Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 April, I spent in Prudhoe and Blanchland, Northeast England, completing my Expedition module training of the SMBLA accredited courses, under the able guidance of Neil Slater from cycle4adventure. This is an add on module which allows both Trail Cycle Leaders and Mountain Bike Leaders to guide entirely self-supported groups of mountain bike riders on multi-day trips in their respective terrain (TCL or MBL).
Day one was mainly classroom based and involved discussing equipment, primarily trailers and camping gear, but also food and other necessities. Setting up and packing up camp was also practised. A short test ride with trailers followed and plans made for the guided ride the next day.
A 9 o’clock start from Blanchland, a picturesque medieval village set in a valley nestled in the north-eastern Pennines accessed by steep approach roads, was the setting for the start of the ride. Trailers were hooked up to the bikes and loaded with all the gear and off we set. After a 3/4 hour ride up over the fell and into the woods, Neil and I found a comfortable spot to set up camp and cook lunch. After we refueled, the camp was packed up again and we set off to ride some single track, our trailers still in tow. The trailers easily took everything in their stride and even descending steep technical single track was not a problem for either bike or trailer. We were both using “extra wheel” trailer set-ups. Eventually the fun came to an end when we reached the car park in Blanchland again and had to unpack and decouple the trailers. After some more discussion we called it a day. I must say, this was some of the best fun I have had on a mountain bike, even though it was slightly more work uphill lugging 15-20kg extra.
I look forward to undertaking the assessment in early August and more mountain bike tech discussions with Neil. An update will follow once completed.