Escape to the hills

Frequently Asked Questions

Which ride is right for me?

We use the following grading system to help you decide the most suitable ride for your level of skill and fitness:

I’m new – what do I need to bring?

We can provide pretty much everything you’ll need – so long as you let us know in advance. A crash helmet is a must – we can’t take you out without one. Let us know in advance if you need one. Depending on numbers we can either lend or arrange for a hire.

I’m new – what clothes should I wear on the ride?

Essentially whatever keeps you warm and comfortable. In the colder months having layers and a rain top to hand works best. We recommend a pair of padded cycling shorts or a gel seat cover. Padded gloves help absorb some shock and help keep a safe grip. And cycling glasses protect your eyes from mud and bugs – not just for looking cool. If you have them a sturdy pair of hiking shoes are much better to ride in than light weight training shoes (sorry no flipflops!).

I’m new – how fit do I have to be?

Reasonably fit – for example a regular gym user or able to jog for half an hour fairly easily. Our beginners’ and intermediates’ rides are designed to help you start out and then gradually get into shape. Our beginners’ classes are taken at a leisurely pace with lots of stopping points to demonstrate and practice particular skills. Mountain biking is a strenuous exercise but taken at the right pace and with the right build up is achievable and tremendously rewarding for most active people. The orange and black graded rides are suitable for more experienced riders with a basic level of endurance, for example able to ride for around two hours, and are not designed for beginners.

I’m new – what if I get into trouble or just can’t do it?

We will never ask someone to attempt something that we don’t think they can do – and we emphasise throughout that it’s perfectly okay to stop and walk at any point. Our aim is to help everyone come away with a sense of achievement and excitement, ready to do more and knowing enough of the basic skills to enjoy riding, but we also know mountain biking will not be for everyone.

I’m new – are these skills very technical or difficult to learn?

No. We will teach you pretty much everything you need to enjoy and be ready to tackle almost every route going in the South Downs. By the end of our beginners’ ride we have found riders are confident enough to tackle things they previously avoided or didn’t think they could do.

Is there an age restriction?

'Fraid so. If you are under eighteen years old we can take you out only if you are accompanied by a parent or guardian. (And there’s no upper age limit!)

What paths do you use?

We have devised routes that stick to bridlepaths and byways with minimum roads. We avoid footpaths (which mountain bikers have no right of way on).

What food and drink should I bring?

For the beginners’ rides its helpful to bring a water bottle – though we’ll have some spare. We’ll provide some energy bars and boosters to keep you going. And there’s some food to celebrate at the end – location depending on where we start out from and the time of day.
For the regular and night rides please bring your own supply of water. Again we’ll provide energy bars along the way. Depending on the length of the ride there may be a more substantial mid-ride stop for cake or other snacks. And all rides finish with some food to replenish yourself and socialise. All included!

What if I get a puncture? Or something else goes wrong with the bike?

For beginners’ rides we’ll carry enough spares and tools to get you back safely – and can give a quick demonstration of dealing with punctures as part of the lesson!
We ask riders on our regular rides and breaks to come with a minimum of a spare inner tube suitable for the bike you will be riding. There is no need to bring any other tools or trail side repair equipment because you guide will have everything needed.

What about emergencies?

At least one guide on every ride will also have emergency activity aid kit and we have all undertaken training in dealing with possible injuries.

Regular rides – how fast do you go?

We don’t see our rides as competitive races. The emphasis is on taking rides at a pace everyone feels is within their limit so that at the end you have a sense of achievement, maybe having gone further or tackled more challenging routes than those you are used to - and are not left so completely wiped out that you never want to come again!

Night rides – what do I need?

We can provide the very latest Exposure lights for hire – and will discount the price of the hire should you want to buy the light at the end. You'll be given the option to hire lights when booking the ride. Other than that it’s the same as for regular daytime rides (except its dark!).

Overnight stays – where?

We have arranged a super deal with a lovely 17th century, recently refurbished four star hotel in the nearby quiet village of Ashington for those looking for a weekend of riding. If you require additional accomodation for a family member or partner please let us know and we can arrange this at a preferential rate. with lots to see and do in easy reach (or just relax in comfort!). For trips further afield, we’ll propose good quality accommodation to fit in with the preferred location for the rides and arrange any other necessary transport links. Let us know what you are after and we’ll find something to suit you.

What if the weather’s bad?

Our rides go ahead in pretty much all conditions - all part of the mountain biking experience. But if we think there’s a risk to the group’s welfare then we’ll either cancel or change the advertised route to something less exposed or maybe shorter. In such circumstances we’ll offer a refund or the chance to switch to another ride. And we reserve the right not to take out any rider who we feel is likely to put themselves and the group at risk by having inappropriate kit for the weather conditions.

What if I need to cancel?

Give us a call as soon as you can and we’ll see if it’s possible to rearrange another ride. Refunds may be possible if you give us enough notice – but we reserve the right to keep up to 50% of the payment if you give us less than seven day's notice and to keep the full amount if you give us less than 24 hour's notice of the ride. For our special trips and tours separate conditions for cancellations apply, depending on the locations and durations and will be set out in advance.

What if we need to cancel?

We’ll always do our utmost not to cancel – but in the event that we have to we’ll let you know immediately and offer a refund or the chance to switch to another ride.