wales is a 4 hour return trip and that makes much better sense.

In summary, definitely worth a ride if you're in the area.