Don’t sack off riding when the weather gets nasty. Instead dress right, adopt a positive mental attitude and pick from one of our weather-proof mountain bike routes
When the rain is pouring down it can be hard to motivate yourself to head out for a ride, especially if you’re trying to avoid muddy trails and miserable conditions. But there are trails that offer the winning combination of great riding and relatively sheltered conditions, so you can still get out for a spin while avoiding the worst the weather can throw at you.
The right kit can also help make wet weather more bearable. Invest in the best waterproof jacket you can find, and waterproof mountain bike trousers are also worth their weight in gold when it’s raining hard. Winter riding boots offer more protection for the feet, and don’t forget the mudguards for your bike!
1. Cannock, the Midlands
Distance: 32.3km (21.2 miles)
Unless gale force winds are in effect, retreating to the woods is a good idea. Cannock on the northern edge of Birmingham not only has plenty of trees to provide shelter but the sandy trails also drain pretty well, making this a good place to hide and ride. Best known for its trail centre it’s also possible to piece together a ride without depending on trail markers. Use our route and mix and match it with other trails to build a route that suits you and the weather and make the most of the trail centre’s café for post-ride hot chocolates.
2. Mosedale, North West
Distance: 32.9km (20.4 miles)
Taking shelter from the elements isn’t easy in the Lake District, a place that seems to attract the extremes of weather. This route will keep you, mostly, out of the worst that the Cumbrian weather can throw at you. Keeping to the edges of the Skiddaw massif before cutting through the middle of it to Skiddaw House, you can appreciate the fells without over-committing to them. Along the way you’ll be treated to Whitewater Dash waterfall which, conditions depending, may be living up to its name.
3. Mugdock, Scottish Central Belt
Distance: 27.3km (17.0 miles)
Taking the low road in Scotland is a good idea when things go from braw to raw. If the weather has gone beyond merely dreich (think being stuck in a low cloud) and it’s blowing a hoolie there are still plenty of options for riding, no high lands required. Starting just outside Glasgow in the famous Mugdock country park, this ride will take you from the city to countryside on easy to navigate and weather-proof trails — in fact this route is a great beginner’s ride, whatever the weather.
4. Quantocks, South West
Distance: 19.2km (11.9 miles)
The Quantocks have their fair share of weather-battered summits and exposed open heathland but the creases, crevices and combes that make up its topology also provide protection from whatever might be coming off the Bristol Channel, you just need to pick the right trails. This is one of our favourite Quantock routes, partly because of the variety of trails and terrain, but feel free to adapt it to provide maximum cover from the prevailing wind, rain, sleet, snow…
5. Dorking, South East
Distance: 41.1km (25.5 miles)
Crap conditions make it tempting to keep riding to splash and dash missions, knocking out a quick ride before calling it quits and heading for home. But once you’re out, soaked through and covered in mud you might as well stay out for as long as possible. This 41km route across Surrey may be longer than you’d think a bad-weather ride should be, but with plenty of tree cover, trails that hold up well in the rain and plenty of escape options you can play out as long as you like.
Want to improve your riding skills? Check out our Technique section with expert advice from pro coaches and riders.