Exploring by Bike

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  • Exploring by Bike
  • johnellison

    Does anyone else actually do this any more, or is it just me?

    For me, one of the great joys of getting out in the country on my bikes is to go exploring and finding new bits of trail, to see if I can link one part to the next.

    I see a lot of posts there along the lines of “is there any good riding around x/y/z?”

    Now, I appreciate that it’s often a good idea to get a bit of local knowledge if you’re just visiting the area for a day or two and want a “quick fix”; or if you are a complete noob and don’t know where to start; but when you’re asking about the area where you actually live, isn’t it one of the joys to get a map of the area and try to string a loop together before going out to try it out?

    Or am I weird?

    Fellow weirdo here…..and the more ambitious and challenging the better.

    Pretty much all my riding is channeled into training for & planning the next big loop. If it’s sh1t riding I just shrug it off – I’ll still have had a good day in the hills.

    Premier Icon jwr

    That’s exactly what I do when I’m riding alone. I just enjoy pootling round exploring the hills/woods. Probably much easier up here in Scotlandshire. I almost always log to a GPS too so that I can map things out and easily plan new routes when riding with other people.

    Premier Icon kimbers

    Definately I like doing it in urban areas too, underpasses, industrial estates etc

    these days my time is limited for proper rides, family, work etc Ive only recently had the chance when Im on holiday, so if im heading out on a proper ride I like to know its gonna be easy to cover as much distance as possible, which means waymarked trails etc

    Premier Icon jam bo

    i wonder where that goes…‘ has found me both some great riding and some truly shit riding.

    8yrs living nr the quantocks and I still hadn’t found everything. 6 yrs living next to dartmoor and i’m not even close.


    isn’t it one of the joys to get a map of the area and try to string a loop together before going out to try it out?

    I would have to live for another 50 years to try out all the paths and bridleways marked on my local OS map.Life’s too short.


    I’ve done more U- turns, rode up to dead ends and pushed my bike out of trouble than most.

    Premier Icon Sanny

    Not just you, fella. I’ve been doing it for years but now in a more focused manner in respect of the Munros and rides in the Lakeland Fells.

    I’ve unearthed some truly brilliant gems – Binnean Mor, Whiteless Pike, Buchaille Etive Mor, the Carn Gorm horseshoe, Stob Ban to Kinlochleven traverse etc. Closer to home, I’ve found some great trails atop the Campsie Fells and Fintry Hills north of Glasgow. Not necessarily new trails but new to me that have put a smile on my face. 😀

    Premier Icon kimbers

    jam bo – Member
    ‘i wonder where that goes…’ has found me both some great riding and some truly shit riding.

    literally – saw a sweet looking bit of singletrack dissapearing through a hedge on an exploratory ride down the canal onece.
    found a large muddy patch that was piled up oddly
    fortunately before I rode through it the homeless gentlemen I hadnt seen started shouting obscenities at me to get away from his toilet 😕

    Premier Icon Nobeerinthefridge

    Yip, canny beat a wee bit of exploration, both for new trails, and firewood!. I found the beginnings of a new descent at our local trails last year, which turned out to be a kilometre of woodland gorgeousness.


    Same here. Have been exploring for years and like fatalbert says, have had my fair share of u-turns, dead ends, oops not allowed in that bit etc.

    It’s all part of the fun innit? And it’s probably the main reason why I’ll happily spend 2-3 hours heading off in “the opposite direction” to many of those that repeatedly hit the same trails (namely those around the Surrey Hills).

    Premier Icon jam bo

    although the most depressing bits are superb bits of riding that lead into a dead end, or require miles of slog for a couple of hundred yards of brilliance.

    Another weirdo here. Enjoy the odd trail centre visit sometimes but I always leave them with a vague feeling of guilt and disappointment. It’s a bit like going to KFC.

    Someone on here claimed the “rambler on a bike” niche for themselves a while back and I reckon I’d place myself in that category but minus the red socks and tartan flask.

    If I’m visiting a new area I like to have a good pore over the OS map and like to follow my nose when out on rides to seek out new stuff.

    Some of the ” is there any decent riding in x…” threads on here wind me up if I’m honest. Fair enough to ask for a few pointers but I swear some people want it on a plate. Just open a bloody map.

    >Some of the ” is there any decent riding in x…” threads on here wind me up if I’m honest. Fair enough to ask for a few pointers but I swear some people want it on a plate. Just open a bloody map.<

    Ditto…………whilst having the cheek to state they down want any pushing.

    Internet makes it all too easy these days, gotta earn your turns as they say in ski touring 😉

    >Buchaille Etive Mor<

    Um……… that’s a different level of weirdness.


    I’m always exploring – round broxbourne its a treasure trove of people telling me ‘you can’t ride here’

    I love it


    You gotta love a looksie! Many a shouldering through brambles/nettles, lugging up unridable slopes in the woods. Well worth it as I’ve chanced upon so much lovely trail this way.


    Yeah I do that. I like to find any patch of woodland on a map and ride to it to see if there’s any tracks through it. Trouble is I’m running out of bits I’ve not explored which are cyclable from my front door.

    Premier Icon njee20

    Not really a fan myself.

    I meticulously planned a route using BikeHike in the summer, from my house, down to the South Downs, along the SDW and back up the Downs Link and such. Was pretty good fun, not amazing, a lot of it was fireroads and fields and what not.

    No substitute for Surrey Hills singletrack, but a nice change. No massive urge to do the same ride again though, imagine much of it will be crap in winter.

    That’s the first time I’ve really done anything like that, just stick to what I know otherwise!


    I like exploring too – up to a point. Locally, yes.

    If I’ve gone on a trip somewhere, it usually takes a fair bit of time which is something I don’t usually have lots of spare. As such, I’d rather not recreate many experiences from when I was younger when weekends’ riding were often crap when routes that looked good on paper turned out to be rubbish. Memorable sometimes but not great riding.

    Premier Icon njee20

    The thing I always struggle with is that bridleways are generally well signed and reasonably maintained, but there’s a good chance they’re dull.

    Footpaths can be more interesting, but (legalities aside) they’re often either impassable due to stiles etc, or are vastly overgrown with rotting signs and you can’t actually find them!

    It’s a shame really, as there are many many footpaths that radiate from my village, but none of them are actually rideable. There’s a bridleway that starts a couple of miles away, but that starts off through a mess of brambles then follows very rutted fields for a while!


    Another weirdo here. ..a day out in the hills is its own reward, although shouldering the bike through brambles gets a bit emotional at times

    Premier Icon scotroutes

    All the time.

    When I lived near Edinburgh I started to record them all as I was beginning to lose track. They ended up on a Google Earth Map that I’ve sinced shared around.

    I now do path surveys for the Scottish Rights of Way Society and these are sometimes trying to look for what might remain of a very old track, and trying to find it in amongst newer tracks and roads. It’s very satisfying to navigate across barren moorland for a few miles and still find a little bit of old track or an ancient bridge in the middle of nowhere.


    nah, done lots of that and lots to do, for variety me and gf use often see where the cheap travelodges are and then work that area, living in hope of a motorhome …….

    I’ve had everything from a 1 mile carry through knee deep mud/tussocks to being investigated by golden eagle and being able to look down on the tops of two RAF jets, as well as some gorgeous tracks

    Just back from Norfolkish, where by pure chance did one of the best bimbles we’ve ever had, coast, beach, moor, forest, windmills, sleepy villages, south shore (*ramblers boardwalks), birds, endless dragonflies, sunshine, happy ramblers


    Yes, exploring all the time!

    Custom OS paper maps help visualise where to explore and check contours better when compared to online OS maps such as Bing
    Mixing some known trails and some exploring means all rides will be mostly positive even if all the exploring is shocking
    Climb where you know you can (road or known good trail section) and explore down hill helps save pushing up some steep muddy section which would have been a perfectly rideable descent
    GPS to log the new rides is nice and means if faced with a bad section it is easy and stress free to plan another route on the go
    Google street viewing the start and end of new sections where they meet roads is perhaps the best way to avoid boring/ boggy trails- if it looks like the bridleway just crosses a field then you might not want that as the highlight of your exploring route!
    Ask locals, ride with clubs… easy ways to find new fun stuff to ride

    It is so easy to explore with the technology and mapping we have available nowadays it is such a shame to get lazy and ride the same stuff all the time IMO


    To me exploring is what mountain biking is about. Don’t really connect with the red bull rampage end of things and even though I like going down hill fast getting out into the wilds, peace and quiet is a much more fulfilling experience.

    Premier Icon Northwind

    I like a bit of exploring but I also like to know there’s a decent chance of finding something. Getting hints off the internet or strava or whatever doesn’t mean you know what you’re going to find, a new trail or a new view’s exactly the same whether you suspected it might be there or not.

    If you want to actually explore, sorry chaps, you’re a bit too late. Unless you fancy cycling in deep space or the bottom of the sea.

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