Here in the UK we gotta work with the weather we get, if it’s snow in March, torrential rain in June or a heat wave in October. We decided just to get out on the road no matter what the weather with our friend Matt Hampton, mtb journalist and former editor of MBR magazine. We took theVito Sport X to ride some of his favourite spots in the UK and catch up with people along the way. Our first stop Wales. Here’s part 1 of our Best of the Great British Summer Time Road Trip Day 2…
I’d been meaning to visit Coed y Brenin ever since I heard about the Challenge Your Boundaries project. This came into being with the new MinoTaur trail – a blue graded loop aimed at families and beginners but, crucially, built wide enough to ride an adaptive bike through its entirety.
What’s an adaptive bike? Essentially either a three or four-wheeled hand-cranked machine, designed for riders with a physical disability, severe spinal injury or the like.
Challenge your Boundaries was set up by local MTB coach Graham O’Hanlon, who’d been in touch with me back when I was editing MBR magazine.
I wasn’t sure what to make of adaptive bikes at first; how they’d feel to ride and how capable they’d be over rough terrain. But the four-wheeled versions made it down a test run of the black trail at Antur Stinog just a couple of days previously, so they’re clearly as capable as the rider is determined. Simon at Antur Stiniog had told me how impressed he’d been, and while it’s hard to phrase it without sounding patronising, so was I.
There’s so much conjecture at the moment as to what is and isn’t ‘real’ mountain biking; some riders slating trail centres, others questioning whether developments in wheel sizes (the rise of the 29er) is a betrayal of the sport. I’d love to meet the cynic who’d say a disabled rider wasn’t a ‘real’ mountain biker because he was riding a recumbent bike. Actually, on second thoughts, I wouldn’t. One thing I am certain of though: if our sport doesn’t adapt, doesn’t grow, doesn’t bring in new riders; it will die out. In all honesty, mountain biking is better now than it has ever been: the quality of equipment, the choice of trails and the sheer breadth of riding styles is beyond anything we had back in the so-called good old days.
Blimey, this is turning into a bit of a rant. It wasn’t meant to. We shot some footage with Graham which will be up here shortly; in the meantime, if you want to find out more about Challenge you Boundaries and adaptive mountain biking, click here.
Words Matt Hampton
Read about Day 1 here