Who are you and what do you do?
I’m @forestcyclist (come find me on Twitter), I successfully dabble in cycle campaigning and the promotion of all things cycling in and around the New Forest National Park. I’ve lived here all of my life and have a young family who I love to get out into the forest with on two wheels whatever the weather! Back in the 1990’s and early 2000’s I spent a large chunk of my life racing downhill MTB’s before then taking a self enforced cycling hiatus for a decade or so whilst ‘life’ got semi-serious. I rediscovered my love of cycling 5 or 6 years ago through entirely rebuilding my 1999 Spooky Bandwagon. Nowadays I can mainly be found enjoying the New Forest on my gravel bike, though there’s over 300 miles of traffic free gravel ‘roads’ around here so good luck tracking me down!
What bike(s) do you ride?
In the bike cave I currently have a 2015 Giant Revolt gravel bike, a 2014 Cannondale Synapse Disc Ultegra for road duties, a 2016 Cube Travel SL for daily commuting & cycling with the family, and a pristinely restored 1999 Spooky Bandwagon MTB (which if I’m perfectly honest is pretty much just for “looking at”!). As a former downhill MTB racer I had some ‘interesting’ experiences with early carbon bikes, so every bike I currently possess is aluminium framed. Stuff made with fire rarely lets you down.
Favourite route to ride?
Some of my most memorable cycle rides in the New Forest are those where I haven’t planned a route at all, the New Forest is an ever changing landscape throughout the seasons and appreciating it on a bicycle is always an absolute pleasure. I keep meaning to plan a route taking in all of my favourite coffee/cake stops of the New Forest. Suffice to say if I did stop at all of them in one day I fear my otherwise relatively trim waistline would be in serious danger. For starters, if you’re ever in Lyndhurst do pop in and sample the tasty wares on offer at Tea Total, similarly at Rosie Lea in Brockenhurst, Stef’s Kitchen in Beaulieu, Hockey’s at South Gorley, or The Cider Pantry in Burley. All lovely independent local businesses who very much warmly welcome cyclists.
What was your first bike?
My first bike was a Raleigh Burner BMX in black and red. I still believe to this day that riding a BMX teaches a cyclist unbeatable bike handling skills, their twitchy handling characteristics and unforgiving small wheels can drop you in the dirt in a heartbeat. If you can rip up the trails on a BMX then it really gives you the edge crossing over to much larger wheeled MTB’s, road bikes, and the like. Besides, who doesn’t want to recreate that iconic scene from E.T right?
Best bit of kit and why?
It is probably the least ‘gucci’ answer you’ll ever receive to this question but the best bit of cycling kit I have used in recent years is the carbon belt drivetrain in my Cube Travel SL. I’ve cycled around 5000 miles on it during the 12 months I’ve owned it, each pedal stroke practically silent, seamlessly smooth, and faultless at putting the power down when required. The real beauty of it though is virtually zero maintenance, all I’ve had to do is hose it down a couple of times, no lubrication is required so no ‘mess’ ever builds up other than a light layer of dust. It’s a perfect solution on a bike that does the daily commute as well as family cycle rides on gravel forest tracks.
What’s your dream bike?
Probably the steel framed Shand Bahookie in camo green, specced out with a Gates carbon belt drivetrain, hooked up to an 11 speed internal hub gear, and stopping duties looked after with SRAM hydraulic disc brakes. I’m a sucker for Selle Italia saddles, the Max SLR being the current preferred option of my backside. Also Schwalbe G-One (Tubeless) tyres seated on an Enve SES 4.5 AR wheelset, and finished with the obligatory DMR flat pedals which I’ve used on almost all my bikes since they started out over 20 odd years ago!