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Why we should all do our bit for charity (especially if it involves mountain bikes)

Brought to you by the British Heart Foundation

You may look at that headline and wonder if you’re still reading Dirt but stick with us on this one. You may not realise but every time you take to your mountain bike you’re probably relying on some form of charity or volunteering to enjoy your ride.

Don’t believe us? Well:

  • In the first instance, trail advocacy groups, such as Ride Sheffield, liaise with landowners to open up more land for UK riders.
  • The trails themselves are then funded thanks to public grants.
  • Local volunteers give up their time and labour to keep the trails in tip-top shape.
  • At each race you go to the track will be lined with marshals who are only paid in bacon butties and cups of tea.
  • And, should it all go wrong, you could well be relying on charities such as the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association to get you out of trouble.

In return we get to enjoy the woodlands of this green and pleasant land for next to nothing and that’s something we should all be more grateful of. So, it’s probably a good idea for us all to give something back too. Don’t worry though, we’re not asking you to do a bake sale or sponsored sky dive, instead you can do the thing you like the most – shredding some trails – and still do some good.

Want to know how? Well, one of the best (and easiest) ways is to just sign up for one of the British Heart Foundation off-road rides coming up later this year. Charity rides may not be usual Dirt fodder but we’re not averse to a bit of pedalling every now and again, especially if it involves a bunch of mates, quality routes and a few bevvies to top it all off at the finish line.

 

British Heart Foundation staged photo shoot in Bedgebury Forest on 14 May 2014. Photo by Sarah Ansell / Sarah Ansell Photography.

The BHF are offering three rides: London to Southend, London to Eastbourne and London to Brighton:

London to Brighton – 24 September – 70 miles

Of all the rides this one will probably appeal to a dedicated mountain biker the most. The London to Brighton is Europe’s largest charity mountain biking event and it slices through the Surrey Hills and the South Downs for 73 miles as it takes you from Roehampton University down to the seafront at Brighton.

Don’t be fooled into thinking you’ll be surrounded by a bunch of weight weenie roadies out for a jolly though, in previous years has been up to 95 per cent off road – you’ll need a decent mountain bike and a good pair of legs to complete this ride. The highlight is probably the long, final descent down from Truleigh Hill, you definitely earn it on the way up though!

For more information, click here.

Matt Pitts

London to Southend – 21 August – 40 miles

If you’re after something a bit more sedate then the London to Southend could be the ride for you. It’s an easier 40 miles but still allows you to take in some decent off road sections and finishes on the 2012 Olympic XC course, which is more technical than you might imagine.

It starts at Ingrebourne Valley, just inside the M25, and follows the estuary down to Hadleigh Farm

For more information, click here.

London to Eastbourne – 10 September – 67 miles

If you want to take someone along who’s not a serious mountain biker we recommend this route. It still avoids the roads but it will also avoid anything overly technical that might intimidate a novice. It’s suitable for a hybrid and more about simply enjoying the ride rather than proving how gnarly you are.

The route makes good use of the Cuckoo trail to wind you through the Garden of England to the English Channel on a sedate and easy route.

For more information, click here.

About the British Heart Foundation

Every three minutes, someone in the UK suffers a heart attack. Coronary heart disease is the UK’s single biggest killer. It can affect anyone of any age, of any background. It ruthlessly rips loved ones away from their families, sometimes without so much as a chance to say goodbye. But the British Heart Foundation are fighting back. They’re funding research that will reduce the number of premature deaths, help those suffering and one day find a cure for heart disease. And by taking part in one of these events you can show your support for their fight.

Sponsored by British Heart Foundation

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