... News - Broken Riders


25% OFF EVERYTHING NEXT WEEKEND! November 20 2015, 0 Comments

Black Friday is fast approaching. Are you ready? Are you looking for a new top-quality mtb inspired gear at a 25% discount price? Then head on over to brokenridersuk.com and grab some Broken Riders gear for an incredible 25% less than normal retail price!

This awesome sale is only open from 00.01GMT Friday 27th November 2015 to 23.59GMT 29th November 2015. After that, everything goes back to their regular price.

Just use code BF2015 at checkout* to get 25% discount on anything at brokenridersuk.com

And don't forget, every order gets a bunch of awesome free stickers! So what more do you want? Get Broken next weekend over at brokenridersuk.com
*Use this code at the final checkout, after you've gone through PayPal

New Broken Riders reflective stickers October 13 2015, 1 Comment

We've been working with our friends at Harvey Lloyd Screens to produce some new reflective Broken Riders logo stickers. Screen printed onto clear vinyl, these stickers are going to be perfect for riding during the coming dark winter nights - especially if you stack it off the trail and your mates are trying to find you in the ditch!

The sticker is 100% percent durable as it's hand screen printed with a white base and then printed over that with small glass beads mixed into the silver ink to reflect the light.

I haven't tried it out on the trail yet (I'll be doing that tomorrow night), but a quick test in the back garden proved the sticker to be really effective.

We plan to give these stickers away FREE to any customer placing an order over £15 (excluding shipping). Unfortunately this only applies to orders placed at brokenridersuk.com.

Big thanks to Steve and Tracey at Harvey Lloyd Screens for their persistence with this. It wasn't an ordinary request, and this is the first time they've printed anything reflective!

Do you MTB? October 04 2015, 0 Comments

It seems like an all consuming passion. Every waking moment, every nano-second of spare time, every spare synapse. Every thought gravitates towards thinking about mountain biking.

When we wake, our first action is to look out of the bedroom window, looking upwards to see what the day's weather holds in store, thinking about how we would ride in the conditions. We do this even when we're not riding.

When it rains, we think about how the weather will affect the trails. Will we be able to do the night ride this week or will it be too slippery in the dark? Will those rain-soaked roots claim the grip that your tyres offer in the dry? 

When the sun shines, we wonder how much faster we'll be able to rip down the trail, almost tasting the dust kicked up by your mate's rear tyre as you follow him down a fast section, almost riding blind through shafts of light and clouds of loam particles.

When it's windy, we despair.

When we're at work, we choose to sit and eat in front of our computer, just so that we can check out some mountain biking websites and salivate over components or clothing rather than the food we're consuming.

When we lay in bed at night, sleep rolling over us, we dream of nailing that gap jump without any fear or anticipation. We're king of the hill, master of the slopes, mastering turns and forming shapes in the air as we dream the perfect ride. 

MTB. We do. Do you? 


5 Reasons Why MTB Is More Fun Than Road Cycling February 19 2015, 0 Comments

Anyone who rides a mountain bike knows that they've made the right choice. Okay, some mountain bikers do ride road bikes, but we all know they do it solely for fitness.

So here's 5 reasons why mountain biking is better than road cycling.*

1. Mountain bikers talk to each other
Ever been at the back of the road cycling peloton? It ain't fun. All you get to see is the lycra-clad backsides of those faster than you. Because road cycling is all about the climbs, everyone is racing to the top of the hill, heads down in serious concentration with no thought or encouragement given to those at the back. Can't keep up? Tough. And then, when you do finally get to the top, everyone munches silently on their carb gels, quietly mulling over the approaching terror of having to ride their unstable, narrow-tyred machines down hill at speed.

PHOTO: hawleycompany.net

Mountain bikers, on the other hand, use the uphills as a chance to have a decent life-affirming chat, pull wheelies and generally muck about. So much more fun. And if you are at the back, those at the front spot an excuse to stop and have a breather, and to either offer encouragement for your efforts or to take the piss out of your slow speed. Either way, hilarity ensues.

PHOTO: goskyride.com

2. Mountain bikers get to wheelie
There are only a few people on this planet who can successfully wheelie a road bike. So, if you're not Peter Sagan, or a kid from a council estate, getting the front wheel of a road bike off the ground is always going to be a big challenge. As is keeping it in the air once it's up.

PHOTO: getreading.co.uk

However, if you're on a mountain bike, you can have a go at popping the front wheel at every opportunity. Tree root? Pop a wheelie. Mini drop off? Pop a wheelie. In the car park, getting bored of waiting for your mates to get ready? Pop a wheelie. The possibilities to get the front wheel off the ground and have tons of fun are endless.

PHOTO: mountainbike-magazin.de

3. Mountain bikers breathe in fresh air, not pollution
Cycling on the roads is dangerous. Buses, trucks, cars - all plotted by angry motorists intent on wrapping you and your bike around their wheels. And all the time, you're breathing in the silent and invisible killer; pollution.

But mountain bikers get to breathe in tonnes of fresh air, filling their lungs with the sweet scent of forests and mountains. What could be healthier than the cool, evening air of the forest, with only the fine dust of forest loam to encroach on its purity? The worst that can happen is your mate, riding in front of you runs over some sheep crap and you forget to close your mouth...

PHOTO: basquemtb.com

4. Mountain bikers get to do skids
One of the greatest pleasures of riding a bike is skidding. It was one of the first things we learnt as kids, hammering down the path, riding for the first time without stabilisers. Ever tried to do a skid on a road bike? Here's what happens...

PHOTO: velonews.competitor.com

Yank on the back brake of a mountain bike however, and your world is filled with childhood memories of impressive power slides, and the air is filled with a gratifying shower of dust, stones or mud as your back wheel carves one of the finest arcs known to physics!

PHOTO: wolisphoto.com

5. Mountain bikers have fun - whatever the weather
Finally, here's fundamental reason why mountain biking is better than road cycling. Mountain biking is just so much more fun than road cycling. Have you ever seen the faces of road cyclists when it's wet? Not fun.

PHOTO: reinardtvanrensburg.wordpress.com

And here's the face of someone who's just ridden their mountain bike, not only in the rain, but through the mud and gloop of a well-worn trail.

PHOTO: adventure-journal.com

So, when it comes to fun, mountain biking beats road cycling in every aspect. Now get out on your mountain bike, get muddy, pull a skid and have some fun!

*This is aimed purely at those road cyclists who take themselves too seriously and have forgotten that we ride bikes because it makes us feel good!


Why Peaty's Bike Bonanza could change the bike industry for ever November 03 2014, 0 Comments

So I found myself heading north this weekend to Sheffield, to take part in the first ever 'Peaty's Bike Bonanza', held at Ponds Forge Leisure Centre in Sheffield. The brainchild of mountain bike legend Steve Peat, over 50 vendors, both businesses and individuals, set up early on Sunday morning to sell everything from merino socks to complete bikes. Peaty was also in full on business mode, selling everything from signed gloves to forks and tyres.


Given that Steve had only really advertised on social media, the event was really well attended, and the hall was bustling, with DJ Kevin Radical adding to the vibe with a great selection of tunes. Josh Bryceland was also there, still on crutches, but looking every inch the champion he is and with a full range of second hand components and consumables on sale. Money was changing hands all over the place and proud looking mountain bikers could be seen walking around wit hands clutching everything from brake pads to carbon full susser frames.

Broken Riders were there to sell off some old stock at knockdown prices, and to launch our new ranges on an unsuspecting public. It was great to meet some of our current customers and friends, and to make some new ones. One even wore his Broken Riders tee to the event and I beamed when I saw it!

But what struck me most about the event, above all else, was how this event could change the bike industry for ever. Where else could you buy everything you need for your bike, or even a complete bike, at a discount price, in one venue and with a hip hop soundtrack? Where else could you get hold of the same tyres that Josh Brycland rode on last season? Where else could you pick up an awesome Santa Cruz frame for almost half the retail price?

It seems like if you're prepared to be flexible in what you're after and do some prior research, then you could walk away with a brand new bike for almost half the full retail price. The same applies to components,  riding gear and apparel. There were unbelievable bargains on offer, especially in the first two hours. Given that this event was such a success, and received so much interest, it seems only a matter of time before Peaty holds another such event, and I can imagine that many more vendors would be interested in attending.

The turnover of products in mountain biking is moving so fast these days, there must be lots of companies who want to get rid of their 'slightly less than current' stock. Also, if you've got a shed full of barely used bike bits, selling them at an event like Peaty's Bike Bonanza is so much more enjoyable than dealing with an unknown avatar of eBay. And surely no one would ever begrudge professional racers making a bit of extra cash by selling off their unwanted parts, and giving ordinary riders like me the chance to shred with the same rubber as Peaty?

Watch this space, Peaty's bike Bonanza has changed the bike industry forever...

5 reasons why you should buy our Contour jersey March 03 2014, 0 Comments

We recently launched our new riding jersey, called 'Contour'. Here's five reasons why YOU should be riding in it:

  1. It's made from 100% recycled polyester, and using recycled polyester lessens our dependence on petroleum as a raw material source. 
  2. Using recycled polyester curbs discards, thereby prolonging landfill life and reducing toxic emissions from incinerators.
  3. Buying clothing made from recycled polyester promotes new recycling streams for polyester clothing that is no longer wearable.
  4. Regular jerseys are made from virgin polyester, and polyester production is energy-intensive and relies on a finite, non-renewable natural resource - petroleum.
  5. With a design based on the contours of one of our favourite local trails, it has mountain biking in its DNA.

Available in sizes from women's large to men's 2x large, the Contour riding jersey from Broken Riders is a long sleeved free flowing jersey that moves with you on the bike. With a dropped rear hem, v-neck and loose fit, it's perfect for all day epics or a quick blast in the woods.

Pricing, at only £40, is comparable with other jerseys that do nothing but harm to the planet. So think about what you're buying before you go ahead and consume even more precious natural resources.

For men's sizes, click here

For women's sizes, click here

Broken Riders. We're looking after our playground.

TRAIL NAMES: you couldn’t make them up (except someone did) November 30 2013, 0 Comments

By Adele Mitchell (journalist, women’s cycling blogger and mountain biker!)

There are two things that are pretty much guaranteed to slice your confidence in two on a trail: one is being told that it ‘gets really, really technical, gnarly and steep once you get round that first corner’. The other is finding out that the trail is affectionately - and unofficially, of course - known as ‘Call The Air Ambulance’, ‘Six Months in Traction’ or ‘Best Not To Even Try’. *

Naming unofficial trails is absolutely necessary of course: otherwise how else are we going to impress everyone with our on-bike antics - or even describe where we’ve been? “I had a big off on that muddy downhill bit that goes over that big hump by those huge trees” is more likely to result in clueless head shaking than nods of sympathy. Give that trail a stupidly daunting name though, and you’re suddenly a superhero.

We all know the names are created by testosterone fuelled imaginations rather than being a product of precisely measured grading - yet still they strike fear into my heart. Here in the Surrey Hills, for instance, the prize for the most terrifying (yet publishable) trail name surely goes to Deliverance – a very long and very sheer roll-down - and funnily enough it took just one glance over the top of it to convince me to turn my bike around and ride somewhere else.  There are other trails too with names so wholly inappropriate and wince-inducing that it’s probably best not to write them down here. I peer over the top of those and turn around, as well.

However I managed to ride trails called Carnage Hill, Rude Awakening and Highway to Hell at Swinley Forest without being evenly remotely terrified (and believe me, that’s really quite unusual); possibly because I didn’t realise what they were called until I got home and looked on Strava.

To confuse matters, some of the most technical and potentially dangerous trails have deceptively bland names – local skills coach Richard Kelly from All Biked Up http://www.allbikedup.com sites Ambivalence (next to Deliverance!) – a drop with a near flat landing (and therefore not going on my ‘to do’ list anytime soon) as an example. He also pointed out that Cliff Richard, also on Leith Hill, ‘has claimed numerous collar bones’.

Which just goes to show, whatever the trail name, you just can’t predict what’s going to be around that first corner!

*Note to the foolhardy who are now frantically searching for these trails on Strava: forget it, they don’t exist (unless you know differently, of course…)

Follow Adele on Twitter: @adelemitchell

Photo Credit: Paul Mitchell Photography

Free Shipping from Now Until December 17th 2013! November 21 2013, 0 Comments

We're offering FREE SHIPPING ANYWHERE on all orders from now until December 17th 2013*!

*Only one free shipment per customer

This offer applies to orders placed online through brokenriders.com
The offer applies to standard shipping globally. Free shipping is not valid for any other mailing option other than standard 1st class standard shipping.

For further information, please contact: Broken Riders Apparel, 42 Maldon Road, Brighton, BN1 5BE, UK

© 2013 Broken Riders Apparel

You've gotta fight for your right to ride your bike... November 18 2013, 0 Comments

Anyone recovering from a serious crash should read Broken Rider Claudia Clémont's blog. Claudia had a serious smash earlier this year leaving her with a broken wrist, and she's now fighting to get back to fitness and continue to do what she loves the most - riding her mountain bike seriously fast!

You can read Claudia's blog here: http://claudiaclement.me/2013/11/17/have-no-fear-when-coming-back-from-an-injury/

Where Is the 'Performance' In Performance? October 14 2013, 0 Comments

The following article was written by Darren Roberts from Peak Performance Fitness, an award winning elite sports consultancy working with the most challenging, inspiring, innovative, athletes, teams and brands in the world today including Red Bull UK High Peformance Programme athletes the Athertons and Danny MacAskill.

I’m often asked what training an athlete should and shouldn’t do. Which exercises are best for certain sports or to help improve performance. The thing is, I’m not sure what ‘performance’ means anymore, ironic as I’m supposed to be a high performance manager. A fitness or S&C coach (not sure what the difference is there either) will try and ‘improve’ performance by manipulating adaptations to muscles and energy systems. We make the athlete fitter and stronger through constructing pretty undulating periodised training plans with micro and macro cycles, all coloured coded and everything. By getting the athlete to follow these plans, they follow the undulating wave upwards – riding the supercompensations. As coaches we sit back and marvel at our work as the athlete gets fitter and stronger which is making them a ‘better’ athlete, it’s improving their ‘performance’ isn’t it? Maybe not.

Metaphorically we train athletes today based on information we found out last week, when we really need to be preparing them for tomorrow. Preparing athletes for competition, to ‘perform’ in front of a crowd – with everything and anything ‘riding’ on the performance isn’t something that is achieved through simply increasing 3 rep max on deadlift. An SRM crank isn’t going to help with the split second instinctual reaction an athlete can make at a given moment which may decide whether they’re world champion or not. I’m not talking about sports psychology, or NLP – but a rounded approach which acknowledges the ‘performance’ in the performance, in a theatrical sense.

danny knee

It’s not just about ‘positive self talk’ from a psychological view, or how effectively the muscles can produce and maintain strength, power and endurance, how efficiently the cardio vascular system can transport oxygen to the muscles. It’s putting on a show, rising to the occasion, literally ‘performing’ in front of a crowd with very real consequences to both failure and success, which are also public. When does an athlete stop being a collection of data points, key performance indicators and energy systems to be manipulated and become a person? If coaching is as much an art as it is a science can’t the same be said for athletes? We see artists as creative people, creating something from nothing. Isn’t this what athletes do? Aren’t they creative? Isn’t that creativity and emotional expression key to their performance?


I was at the NIke Performance Summit recently, and humbled to be invited to it again. A question was posed. In percentage terms, how much is that ‘moment’ that deciding moment when a game turns, a decision by an athlete which turns events – is down to the mental x factor, creativity whatever you want to call it?’. 150 of the world’s top practitioners generally agreed it was 60%+. Now that’s an arbitrary number, but the point is we all agreed it was a significant portion of the deciding factor in a competitive environment, in front of a crowd – but does that play a significant part of our preparation? No.


There’s a lot more to high performance than physiological and psychological measures. What can be learned from other people that have to perform at a high level, such as special forces? They don’t know what they’re going to do, or where, with life threatening consequences but still manage. In sport we know when the races are, how long they are and who else is going to be there – in fact there isn’t anything we don’t know about the challenge the athlete will face (apart from possibly weather), so what’s the problem?


Are we making it too complicated for ourselves? Possibly, but the next frontier in athlete performance is not exponentially more complicated ways to gather data to manipulate muscles. The next frontier is in creativity, artistry – exploring and understanding the art of performance. So the key message, is get yourself signed up to your local amateur dramatics society and watch your race times fall!


If you're interested in finding out how Darren and Peak Performance Fitness can help you on your road to recovery, or to achieve your performance goals, you can find them at: www.peakperformancefitness.org



Mountain bike trail hunting in the Dordogne, pt.2 October 13 2013, 0 Comments

After a glorious ten days in the Perigord Vert region of the Dordogne, we packed up, said our goodbyes and headed south to stay with family in Beaumont du Périgord in the 'Périgord Pourpre' (Purple Périgord) region for a couple of days. This is an area I've visited on a number of occasions and so know my way around a little better than the north of the region. However, my last visit with a mountain bike was over ten years ago, and so I was keen to get out into the countryside and explore what the area had to offer in terms of trail riding.

Beaumont du Périgord
Beaumont du Périgord (or Beaumont), sits on top of a ridge that flanks the river Couze and is one of many imposing Bastide towns in the region. Chosen for their strategic positions, bastide towns were set up as early as the 13th century in order to establish a more modern society in what was, at the time, a rather wild and inhospitable part of Europe. Many, including Beaumont, were used to gain a military advantage during the 100 years war and became heavily fortified, often using a fortified church tower as an observation post.

While I'm no military strategist, one thing I do know about bastide towns is that they generally have some steep terrain around them and Beaumont proved to be no exception. With over 100km of trails in the area I was spoilt for choice, and after buying a 'cartes IGN' map of the region (1937 O if you're interested), I eagerly planned my first ride.

The Rollercoaster
Setting off from Beaumont I headed east and quickly picked up a trail that began at the road-side just out of town. Heading swiftly across the dry grass I entered a little copse, turned a corner and was met by around ten people on horseback blocking my progress. Fortunately, the group leader spotted me and waved me past, and I didn't need a second invitation. The good nature of all trail users I came across in France, whether on foot or horseback, was a refreshing change from the usual reception encountered near my home in south east England. Everyone was really friendly and almost always smiled and waved, sometimes shouting encouragement ("Allez! Allez!"), as I did my best (read: poor) impersonation of Fabien Barell!

Quickly leaving the group on horseback behind, I followed the trail up a steep incline as it traced the tree line to my left. At the top of the climb, the trail ran out and met with a tarmac road for around 200m before I spotted an opening and a likely looking trail. I wasn't disappointed, as the trail dipped savagely into some woods, full of ruts and roots and small lips which provided a decent amount of boost to get some air. Hitting these lips provided great fun and the trail seemed to steepen, then level off, then incline slightly before becoming even steeper than the previous downhill section. The trail ran like this for a good mile or so, testing my skills and nerve, as the ruts became deeper, often filled with the dust of a hot, dry summer. I decided that this trail had to be called Rollercoaster!

As I reached the bottom of the trail I could see that the height I'd shed was going to have to be paid for, and crunched down through the gears in order to begin the slow climb out from the bottom of the valley. The climb was tough. Rocky, rooty erosion channels pushed my front tyre into a line I didn't want to take and forced me to really put the power through the pedals in order to keep moving. Rising temperatures that were close to 30 degrees centigrade didn't help, and by the time I got to the top of the trail and burst out onto the road at Léomard I was exhausted. Looking on my iPhone at my Strava app, I'd only ridden eight miles.

From Léomard I headed down towards the river Couze, turning north to follow the river until I hit the few houses that make up La Moulinotte. I saw the most beautiful house here, which was a converted forge, complete with waterwheel and lake. Yours for only one million Euros, I was to learn later! From here I headed back west to complete the loop and back to Beaumont. Distance covered: 13 miles.

My appetite well and truly whetted, the next day I set off on an even bigger adventure. Following my route from the previous day, I hit the aptly named Rollercoaster trail, thoroughly enjoying its contours as my 'trail memory' allowed me to be much gentler on the brakes and more effective with my lip-boosting. The trail didn't disappoint and was even better than the previous day.  As I climbed out of the valley towards Léomard the rain began - I knew it was coming as I'd read the forecast - and I pushed on down the other side of the hill towards the river Couze. From the valley bottom I climbed toward St-Avit-Sénieur, slowly making my way up a steep open trail in what was rapidly becoming heavy and persistent rain. 

After stopping under the shade of an oak tree and munching on a powerbar, I decided against visiting the 11th century church in the centre of St-Avit-Senieur in order to limit the amount of time I'd be spending stationery in my now sodden riding gear - I was getting cold. I had no reason to be alarmed, as a steep climb up and over the hill to the hamlet of Les Giroux soon warmed me up. Now my biggest problem wasn't the cold but the heat - I needed to wear my Oakleys in order to keep the driving rain out of my eye, but every time I put them on they misted up within seconds! 

Despite my best intentions to make this a really long, all day ride, the weather was getting the better of me. I was soaked through to the skin and with no sign of the rain even easing, let alone stopping, I decided to head back to Beaumont. From Les Giroux I followed a trail into the trees that headed west and then plummeted steeply down to the river Couze. Although broken, rutted and overgrown, the dressed stone surface of the trail betrayed this trail as an old drovers' road which was originally cobbled in order to allow farmers to drive their cattle to market. On another day this could have been an incredible trail - on this particular day the surface of broken cobbles, tree roots and moss made it treacherous, and my tyres lost their grip twice, depositing me hard onto the trail.

On reaching the river I crossed via a footbridge and ground my way up through woods of walnut and oak trees, towards the ridge upon which Beamont stands. Again, on another day, this particular trail, which ran almost parallel with the D25 to Beaumont, would have been amazing. If it had been dry, I'd have probably ground my way up to the top and then turned around and hammered back down!

I finally reached Beaumont, satisfied at having competed the ride, but a little upset at having only completed twelve miles on what was probably going to be my last ride of the holiday. Also, I'd worn a hole in the seat of my shorts due to a mixture of moisture and mud!

The following day my bitterness melted as we attended the Beaumont night market, a regular event that is a combination of local food and wine producers selling their wares in the town square, and once purchased, visitors can sit at trestle tables and eat and drink the night away. On this particular evening, we were lucky enough to be accompanied by a fantastic blues band playing some great rhythm and blues.

At the end of the day...
After only a brief time riding in the Dordogne, one thing is certain. The region is a fantastic place to ride. At times it reminded me of my local trails in the South Downs in the south of the UK, and then at other times it was so rocky and steep that it could have been a region in the lower French Alps. The variety of trails was astonishing, and although definitely cross country, I felt there were enough technical elements and opportunities for speed to keep most people happy. Having a map is crucial, as is being able to read it. Signage can be hard to spot in some areas, and there are very few people around to show you where to go if you get lost. I would advise to always plan a route before you leave AND make sure you tell someone else where you're going. I'd love to go back and ride more; perhaps north east of Beaumont around the Vézère Valley or in the Périgord Noir region to the south east, which includes places such as La Roque-Gageac and Beynac-et-Cazenac. The area would be an awesome place to start a guided mountain bike business - you could have some great fun building your own trails, or 'modifying' existing ones.

Finally, always check when you're planning to go to the Dordogne. You can ride all year round, but be aware that in some regions it may be hunting season. And while an average mountain biker careering through the woods doesn't really look like a deer or wild boar, you wouldn't really want to take the risk of being shot, or of ruining the hunters' carefully prepared shooting grounds now, would you?!  

Mountain bike trail hunting in the Dordogne, pt.1 September 05 2013, 0 Comments

Fortunately for me, although some may disagree, I'm not a wild boar. Although having ended my brief, if exciting ride down what looked like promising singletrack to be met with yet another huntsmans' hide, I could certainly empathise with the wild beasts. The hide leaves you with nowhere to run (or cycle), and with no option but to turn around and grind back up towards the road I dodged the imaginary lead shot heading my way and began pedalling. 

This is how it is when you mountain bike in the Dordogne, France. It's a mixture of ecstasy as you find the sweetest piece of natural, forest singletrack and utter frustration as it abruptly ends for no reason other than the hunters thought that this would be a great location at which to have a go at ending the life of some poor, unfortunate creature.

My riding adventures were part of a family holiday to the Dordogne, and so choosing the locations were always going to be a compromise of some sort; it had to be an area with accommodation, it had to have some appeal for the kids (note: swimming pool required), and it really ought to be beautiful scenery - preferably with hills, lots of hills. The last of those three parameters, was of course, my own requirement.

Green Perigord
Settling on a rented gite in a village called Bourdeilles in the Périgord Vert" (Green Périgord) region of northern Dordogne as the first part of our holiday, my initial thoughts were that "it's a bit flat". However, once I actually got hold of a map (the blue Carte de Randonnée 1934O), things began to look up. Laying the map flat out on the table, I spotted little paths everywhere, and although there was certainly no great height to be dealt with, some of the contours looked nicely packed together.

So straight into it, and eager to go, my first ride was a real exploration of the local area. Setting off from our accommodation I took one of the white, dusty farm tracks which run along the ridge from the south west of Bourdeilles to Valeuil. Pretty soon noticing a promising track off to my right, I dropped in, to be greeted by a decent little section of trail that descended into the valley below. Although a natural trail, I found lots of elements to boost off and get some air. The holiday had begun!

Once at the bottom of the valley, the trail snaked its way back up the other side, pushing its way steeply through a copse to the top of the hill. As I reached the copse, a mass of butterflies flew up in my face. There were hundreds of the things, flapping in front of my face and making me feel like I was a character in a fairy tale. The 'wicked witch' soon appeared in the form of a broken chain about ten metres further up the trail. Not sure why, but one of the pins had sheared clean through. After a bit of cursing, the chain splitter on my multi-tool did the job and I was back in action. Unbelievably, his was to be my only mechanical of the whole three weeks.

Pretty soon after the trail ended, and I burst out onto a tarmac road. Several promising paths leading into the forest resulted in cursing from myself as I dived in and then had to pedal back up the steep hill - they just ended, not going anywhere. With the forest being too thick to make my way through, I had no option but to head back up towards the road and try another option. Frustrated and knackered, I headed back to the gite.

South Towards Bussac
The next day I headed out in the opposite direction, south towards Bussac. Within two minutes I found a trail marked by the welcoming yellow marks of the GRP network. Covering over 25,000 miles across France, these trails are local area networks (unlike the red and white marked trails of the long distance GR network). A short, steep climb bordered by fields of sunflowers put me on top of the ridge, with a great vantage point from which to assess where I should go next. I settled for a section of double track that lead off to my left and into the forest. Suitably ragged, it provided a great bit of fun... unit it ended at what can only be described as a hunter's watchtower. This homemade structure towered about ten metres and must have presumably been made by local hunters so that they could spot and blast their prey in the dense forest. I was becoming despondent as every decent trail ended all too quickly.

Making my way back up to the top, I spotted a clearing in the forest that looked like a footpath. Guided by desperation to find somewhere decent to descend at speed, I pushed my bars in the direction of the clearing. After only a few metres, the footpath widened to that of a regular bike-friendly trail, becoming steeper and steeper. I grinned at finally having found some challenging trail. As my speed increased, so did the technical challenges I faced. Natural steps in the trail, caused by years of erosion, provided awesome drop-offs to negotiate. It reminded me of the latter sections of White's Level at Afan, although considerably shorter.

All too soon it was over, and I headed back onto the road and towards Bussac. After a brief fuel stop in the village, I picked up the GR36 and moved east towards La Courelie. This was a tough climb, the trail having been weathered by the wet ravages of winter weather and the hot, dry summer. After La Courelie the trail levelled out a little, and once through Le Puy-Mas I was back on the road, but at least I was at the top of the valley. The map came out of my Camelbak, and looking down I noticed I was standing on a road marking for the route of the Tour de Dordogne, a popular French road race of around 590km which happens every July. As I scoured the landscape for any sign of a trail heading down from the ridge towards Biras, I spotted some power lines running steeply down the side of the hill.

The excitement increased as I headed towards the power lines and spotted a trail opening. Hitting the entry at speed I was greeted by a soft loamy trail that snaked its way down the steep sided valley through the pine trees. Bouncing off tree roots and boosting off small ramps, my bike ripped down the trail, taking everything in its stride. At the bottom of the trail, a right-handed natural berm enabled me to maintain some speed until the terrain levelled out and back onto the road. Although only just over half a kilometre long, this was definitely the best moment of riding so far. Fork lock-out on, I grunted back up the steep switchback tarmac road to have another go. Two more high speed runs later, and heading low on water and energy, I decided to figure out the quickest way to get back to Bourdeilles - but not before having marked the trail on the map and obviously naming it 'Le Powerline'.

Heading north on the road, I hit a crossroads, one branch of which was a track heading in roughly the direction I wanted to go. This seemed like the obvious choice, but given previous experience, and my low energy levels, I decided to check on the map before I headed downhill. Sure enough, the map confirmed that the trail ran down the hill to the east and north the beautiful Chateau de la Cote, and met with a road which would lead me back to Bourdeilles.

Within a couple of minutes the track ended, my progress halted by a chain-link fence barring entry. Looking around, I saw another, narrower trail to my right. Choosing this, and hoping it had the desired location at the other end, I pointed my Stumpjumper down the hill. The trail steepened, and pretty soon I was blasting through an oak wood, flying over exposed roots and leaving a trail of dust and flying acorns. At the bottom of the trail I was met with a series of natural whoops, which I tried to manual, and failed to on all but the first. The trail crossed a stream and continued to head north until it met the road which took me back to Bourdeilles. Exhausted, but elated having found some decent trails, I showered, opened a beer and set to work on cooking a rather large dinner on the barbecue for myself and the family to celebrate.

The following days were spent repeating my new found trails and sessioning the wonderful downhill trails I had found, although all the while conscious that during the previous days' four hour rides I hadn't seen another single person...

For my final ride in the Périgord Vert region, I decided to head to the highest local point, Bourland - although at only 237m, it hardly qualifies as a high peak. My loop this time involved heading east along the ridge as I'd done on the first ride. Continuing on past the trail where I experienced the butterflies, I headed towards Le Baconnet and up through the forest towards La Chauterie via a steep, tough, wooded climb. At La Chauterie, I turned right at a house surrounded by coaches (maybe the owner had a coach hire business?), and hit a nice, long section of farm track heading down the valley towards Chateau La Cote. The dusty trail picked up speed as it headed towards the bottom of the valley, where it carved left. Nature provided a fabulous berm for me to rail and maintain my speed until the trail levelled out and I found myself climbing up the oak wood trail with the whoops. Grinding to the top, I couldn't resist another crack at Le Powerline trail, which was about four hundred metres up the road and would take me down into Biras.

The climb out of Biras was tough, as a worn, rocky technical trail tested my endurance and strength. Once out of Biras I followed the trail to Le Montet, crossing a stream only to be greeted with yet another sharp climb as the trail headed north through some woods. If there were many more climbs like this one I would begin to struggle, as the temperature was soaring to around 32 degrees and I was beginning to boil. Once out of the woods I could see the water tower which marked the highest point, and so my mood was lifted. However, first I had to cross a steep sided valley, with the trail heading steeply downhill and meandering its way back out towards the hamlet of Bourland.


Once through Bourland I rested at the water tower, contented by the fact that my route back to Bourdeilles was going to be pretty much downhill all the way. I followed an uneventful double track back in the direction of Le Baconnet, making sure to hammer down the trail I'd climb up a few hours earlier. I hadn't realised how rocky the trail was as it swept to the right, and I almost lost the back end of the bike as I skipped from one section to another to avoid a football sized rock. From Le Baconnet it was back onto the tarmac and then up to the ridge track and back to Bourdeilles and an ice cold beer.

To be continued...