This week Caroline sat down with Bene one of the hugely experienced mountain bike guides from RAW. RAW is our main supplier for all mountain biking adventures in the South Downs and Bene is frequently found scoping out the best trails or guiding clients and this is why…..
What’s your background in cycling?
I come from a family of keen cyclists and started riding at an early age, I grew up in Norway and it was very much a part of daily life. As a teen I started to get more interested in Mountain Biking, often spending weekends riding around the Surrey Hills. Throughout my 20's I had some time away from biking but after having my 2 children, I was keen to find a way to stay fit that involved the outdoors... and so I dusted off my bike once again!
How did Bene Bikes come about?
After getting back on my bike and discovering the amazing riding we have around Haslemere, I made a conscious decision to carve out free time from my primary career in online marketing, to focus on sharing my riding passion by becoming a qualified MIAS guide. I knew from the beginning that I wanted the rides to be supportive, inclusive and fun.
What do you think the South Downs offers a mountain biker that other destinations in the UK can’t?
The South Downs is not only a ridge line of rolling hills separating the southern counties from the coast it is also a mountain biker’s playground! It has such varied terrain and trails, plus some of the most gorgeous views. We are spoiled with a huge network of bridleways and byways, meaning you can mostly stay off road too.
How do you pick your routes to start with?
Guided rides are planned with a few factors in mind, but I would primarily plan a route depending on riding ability, some riders want to push their riding on with big climbs and techy descents! We are lucky enough to have many trails that cover a huge variety of terrain, meaning that there is always a dry route somewhere!
What advice would you give to someone looking to give mountain biking a go?
Mountain biking is so inclusive and is for everyone. Do not set your expectations too high, rides do not need to be long or include big climbs to be fun. And if you do get the bug then the first thing to invest in is a really good quality helmet.
Best trail you have ever ridden in the South Downs and why?
A flowy grassy singletrack through a forest of silver birches in the Devil's Punchbowl is a favourite. I have nicknamed it Alice in Wonderland as it looks like something out of a fairy-tale. It is not the steepest or most technical but it is a lovely trail that riders of all abilities love.
If you are an experienced rider, new to the sport or want to give it a go we know Bene will be the perfect guide to ensure you get the most out of your time in the South Downs.
You can find out more about Bene and her guiding on Instagram @benebikes.
Photos by @downhilldaniel and @raw_mtbskills