Words by #TeamRutland ambassador Lee Hopkinson.
Rutland Cycling Grafham Water
If you haven't been to Grafham Water then you are missing out on a gem of ride. It is situated in the North east of Cambridgeshire, close to both the North of Bedfordshire and the east of Northamptonshire and is easily accessible with good road links.
The main route is a 10-mile loop which consists mainly of hard packed fire roads which are rideable all year round, even the depth of winter. It does have a few climbs, nothing too challenging or technical but still enough to get the heart rate going.
The main loop can be enjoyed by the whole family, from novices or to the more experienced riders out there. There are plenty of places to stop to have a quick (or longer if required) drink/bite to eat without being in the way of other riders. While the route is shared by both walkers & runners, it is wide enough for safe passing without causing any issues.
As well as this main loop, there is also plenty of single track to find & explore for the more adventurous riders who want to challenge themselves to either ride further or on more technical terrain. There are plenty of facilities on hand with various carparks around the loop, these do incur a small fee which helps with the upkeep of the area. There are two caf�s on opposite sides of the Water for that all-important mid/post ride coffee & cake stop.
The main car park that I use is the Marlow carpark (PE28 0BH), which is also the location for Rutland Cycling Grafham, a great shop with friendly staff that not only offers all the usual stuff (bike sales, work shop, accessories etc) that you would expect, but also bike hire, which is a great way to get involved for those that may not have a bike and also offers the chance to try something new such as e-bikes. The shop even offers a bike cleaning service, perfect for those winter months letting you sit back and enjoy a coffee & cake whilst your bike is being cleaned. Pop in a and say hi to Danny and the team for some good friendly advice for all your bike related needs.
Since becoming part of #TeamRutland I have been involved in running social rides from the shop, which I have really enjoyed, and I am keen to see grow; the rides are open to all whether a newbie or an experienced rider. The most important aspect of these social rides is enjoyment for all, and it's really pleasing to hear when a rider says that they have done or tried something they wouldn't usually do. This could be riding a slightly more technical section or simply riding further or faster. On these rides we ride at speeds that are suitable for all so no one is ever left behind or made to feel uncomfortable. The ride can be as challenging as the group want to make it, and we can be quite fluid with the route depending the experience/needs of the group or even the weather.
I have been riding bikes since the mid-seventies. Starting out on a Raleigh Budgie with stabilisers, progressing through many bikes including a Raleigh Strika and BMX Raleigh Burner to my first mountain bike in 1988. I initially started out using the mountain bike as part of my training for Motocross which I had been racing since the age of 6. Due to family issues at the age of 20, I decided to stop racing Motocross so needed something to fill the void which it had left and XC mountain biking racing fitted the bill perfectly. So, after many, many bikes (just ask the wife!) and travelling across the UK for the last 26 years, I am still competing (well trying to) in the ultra-competitive class of the Vets - those who really should really know better, but hey it goes to show age is just a number!
Apart from the racing side, I just love to get and out ride, anything from commutes to work or midweek social rides. My goals for this year are to continue to race, this will be in the Southern series, Eastern series, selected Nationals and the local Friday Night Summer series, I also plan to do the following supportive rides, Summer Solstice 100 miles, Leatherheadz 3 Shires ride and the Numplumz marathon. Last year I managed to ride just under 5000 miles so need to beat that this year! I also look forward to finding new routes in the countryside we are blessed to have around Northamptonshire, Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire, so will hopefully see some of you out and about!
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