THE MB Swindon mountain biking club was recently in the news when persons unknown altered parts of its course.

Restoration by members was swift, and chairman Steffan James is happy to extol the woodland trail’s virtues.

New riders are always welcome.

“Really, it’s just about getting people to ride their bikes, to get outdoors and enjoy being active,” Steffan said.

“We’ve got some members who take it very seriously and travel around the country, doing events and that sort of thing, but most people just enjoy the social and physical aspect of it, really.

“There’s the social aspect of it. You get to know people. We’re a friendly club - we like to have people turn up.

“There’s the physical aspect of it – getting fit – and just being active helps you feel good.

“The mental part of it is really big, because when you’re riding you’re concentrating on what’s in front of you and around you. It’s does push everything else out of your mind.

“There is the almost cultural part of it; getting to know your area. You find yourself riding past something and then looking it up afterwards, and then learning little bits of local history.”

The club, which celebrates its 10th anniversary next year, has a 5km - a little over three miles - woodland course with a variety of ramps, dips and other features on a woodland plot at Croft, bounded by the Nationwide building, the M4 and the Broome Manor Golf Complex.

“The very first parts of the trail were built by Nationwide Cycling Club - in 2008, I think,” said Steffan.

“Then, as people from outside Nationwide started turning up there, they took over responsibility for it.

“The land is council-owned. The initial work by Nationwide Cycling Club was done with a grant, but when that money ran out the new people in charge decided that they would start a cycling club and use the subscriptions from that to pay for the upkeep of the trail and develop it.

“It’s grown an awful lot since then.”

Most of the trail is its so-called blue route, which is suitable for riders of all ages and abilities and popular among families, while red sections are recommended for more experienced and confident riders.

In addition to trail-riding, the club organises rides in the countryside on Wednesdays and at weekends, often using the Ridgeway as a core route and branching off.

Steffan, a graphic designer originally from South Wales, has lived in Swindon for nearly 25 years. He has been a cyclist since being given his first bike, a Raleigh Strika, as a child.

“I sometimes commuted to work by bike, and then on Sunday afternoons I might go and ride a few miles down the cycle path, something like that.

“Then I found the trail and it just really excited me. So I went and bought a mountain bike and joined the club – I’d seen a notice for the club at the entrance to the trail.”

The trail reminded him of his earliest cycling days.

“As a kid, you had your bike and you rode it everywhere. You rode it on the road, down at the park, across fields; bikes did everything then.

“It felt a bit like that. The bike I had when I found the trail wasn’t a mountain bike.

“It was one of those an all-purpose, around town bikes. There was that feeling of, ‘This is what it was like being a kid. I’m taking my bike and just riding it places.’”

Although the trail is open to all, membership of the club is for adults only.

Members are drawn from diverse backgrounds, and new arrivals are guaranteed a friendly welcome, whether they are beginners or more advanced.

“We’ve got a rule that no-one is left behind on rides.

“If someone is really struggling, we’ll slow down and stay with them.

“We always have a back marker – one of the experienced riders at the back, making sure everyone’s okay.”

Further information about the club can be found on its website,