Archive for Moutanin Biking

Jo’s adventure cycling through majestic Burma

Bizarrely the thing I have noticed most since I’ve been cycling in Burma is you just don’t sweat! Maybe I’m used to the humidity of a jungle environment but Burma is barren and the heat is dry!

The temperature is 37 degrees and, and after being transferred out of Mandalay to a small town on the outskirts, we begun our Burma Cycle challenge. I have now been cycling for a couple of hours in the heat. I imagined that the pagodas would be hidden away, but to my surprise it’s not very long before I spot one! And then another and another, and finally the most magnificent temple as the icing on the cake!  While we were in Mandalay we had the pleasure of coming across a street where the gold umbrellas of a Stupa (a Buddhist monument) are hand chiseled and crafted into this striking piece of art that is so common on Burmese temples. Watching it be transformed from a solid lump of metal to the beautiful artwork that we see is incredible.

The second thing I notice in Burma is the astounding kindness and genuineness of the people. They are always willing to help where they can. We hear calls of “Min guh la ba” (Hello!) from all ages as we pass. I’ve been cycling for 30 minutes before I notice that my handlebar frame is slightly off centre, so we stop to fix it and before long we have a team of mechanics by our side. Older men are squatting to help support our bike, their hands holding up the frames and wheels, while the children’s intrigued eyes are watching my guide, Zaw Lin, at work. These are, I have to say, the nicest people I have met so far!

Today we are on route to Bagan to find something that’s a little off the beaten track, and we stumble across a village with locals making incense and pots. The village roads (a.k.a. dirt trails) prove to be a little sandy, making cycling tricky, but the warmth from the villagers is just what we came here for. We get stuck behind a herd of goats and their master, which is picture perfect. Turning a corner we see a magnificent temple so out of place in this tiny village. Yet this is Burma so not out of place at all!
Our detour comes to an end and we are back on the road heading to Bagan, where we are picked up for a two hour boat ride up the river with an entrance view of the temples of Bagan. What a reward for a long hot dusty cycle. Later that evening we take our bikes to cycle the temples and watch the sunset! If cycling in Burma always had these rewards at the end, then the challenge will be a breeze!

We depart Bagan for Mount Popa, where our gently undulating terrain turns to a few short steeper climbs. However, the good news is that for every uphill there is a wonderful downhill! I soon start cursing those mountain bike wheels as they stick to the tar road and, despite building up a fair speed, don’t get me anywhere near close to even starting the next hill! So I drop my gears and slowly but surely start the climb as the sun is so kindly showing its intensity once again. Wishing I had trained for hilly terrain I am feeling that burn when a group of kids pop out waving and shouting hello. This helps to spur me on, and on passing them I see my shaded resting point where a cold glass of water and a good body stretch is waiting for me.

It’s been a tough climb today to Mount Popa but once again the reward is always there. After climbing 770 steps up to the temple I can see what I’ve achieved, as my cycle route meanders off into the distance!

For more information on our Cycle Burma, please click here. If you have any questions on this challenge, please contact us on info@charitychallenge.com. To see more information about the array of amazing challenges we have, please visit our website at www.charitychallenge.com. To keep up to date on all our challenge news, please subscribe to this blog. You can also enter your email address into the adjacent box to subscribe to our mailing list.

Our Range of “Great British Challenges”

As a company, Charity Challenge has previously concentrated and specialized in overseas challenges, with incredible new challenges such as our Burma Cycle and Cycle Zambia being recently launched onto our website. However, the recent summer weather has been an inspiration to us, and proof that to experience the great outdoors you need look no further than your own back garden!! We’ve launched a range of new challenges within the UK, and still have a couple more up our sleeves so watch this space!

This blog is designed to talk you through our new fantastic range of UK challenges and the differences of these challenges in terms of fitness, difficulty, length etc, in order for you to find the most suitable one for you.

Trekking Challenges

Yorkshire 3 Peaks
This is a 2 day/1 night challenge in the Yorkshire Dales. As a ‘starter’ UK challenge it is a good one for people who have never trekked or hiked before, and involves a night of camping.

As with most of our other UK challenges, you arrive in the late afternoon before beginning the trek the next day. The trekking day is long – around 11 hours depending on the group’s speed, and 38km in total!

However, the peaks in Yorkshire are not as high or demanding as the likes of our other treks, and it is a nice introduction to hill walking in the UK. The highest peak, Whernside, stands at 736m, and the terrain is a mixture of tracks and moorland. The ascents and descents are not too tough, although trekking poles would be an advantage.

Lake District 5 Peaks Challenge
Again a 2 day/1 night challenge, this time in the Lake District, with one night’s camping. This is a step-up from the Yorkshire 3 Peaks challenge, although not in terms of length, as with 23km of distance to trek this challenge is actually 15km shorter than the Yorkshire challenge. However, the peaks become much more demanding in terms of terrain and height, and there are 2 extra summits to ascend before the end of the day.

The beauty of this challenge is that it involves climbing Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain.

This stands at 978m and is the final peak climbed throughout the day. It’s a great challenge for those who have done some hill walking but would like to challenge themselves within a tougher environment. It would also be a great training trek for tougher challenges like Kilimanjaro or Everest.

24 Peaks Challenge
This is our toughest UK trek, and certainly one for those people who have done long hikes previously, preferably summiting Snowdon, Scafell Pike or Ben Nevis before.

The trek takes place over a full weekend, and lasts 3 days/2 nights. Each day will last around 12 hours, with a distance of 18kms hiked. Don’t be fooled by this being a UK challenge – it is incredibly tough, as the days are long and there are constant ascents and descents which take their toll on the legs.  The terrain is varied, from rocky inclines and scrambling sections to long stretches of moorland

One difference from the Yorkshire 3 Peaks and the 5 Peaks challenge is that the accommodation is in a hostel rather than a campsite. Again, this challenge would be excellent training for tougher mountain challenges like Kilimanjaro or Everest.

Cycling Challenges

Coast to Coast Cycle Challenge
The classic English cycle challenge! Our route takes you from the Irish Sea in Whitehaven to the North Sea at Whitley Bay, Newcastle, during a challenge that lasts 3 days and 2 nights.

There are some very tough climbs during the 2 day cycle, and with 80 miles a day this is a difficult challenge which will require a lot of pre-challenge training. Although it isn’t necessary for you to have previously cycled, if this is the case then at least 6 months is recommended to train and reach the standard desired to be able to complete the challenge. You should be able to maintain a steady speed of at least 8 miles an hour.

Racing bikes are not really suitable for this challenge; touring bikes are preferred, in consideration of the terrain. While much of the cycle takes place on country roads, there are many sections which are potholed or gravelly, and a few short sections which pass over off-road trails, and would be risky with road tyres.

Overall, this is a great challenge for those who are ready to take on something more challenging, although you should certainly have cycled a long day before, and preferably cycled for 2 consecutive days in training.

London to Paris Cycle Challenge
Although not strictly within the UK, we thought that this challenge merited inclusion as a step-up from 2-day weekend cycling expeditions.
As a 4 day challenge, which involves 3 days of cycling and one free day in Paris, this is slightly longer than most people might be used to and is a real test of endurance. The first day out of London is tough in terms of climbs and ascents, as it winds its way through the North and South Downs, to Portsmouth.

The 2nd day is the longest, at 74 miles, and proves a real test as you are still recovering from the first day’s cycle. The final ascent into Paris on day 3 is a climb of 1000m, and really pushes your endurance with another long distance of over 60 miles.

This is an endurance challenge which can test you to the limits, and is certainly for someone who is looking for a challenge. You should have cycled for at least 2 consecutive long days, hitting distances of 60 – 70 miles each day, in order to feel prepared for this challenge.

Something for everyone!

Snowdon Multi-Activity Challenge
This is a really exciting challenge and for someone who fancies something a little more varied. A 2 day/1 night challenge, this itinerary gives you the chance to cycle, trek and kayak in the Snowdonia National Park. It is for someone with a good overall fitness, but not necessarily someone who is a keen cyclist for example.

The cycling is only 12 miles, but the national park is incredibly hilly and so there will be some good climbs to take on. The group then summits Snowdon, which will require endurance and certainly some experience of hill walking. The final activity is a 3.5km kayaking section. This doesn’t require experience, but a good level of fitness is necessary to be able to continue after the tough cycle and trek.

It is very different to our other trek and cycling challenges on offer, but an amazing chance to experience all sides of Snowdonia and test your endurance to the limit.

To see more information about the array of amazing challenges we have, please visit our website at www.charitychallenge.com. To keep up to date on all our challenge news, please subscribe to this blog. You can also enter your email address into the adjacent box to subscribe to our mailing list.

Finding The Right Mountain Bike Trail For You

Mountain bike trails in the UK are growing in number as the popularity of the sport increases. Today as the sport has matured (it’s been around over 30 years now) there are literally hundreds of dedicated mountain bike trail centres across all of Scotland, England and Wales. There is bound to be one near you.

The growth  of mountain bike trail centres has made mountain biking much more accessible. This is because they come equipped with facilities to make it easy. They have car parks, toilets, cafes, bike hire and most importantly managed trails.  These trail centres also have the advantage of having waymarked routes. They are colour coded for simplicity and they start at “green” for beginners and family riders, “blue” for novices, “red” for intermediate riders and “black” for expert and highly skilled technically competent riders. Orange  is often used these days also and is a grading for bike parks with a dot system that goes from 1 dot to 3 dots as difficulty level rises.  Some of the most renowned MTB centres are Afan Forest In Wales, Glentress in Scotland and Cannock Chase in England. There are many more.

Ever popular and where it all started is traditional natural cross country natural trails of which the UK has in abundance. In England we’d recommend The Peaks and The Lakes. Scotland, Dunkeld and Wales the Brecon Beacons amongst others (the list is long mind). Mountain biking though has many facets and disciplines. As well as Trail Centre and Cross Country riding there are Bike Parks with jumps, drops, 4X and shore, Pump Tracks and the highly popular Downhill tracks. Renowned downhill centres are Nevis Range in Scotland, Aston Hill in England and Antur Stiniog in Wales.

To help you navigate all this there are a number of websites. IBIKERide  is one and is a Mountain Bike Trail community website that has a number of mountain bike trails tools to help you out:

MTB Trail Map
The MTB trail map lets you easily view all the MTB trails on a map of the UK. You can zoom in and out and even do a postcode or town search to find the trails nearest to you.

Mountain Bike Trails Search
Here you can search for trails by country, county, ability level and discipline. You can then sort these by latest trails, most popular and best and worst review ratings.

UK Mountain Bike Trail Index
IBIKERide list the top  UK trails as defined by the UK public who vote via the reviews they leave. It’s a community led tool so if you get to ride a trail then please come add your voice and share that experience on the site by leaving a short review.

Mountain Bike Beginners Guide
The beginners guide to mountain biking contains explanations on the different disciplines of mountain biking,  advice on places to ride, how to choose the right bike, where to find riders to ride with and what to prepare for your  first few rides. You can also ask any question to our friendly community of new and experienced riders.

So whatever type of mountain bike rider you are and whatever type of mountain bike trails you are looking for we can help you on your way.

Daniel Mintz
http://www.ibikeride.com
Helping you find the trails you’ll love