Top rides in the Cotswolds that stand up to the winter weather, which trails don't turn to bog and slop in the rain.
When the clocks roll back and the nights draw in the weather in Britain turns into a seemingly perpetual rain storm. When there is a break in the weather or for those of us who will ride in any weather finding the best trails to ride can be the difference between fun and never again. I've done rides in the wet that have taken an hour and a half to cover distance that normally takes 20 minutes. Some routes and trails stand up well in the wet where as others especially in the Cotswold clay just turn to a sticky mess.
So lets have a round up of trails that run well no matter what the worst of the weather throughs at us. The south western end of the Cotswolds have the best trails for winter riding as they are more rock and less mud, the Cotswold clay being famed for its claggyness.
Making the most of the hills the route drains well, while there are some sloppy bits and one descent never dries, most of the route stands up very well. With rocky descents and no field crossings this route is good all year round. Whilst there will be puddles in the wet they are no boggy areas to bring to to a grinding halt.
Whilst the roots on the Browns Folly traverse can be slippy when wet, however the route has very little in the way of mud that will slow you down. The Conkwell descents cant get a little muddy but I find that sometimes this can offer more grip on the off camber lines.
Even though the trails in Ellwood are all off piste they stand up pretty well and although there are puddles the trails don't bog down. The only downfall with Ellwood is that some of the puddles are prime Wild Bore bathing and can be a little on the smelly side.
Being a trail centre the main trails of Verderas and Freeminers are well prepared with hardpack. The downhill trails and freeminers extension are more natural and tend to be a lot muddier. We tend to avoid the Freeminers extension in all but the best weather as its not riding as much as the main trails and does hold the water.
Right on the edge of the Cotswolds the trails are generally rocky and have very little mud on them. The steeper trails in Buckholt and Popes woods drain well along with being fairly rocky they ride well all year round.
This route survives winter incredible well, with lost of rocky ascents and descents, there is very little in the way of deep mud to get stuck in. We will ride this in any conditions, even when it's -8°c although one of the descents was an ice run.
This route can be pretty muddy in places, but deserves a spot in good winter rides as its short and sweet. The other reason for this ride being good in winter is the 2in1 pie pub, great for warming up afterwards.
There we have it no excuses not to ride through the winter, it's just a case of choosing the right route for the conditions and avoiding those that don't hold up in the winter rains. For more rides in the Cotswolds head over to the Cotswold route section.