How can it be cheating if there are no rules?

How can it be cheating if there are no rules?

E-Bikes are taking over the world. What are we going to do about it?

What the hell is an E-bike? Sadly, they are not a range of Yorkshire bikes. Instead, they are bikes where a motor assists your pedalling. Power assisted means that the motor only works when the pedals go round. So, no pedalling=no power. Simple really.

Fat E-bike

Fat E-bike

Like it or not, if you are keeping up with current mountain biking affairs, you need to have thought about them. If you want to think of yourself as abreast of current developments, then you probably ought to have an opinion about them.

Which brings me to cheating…

Disgruntled of South Angryton

I read a letter recently in a popular mountain biking magazine on the subject. The writer definitely had an opinion on E-bikes:

“E-bikes are not real mountain bikes and the people who ride them are not real mountain bikers.”

This definition of people who are different from yourself as “not real” whatever, comes up a lot in situations far more serious than mountain biking (usually associated with unpleasantly narrow definitions of belonging and nationalism). It really raised my hackles.

It also made me think: who are you to set the rules and tell me how to ride my bike?

“Road cyclists would not tolerate their world being invaded by cheating E-bikes”

Now we come to it: they’re bad because it’s cheating. Cheating whom, exactly?

The rules

There are always rules for things. A group of roadies have compiled a set of ever-so-slighty tongue in cheek Rules for riding on the road. They’re worth reading if you haven’t already.

For the purposes of mountain biking there are rules, they come in a set of broad categories:

Safety rules

These are rules that enable you to get home in the same number of pieces as you set off. Things like: make sure your bike is working properly, have a plan for if someone has an accident, check the weather and plan accordingly, don’t ride off a cliff, don’t ride the wrong way along a trail centre trail.

They’re fairly self-evident and it’s a good idea to follow them.

Legal rules

In Britain, legal rules mostly boil down to access: where are you allowed to ride? Bridleways are fine. Footpaths are not. If it isn’t a road, bridleway, BOAT or restricted by-way then the chances are you’re not supposed to be there. You can also count things like closing gates, not chewing up trails, slowing down for pedestrians and horses.

Following these rules minimises the chance you’ll get into trouble with the law. It’s a good idea to follow them.

Social rules

Now we’re into etiquette. We’re talking about things like: be nice to each other, offer to help people who might need it, don’t go haring past someone who is slower.

These rules are there to make everyone’s life that little bit better because we’re basically being nice and looking out for each other.

Level playing-field rules

This is really what disgruntled is talking about. The bikes aren’t breaking any safety rules, they’re not against the law, social rules are largely down to the person in the saddle rather than the bike.

So what rules has the E-biker broken? They’re cheating. They’re gaining an unfair advantage. They’ve broken the rules that keep the playing-field level.


Competition. Competition is about comparing things to see which one is better. In order to make it a fair comparison you need rules to ensure that you are comparing like with like. If you are comparing how fast two cyclists are, then you need rules to ensure that you’re comparing the two cyclists.

E bikes World Championships

E bikes World Championships

This is where being motor assisted breaks the rules: It’s unfair to compare a cyclist using only their legs against one who has a motor. Motors are big news in the worlds of road and cyclocross racing.

So they’re cheating then? Only if you’re racing. Only if you want to compare one rider with another. Only if the first person across the line is important.

You might have noticed that I didn’t appear at the Olympics this year.

Rio Olympic Mountain Bike- Men

If you’re not racing then you can’t possibly be cheating

Simple really. If your bike is safe, if you’re following the law and you’re polite then you’re grand. From where I’m sitting, my charges are already cheating by not carrying the havy leader’s bag that the safety, legal and social rules dictate I carry with me.

I’m not racing. Yes, I Strava my rides but I’m not going to get that upset if someone goes faster than me because I’m really not racing. In this case, the only person I’m competing with is myself.

So, if I’m not racing then you’re not cheating on your E-bike. We can go ride together.

It’s far more important to me that you’re enjoying yourself.

So, what am I going to do about E-bikes? Go out for a ride with them. That’s what.

Posted by BackPedalling Andy in Thoughts, 0 comments
Hampshire Bowman Festival Ride: Sunday 31st July

Hampshire Bowman Festival Ride: Sunday 31st July

Cracking singletrack, stunning views and two of the area’s best loved pubs. What more could you ask for on a ride?

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What is it like?

This is a tour of some of the lovely trails, villages and pubs in this part of the world. What’s not to like?

This ride shows off some of the quiet green lanes and forgotten paths through Hampshire that are ideal for relaxed riding. The mix is spiced up with some lovely woodland singletrack which is lovely at this time of the year.

To keep the adrenaline going there are a few great descents that will keep you on your toes but are a hoot whatever speed you ride them at.

You want views across the downs too? We’ve got them in spades at various points along the way.

Oh, and there are those pubs too. One of them is having a beer festival on the day of the ride.

How can you say no?

Where is it?

We’ll be setting off from the Hampshire Bowman pub in Dundridge, heading in the direction of Owslebury before swinging through Upham on the way back.

Stops in villages will depend on how the group is feeling when we get there. There will definitely be the opportunity for a pub stop at the Bowman on our return.

[Google_Maps_WD id=4 map=4]

Who is it for?

There’s a fair amount of up and down in this ride, some of it is quite steep but all of it is perfectly rideable if you take your time. So you will need to be able to ride for a few hours.

There is nothing too technical so most people with a reasonable level of fitness will be fine.

pdf Important information about the ride

How far are we going?

Expect to be riding for 2-3 hours plus a few stops.

Whilst the pubs we stop at serve food, it’s a really good idea to bring some sustenance for the ride.
Join the ride

Posted by BackPedalling Andy in Rides, 0 comments
Ancient Britain: Devil’s Humps and Jumps

Ancient Britain: Devil’s Humps and Jumps

From hillforts to Bronze Age cemeteries, this ride takes in some of West Sussex’s most impressive ancient monuments. If that weren’t enough there are massive views and cracking riding too.

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What is it?

This ride really is a grand day out. Riding under big skies for most of the day, you’ll get views over Chichester, the Isle of White and out to sea. You couldn’t ask for a more scenic ride.

Along the way we’ll stop off at The Trundle, an Iron Age hillfort with impressive ramparts; the Devil’s Humps, a collection of Bronze Age barrows in a spectacular hilltop location and the Devil’s Jumps, another collection of Bronze Age barrows. It’s as spectacular a selection of monuments as you could get on a single ride.

I’ve got this far without mentioning the riding: It’s got everything the South Downs has to offer. You’ll get broad tracks under open skies, you’ll get winding woodland trails and helter-skelter down-scarp plummets. It’s got everything you could want in a ride.


Where is it?

The ride starts in the South Downs Way car park on the A286 just south of Cocking in West Sussex.

We’ll be taking in part of the South Downs ridgeline and two hills to the south.

Who is for?

This is a ride for those who enjoy riding and like views.

We’ll be going up and down a fair bit, so some fitness is needed for this ride. You need to be confident you can ride for a few hours.

There’s nothing too technical and certainly nothing that can’t be ridden at walking pace should you prefer. Should you wish to, the descents are a lot of fun taken at speed too.

The pace will be determined by the group, so don’t worry about not being able to go fast enough.

How far is it?

Expect to be riding for about three hours. We can add or subtract bits of the ride to suit the group.

There will be plenty of stops, particularly at the monuments so definitely bring food.

pdfImportant information

When is it?

The ride is on Sunday July 24th.

We’ll start at 10 am, so aim to be there at least 15 minutes beforehand so we can get faffing and fettling sorted.

We should be back at the cars between 2:00 and 2:30.
Join the ride

Posted by BackPedalling Andy in Uncategorised, 0 comments
Riding through a rainforest

Riding through a rainforest

I nipped out for a quick ride this morning and was faced with some of the oddest conditions I’ve ever experienced.

I’ve been riding in this area for a decade. I know what to expect in any given month. I know which trails to avoid in winter because they’re too muddy and which to avoid in summer because they’re overgrown. I know which ones have a sweet spot in spring and autumn when they achieve “goldilocks” conditions. I know these trails like the back of my gloves.

It’s almost July. July means, dry trails, dust motes in the air and lots of free speed. It also usually means lots of vegetation and a sea of green every time I go into the woods.

That’s what I was expecting

Yes, there is a lot of greenery out there. An awful lot. The amateur botanist in me suggests that the warm winter, the bright spring and the incredibly wet conditions over the last few weeks have given everything a massive growth spurt. So there really is green absolutely everywhere, some trails are narrower than usual but some are utterly impassable because of the vegetation. It gets even more exciting when the weight of the water is causing things to lean over more and I’ve seen several trees come down in the last couple of weeks. It’s also REALLY humid out there. It’s overcast, sweaty and close.

What really caught me unawares, though, was the sheer amount of mud out there. I’ve not seen that level of mud since April. Some places are clarty as anything and others are really quite skitey at the moment.

Crab Wood Rainforest

Crab Wood Rainforest: local trails this morning

It’s weird. It’s as though I’m riding through all the fun of summer and all the fun of winter at the same time. I’ve got shortened the sight-lines and nettle-dodging of summer combined with the mud spray and sideways riding of winter. All whilst boiling in the bag.

It’s like riding through a rainforest. I came home soaked and caked in mud.

I also came home grinning like a loon. It was great fun.

Posted by BackPedalling Andy in Rides, 0 comments
Get into mountain biking: Crab Wood

Get into mountain biking: Crab Wood

Wednesday June 22nd 6:30pm

This short and sweet ride is a super introduction to mountain biking.

Register Now Book your place on this ride.

There are no big climbs so it’s not too strenuous and the scenery is lovely. The descents are all sweeping woodland singletrack that are an absolute hoot and make the most of the height we’ve gained. There is nothing to fear and a lot to enjoy on this ride.

The ride starts from Crab Wood Car Park on Sarum Rd (a few hundred yards west of the cross roads with Sparsholt Rd) and takes us round Crab wood. The ride is mostly bridleway with occasional quiet roads. The exact route will be tailored to the group on the day, so you know it will be right
for you.

Not too much up and a little bit of down, mostly through pretty woods on friendly dirt. You can’t really ask for more.

Register Now Book your place on this ride.

pdf Important information and joining instructions for the ride.

Below is a map of the meeting point.

[Google_Maps_WD id=2 map=2]

Posted by BackPedalling Andy in Uncategorised, 0 comments