Mountain Bikes can take us to places that other bikes can’t – trails through bluebell woods, along skyline ridges, on paths that wind through beautiful remote valleys, away from traffic, immersed in wild nature. With just a little investment in basic skills and techniques, and time to learn and reflect, these worlds can be opened up for you too. At Element, this is what our Beginning Mountain Biking Weekend For Women is all about.
We are not offering an uncomfortable experience, with steep, rocky drops, jumps, riding on the edge or acrobatic manoeuvres.
Over Element’s two-day course in the spectacular Black Mountains, you’ll ride some of the best trails in Britain. You’ll learn the fundamentals of mountain biking: body position, effective braking, gear selection, climbing and descending with confidence over terrain that won’t be too technical – or terrifying.
With our vastly experienced and nurturing MTB coach Clare, you’ll be part of a small, supportive, non-competitive, all-women group.
You’ll spend Day 1 developing at your own pace, slowly and gradually building confidence, working with your potential and within your limits.
On Day 2, we’ll put together everything we learned on the first day and ride longer trails in the stunning mountains and forests, on routes carefully selected to allow you to ride with confidence and practise your new skills. It will not be a race. Nobody gets left behind. But it will be, we hope, the start of your love affair with biking in the wilds.
For this July weekend, we are very lucky that Kate Rawles is coming to ride along with us and give us a talk later on Saturday. I first met Kate at The Women’s Adventure Expo in Bristol a couple of years ago, where I heard her fascinating talk on cycling over 8,000 miles across South America on her self-built bamboo bicycle, Woody. For Kate, the pedalling was just part of challenge. “The idea of building my own bike out of bamboo just seemed to fit: it’s low-impact, and I loved the idea of doing a biodiversity ride combining environmental activism and adventure on a ‘home-grown’ bike that used to be a plant,” she says. Between 2017 and 2018, she rode Woody from Colombia to Cape Horn, while sleeping in a tent. Kate cares passionately about the devastating impact humans are having on the planet, so the inspiration was to try and bring those two things together. “I wanted to focus on biodiversity loss because of the avalanche of species extinction we’re currently witnessing – the beginning of what’s being called the sixth great extinction is a very big issue.” She’s fascinating and it’ll be great to have her along and get back on Saturday and listen to her with tea, cake or a beer.
Saturday July 17th & Sunday July 18th
Start time Saturday: 08.45 End time Sunday: 16.45 (approx)
Weekend Cost: £195 (includes lunch, refreshments, talk by Kate Rawles, tuition)
If you require bike hire, it’s £30 a day, which includes a helmet (you can opt for this on the booking form)
Accommodation options – see below and we will send you our list on booking.
We will be based at Llwyn Celyn, a historic 15th-century house recently restored by the Landmark Trust. Sited at the southern end of the spectacular Llanthony Valley, we’ll use Llwyn Celyn’s warm, airy barn for the indoor talks/films part of the course and we will be able to pedal directly from the barn to all our routes.
The barn has showers, a kitchen and, upstairs, a basic bunkhouse, which can sleep up to 12 people (see accommodation options below).
A quality vegetarian packed lunch will be provided on both days (we let you put it together – everyone like their sarnies differently!), as well as tea and coffee on arrival. If you have special and complex dietary requirements, it would be really helpful if you could bring your own lunch food.
We imagine that you can ride a road bike competently – as a guide, you should be able to complete a 2-hour bike ride on the road. We really like people to positively challenge themselves, but this is not a weekend for complete beginner cyclists. You do not need to be an ‘elite athlete’ at all and we encourage you to work at a level that you are comfortable with. On Sunday, we will have an enjoyable day ride on varied terrain.
If you have any doubts or worries about whether this course is for you, please contact us and we will be happy to discuss it.
What to bring
You will be given a checklist of what to bring closer to the date, but it will include a MTB with front suspension and a helmet. If you do bring your own bike it must be in good working order, preferably having had a recent service.
Please note that we have excellent mountain bikes to rent from our local specialist hire company at a cost of £30 a day (includes helmet). Please indicate on the booking form if you would like to book a bike for the two days and let us know your height, so that we can get the correct size for you.
Can I come on my own?
Absolutely! Much of the joy of what we do is about connecting like-minded women who want to get out in nature, learn new skills in a supportive environment and, most of all, have fun.
Maximum group size
We require a minimum of 9 participants to run this course. We are confident that the number will be reached. If it isn’t we will refund you in full.
Because accommodation is such a personal matter, we find it works better for people to choose where they would like to stay. Over the years, we have built up a directory of trusted accommodation in the area, from yurts to shepherd’s huts, from farmhouse B&Bs to top-end luxury hotels, catering for all budgets. We’ll send you the list on booking.
Please indicate on the booking form if you would like to book a bed in the Llwyn Celyn bunkhouse – it’s very nicely done communal accommodation (you need to bring pillow and bedding) with the use of kitchen, showers and single bed and will cost £25p/p for the Saturday night. First come, first served.