Q:Dear mbr, I’d like to race semi-seriously next season so I’m considering doing a pre-season training camp with a couple of my riding buddies. We’re not bothered about doing anything organised, we just want to go somewhere warm at the end of January/beginning of February to get a week’s riding in. Our top priorities are: proximity to the UK, preferably no more than a three or four hour flight; abundance of trails; warm sunny weather. Have you got any suggestions as to where we should go?
A: Your best bet would be to head down to Southern Spain – Andalucia, or Southern Portugal; both of which have relatively mild and dry weather at that time of year, and both have some decent riding on offer, although you might need a guide to find the best stuff. Check the classifieds at the back of the magazine for companies offering accommodation and guiding.
Q: Hi there, I went to university in Leeds and rode the trails to the north of the city regularly while I was there. I’ve just got a job in Wakefield so I’m about to move back up to the area but I’m pretty clueless about the trails south of the city. I’m still looking for somewhere to live and one of my criteria is the proximity of decent trails for weekday rides. Have you got any suggestions on areas I should be looking at? I’m happy to travel up to 45 minutes to work if the riding’s good when I get home.
A: Whilst Wakefield itself is a little hemmed in, the northern tip of the Peak District isn’t far away and there’s no shortage of top riding there. The northeastern edge of the National Park runs in a line form the outskirts of Huddersfield to the outskirts of Sheffield, so anything along this axis would be good.
ALL I WANT FOR XMAS
Q: I’ve got a week off at Christmas and really want to do some riding. I’d rather not plug through mud all day, and would prefer to avoid snow if at all possible. Any recommendations?
A: There are never any guarantees of the weather in the UK, and things seem even more unpredictable than usual this year. But if I was to going to do some UK riding at this time of year, I’d head to the southwest. The Quantock Hills is probably the best bet, especially for quick drainage; but it’s a small area, and you’d probably cover the best of it in about three days. After that you could squeeze another couple of days out of the Brendon Hills and then move on to Exmoor or even Dartmoor, although the latter two do get a little stickier in the winter.
LOST OF SKIPTON
Q: I’ve recently started to explore some new riding areas in the Yorkshire Dales but I keep getting lost and have really struggled to get back on track. Can you give me any advice on re-locating myself once I realise that I’m no longer where I thought I was.
A: We can try! The first thing to do, if at all possible, is to backtrack to where you last knew where you were. If this is some distance and you’re thinking of carrying on from where you are, then obviously you need to identify on the map exactly where that is. Assuming you’re still on a trail? Then that’s going to narrow things down quite a bit. And if you have a compass, then you can orientate the map i.e. hold it so that north on the map points north on the ground – which should also help. After that, the best thing to do is to survey your surroundings for anything else that could be easily and correctly identified on the map. This could include buildings, roads, trail junctions, woods, ponds, streams, railways, electricity pylons, crags, hilltops, walls or field boundaries, the list is almost endless.
If you’re using a 1:25000 map, then the shape of the fields is shown and this is usually a really good starting place. If you can find three or four different landmarks that all check out, then you’re probably about right. But I’d also make a mental note of what you think should happen next, just to make sure you are definitely on the right track before you go too far. Of course, you could just use a GPS, which will make things a lot easier.