Today's Weather
Church Stretton
20 February, 2019, 3:44 am
real feel: 1°C
current pressure: 1010 mb
humidity: 85%
wind speed: 6 m/s SSW
wind gusts: 8 m/s
sunrise: 7:18 am
sunset: 5:33 pm


Pole Bank Trail Re-Surfacing

This week we have had mountain bikers, both local and from further afield complain about how they (in this instance “they” are National Trust and Shropshire Council working in partnership) have surfaced the track from Pole Cottage to Pole Bank and down to the Medlicott junction therefore ruining it for mountain bikers. Having ridden the freshly surfaced track I happen to agree, as a keen mountain biker the trail now lacks any real challenge, sanitized of its natural features, a real shame.

However, we need to get some perspective on the matter. Firstly the Long Mynd is not actually exclusively a Mountain Bike centre, we (as Mountain Bikers) are only a small party of users, and many different people use the hill for recreation and a place of work. So why bother re-surfacing? The path is a public right of way and is a bridlepath. The surface was not conducive to horse’s feet with large loose stones. The main issue is that the path is getting wider over time as users move into the heather in order to avoid stones. We have seen this before in the 1990s when two or three paths become opened up and what was once a beautiful looking hillside looks scarred and damaged. The new wider, smoother path will now also allow access to Pole Bank for less active and less able users.

If making a mile of Long Mynd trail less interesting for some Mountain Bikers means that Pole Bank is accessible to wheelchair users and families then what’s the problem? As a consequence of this work potentially more people will be able to enjoy the view from Pole Bank and more people have an introduction to the great outdoors and might be inspired to get into Mountain Biking.

Re-Surfacing Work at Pole Bank, April 2014

Re-Surfacing Work at Pole Bank, April 2014

The management of Long Mynd is nothing new, many a trail has been surfaced and maintained to improve access and manage erosion. Many people comment on the natural beauty of the area, however it’s no longer natural, if it was not for the bracken burning and the grazing the beautiful heather would disappear, all the bridleways we ride are manmade, evolved from drovers roads and used for access for many years.

These trails and countryside need to be managed for all users, both people that work the land, and recreational users. It’s a job that requires finding a balance between conservation and development work like this. It’s a job that we appreciate as on the whole we benefit from the work. It’s also a job that we are glad we don’t have to do because you can’t please all of the people all of the time, we just hope that they are considerate and appreciate the common goal.

Wheels 2 Work

New electric bikes for Shropshire Wheels 2 Work and competition to name them

Job seekers in Shropshire have the chance to power over hills and arrive fresh for work, thanks to the purchase of new electric bikes (e-bikes) by Wheels 2 Work, part of leading local charity Shropshire RCC.  The scheme has just purchased seven new e-bikes, including three from Church Stretton’s Plush Hill cycles and are launching a competition to name them.

The e-bikes bought by Wheels 2 Work, will be loaned to those in need of transport to get to work, whether to take up a job offer or because they are at risk of losing their employment due to transport difficulties.  The Raleigh Dover bikes purchased from Plush Hill Cycles, come complete with a lithium battery with a range of about 30 miles and safety gear such as a helmet and high viz vest.  Members of the public are invited to submit names for each bike – with preference given to meaningful or funny names.

Chris Mason is a 29 year old manual worker from Clungunford. He was walking up to 15 miles a day in order to work at the Shropshire Spice Company in Clun. Chris joined the scheme in with November 2012 and has been trialling electric bikes for the scheme. The heavily subsidized loan has enabled him to save money for an e-bike – which he bought last week.

Davina Allen, Development Coordinator for Wheels 2 Work, said: “We work with our clients during their six month e-bike loan, giving them support and guidance they need to save money for their own transport.  Chris has been a fantastic client and I’m so pleased he’s now been able to buy an e-bike of his own.  We were really impressed by the service provided by Plush Hills and the quality of the bikes they provide”.

Since opening Plush Hill Cycles have been supplying quality electric bikes and service to rural commuters that demand reliability in all conditions. As a mountain and electric bike hire centre they have been promoting environmentally friendly pedal powered transport to local customers.  Plush Hill Cycles says: “We are delighted to be involved in such a worthwhile initiative that can literally change the lives of people living out in rural areas seeking independence and employment”.

Wheels 2 Work came up with the innovative idea to name their new bikes after struggling to see and remember long serial numbers.  Entrants should suggest a name and explain why it has been chosen.  Davina Allen said: “we’re hoping people respond with some good choices: the bikes could be named as a tribute to someone or just to make people laugh”.  Names should be submitted by 15th April to Wheels 2 Work by  telephone on 01743 237885 or on twitter @ShropsW2W.

About Wheels 2 Work

Shropshire Wheels 2 Work, part of Shropshire RCC, helps around 200 people each year get to work by providing transport advice and lending bikes, electric bikes and mopeds. The scheme was given a ‘Big Society Award’ by the Cabinet Office in February 2013.  To find out more about the scheme visit  or telephone 01743 237885.

Shropshire RCC is a leading local charity working with groups and individuals to improve quality of life and to strengthen communities in a rural county.

Plush Hill Cycles

Plush Hill Cycles is Church Stretton’s local bike shop and is very happy to get involved in anything linking the community and cycling from supporting charity events to help training young people in cycle maintenance, and selling, hiring and fixing bikes of course. For more information please visit or telephone 01694 720133.

Wheels 2 Work e-bike

Allen Timbrell from Plush Hill Cycles and Davina Allen from Wheels 2 Work, pictured with Raleigh Dover electric bike.

Haglofs Open5 Shropshire Hills

Haglofs Open5 Shropshire Hills

May 5th 2013. The Haglofs Open5 event is coming back to Church Stretton and the Shropshire Hills again in May 2013. From the Open adventure site:

The Shropshire Hills were another surprise location last series which many racers admitted they’d never visited before. We were so impressed with this little gem that we just had to return.

We think it will make a fitting location for the final event in the series too.

Again regular marshall Jim Rounsley is at the helm. With his attention to detail he is sure to organise another Haglöfs Open5 to remember.

BluntMTB Reinventing the wheel!

Saw this on dirt and it got me thinking.

So I wasted my night and wrote this perhaps I should have been doing something else on February 14th!

Here’s my take on the 29er thing. As I am starting to get a bit fed up with the whole subject

First of all this is what I think to 29ers. I have owed one for quite a few years but only as a XC hardtail. That style of bike has got loads of advantages over a 26” XC hardtail and there are no negatives over a bike like that for its intended use. I don’t think I would ever buy a 26” pure XC bike again and they have got a place in the market.

I ride lots of different bikes from XC to DH, like a lot of other riders out there. So you start to think what would these bigger wheels be like in another discipline.

I go out and have fun on my bikes and you can feel the difference in grip and speed when I am out on my 29er but I also know what is intended use is.

The thing is I own and have paid for my 29er XC bike so I don’t want to trash it down a DH track to see what it would be like. I have got a problem with that video of “Cedric Gracia Blasting on a 29er”. Cedric is a top pro Mountain biker and probably one of the best all round riders so if you put him on a Santa Cruz Tall boy he is going to ride the hell out of it and do things on it that take the bike out of its XC bounders. If that video was of Cedric blasting on a Santa Cruz Blur (the 26” equivalent) the video would have all the same footage of someone riding a XC bike on a DH track but no one would have thought anything much to it apart form someone riding a XC bike on a DH track. But as he was on a Tall Boy people think that he might do a DH race on a 29er this year!

Teaser 29ROCKS! DH session with Cedric Gracia & Simon André on 29ers on

Its more about the rider not the just the bike. Just look at that kid doing some crazy tricks on a old shopper bike. We are not going to go out and buy a Pashley bike thinking it will make us ride like Danny Macaskill are we?

Vintage Ladies Bike Street Trials

I have ridden a Tall Boy and they are really good bike and make the most out of the big wheels but I felt that the fun factor was lost a bit when riding it. If I could only have one bike I don’t think I would have a 29er as they are just not as versatile as a 26” bike.

I think that 29er’s are here to stay and I have to agree with the article in dirt about them (even if it was a bit one sided to 29er’s) they are really good to ride as a XC bike or a 120mm trail bike. In a few years they will out sell 26” bikes for this style of bike.

The thing is the industry have seen the advantages of the big wheels and are questioning the 26” wheel now. I really don’t think we will see 29er on the DH circuit, you might see the odd manufactures experiment with them but I just don’t think it would work in the long run.

The problem now is that they are questioning the 26” wheel size. They know the advantages of a bigger wheel but I think they with start/if not already realise that 29er wheels are just a bit to big for a bike over 150mm of travel.

I think that’s where we might start to see 650b. Until last year 650b was a very niche wheel size in the world of mountain biking. I am led to believe that it if a 650b tyre had a xc tyre on it , it would be similar in size to that of a 26” wheel with a high volume 2.4 tyre on it. So imagine a 650b wheel with a 2.4 high volume tyre on it. That could be one sweet set up? Also if you look into it there are a lot of manufactures planning on making 650b products in 2013. Especially considering the availability of 650b frames at the moment it is quite shocking.

As someone who likes to buy and build up bikes this worries me. I was looking to build up a “all mountain” hardtail. Its the style of bike that I have always enjoyed the most but stupidly sold mine a few months ago. But do I buy a 26” bike something that I know works and I could have a lot of fun on, but it might be completely out out date within a year. Or buy a 29er something like the Transition Trans am 29, a bike that could work but it might be a bit of a gamble. Or see what comes of 650b? I have decided to do nothing and just enjoy the bikes that I have got.

Unfortunately I feel that the industry will be playing around with different wheel sizes for a good few years before they settle down on a certain size. I think there will be a option of different size wheels and it will just be the case of picking the right one for a given job.

At the moment we are in that test period and we are expected to fund it. I think at this given time manufactures would be better off sticking to what they know and trying to bring down the cost of part and bikes instead of passing on all the R&D costs of new parts onto the consumer.


This Blunt MTB blog post was kindly re-produced with the permission on the author. See BlutMTB for more posts or follow our author on twitter.
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