In mid August 2012 after many exciting training days, a group of 8 enthusiastic cadets prepared to embark on what would prove to be one of the toughest and challenging weeks ever. The training days took place on what seemed like tame tracks around Hereford, before heading up to the area of Maibe in southwest Scotland. Throughout our expedition, we stayed in a small cottage in Maibe called Marthrown of Maibe, if you are ever considering staying in the south west of Scotland I would recommend that place, the best aspect of it is that no matter how much you think you can eat, you will never go hungry with Pam’s irresistible food on offer.
In the first and second days of the expedition, we learned how to sit on the bike in various positions to tackle certain obstacles. We then spent some time in the skills park in Maibe perfecting our technique. These skills proved to be invaluable in aiding us to progress through the week. For example, how to use our body position in order to keep the wheels from losing traction while going over obstacles, how we should almost sit on the back tyre in order to allow ourselves to go down steep slopes, also to know when going round corners and berms we needed to look through and ahead. The time spent in the skills park led to a few stumbles and falls. This was expected, as it showed us the necessity of using the right techniques.
During the third and fourth day we did some blue and red trails around the area of Maibe. This is when things became most challenging. Some of the hill climbs on the trails were very exhausting, which required a lot of resilience to conquer. However once conquered, our descent, which as well as being very exciting, was almost as physically and mentally demanding as the ascent. We needed to react fast, and remember what body positions we needed to be in.
On the final day we decided to take a stop off a llandegla to try out some of the red and black trails. These were a great test of the skills we had learned throughout, and I think a suitable ending to an amazing expedition.
Overall we had a brilliant time and acquired lots of new skills. We all hope to continue to enjoy mountain biking as a hobby, and for fitness training. I have also found that this trip has given me more confidence in my own abilities.
I would like to thank the Ulysses Trust for its generous support and making this expedition possible for us. And I hope that many other cadets may enjoy the same experience in the future.Cadet coxswain James Evans