Guest Blog: Monica Catalano, Virginia, USA

A wee day out on the South Downs…

3 Bonnie Lasses

Despite what the title may imply, I wasn’t in Scotland for this adventure – England actually! However, I spent the day biking with two lovely ladies from Edinburgh, which made the trip all the more enjoyable and inspired the title of this post. One of the many great things about living in London is that you can easily make your way to the beautiful English countryside in under an hour. A quick trip on the train and you’ll forget about the hustle and bustle of London life as you breath in the fresh country air!

Guided Ride South Downs MTB Day out

Just an hour away

Mountain biking in the UK was something I wanted to experience while living there, so I linked up with Sean Howell of Marmalade MTB for an exciting day out exploring the South Downs! Sean is an avid mountain biker who, not so long ago, spent 10 months traveling the world seeking out the best mountain biking trails. His travels took him across South America and New Zealand, so, needless to say, he was a wealth of information! Inspired by his travels, he decided to start his own guiding business upon returning to the UK. Sean’s approach is one I can truly appreciate – he’s focused on personal attention, small group rides and in-depth knowledge of his home trails. Mountain biking in the UK was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. Much of the day was spent riding out in the open fields where we were exposed to the elements – something I definitely wasn’t used to! In addition, I had spent a good 9 months off the saddle, so the climbs were challenging, to say the least. However, the views along the English coastline were incredible and unforgettable!

Guided Ride South Downs MTB Day out Birling gap mountain biking

Cream teas & MTB

Birling Gap, part of the spectacular “Seven Sisters,” is an unforgettable place to see some of the infamous white chalk cliffs that coastal England is known for. After a break to take some photos and enjoy one of the best scones with clotted cream and jam, we saddled back up to continue our journey. With some good climbs ahead and a turn in the weather (only to be expected in England!) I still managed to keep a smile on my face!

Friston Flow

Sean promised a great South Downs MTB day out with a mixture of a good ol’ fashioned cross-country, stuff to see and serpentine singletrack to deliver us straight to our post ride pint. I think Ellie, Donna and I had forgotten all about the promise of such sweet singletrack as Sean led the way up the final climb of the day out of Jevington. What an awesome way to earn that beer. With what seemed like mile after mile of old-skool, flowing trails that left even the ‘Enduro-Ellie’ bouncing. I only wish I had explored more of the UK’s mountain biking scene while living in London, but I’m so glad that I had such a fun day to end on. Thanks to Sean, Ellie and Donna for a fantastic day of riding! Definitely give Sean a holler if you’re interested in guided mountain biking in the UK. Ride on!

Guided Ride South Downs MTB Day out Birling gap mountain biking

The Wandering Mountain Bike-Her

Love to read about Monica’s adventures across the globe? Check out her website.

Monthly Guided Rides

New 2019 – Stanmer Park

City Limits Singletrack

Birling Gap Bash

Classic South Downs XC

New 2019 – Friston Forest

Festooned with singletrack

New 2019 – Whiteways

Classic South Downs Singletrack

Slindon Shred

A Cracking XC Adventure

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