Just back from a morning at Bedgebury Forest and it seems all this venturing beyond the Surrey Hills appears to be habit forming!
With Wimbledon about to start and Glastonbury in full swing, any sane person would have realised that there was more than a fair chance that it might rain. And boy did it rain!
I can confidently say that I have never, ever been wetter or muddier over 18 miles of forest singletrack than I was today at Bedgebury. The rain just fell down, stair-rod style for almost the entire time we were there, adding extra centimetres of water to the already soaked trails.
Despite the weather there was five of us out and we had a great time. We never actually felt cold (this is nearly July after all), but there was mud a plenty. Any mud fans who failed to get tickets to Glastonbury should head for Bedgebury instead and glory in the copious quantities of claggy clay and gritty gunk.
We managed two laps of the place which took its toll on the leg muscles but also, to be honest, highlighted some of the short-comings of Bedgebury. There were many areas that were literally flooded hub deep, which can only harm the trails in the long term as it will take a prolonged dry spell to dry them out. They really need to spend some time installing proper drainage in these sections and armouring the trail to prevent serious erosion but I guess resources are finite. Hopefully as time gets on this will be addressed.
As it was, of the ten sets of disc brake pads in use, six of them wore out in the horrendous conditions, including my rear one on the Hope M4. Guess I didn’t bed that in properly as it only managed 45 miles from new but it does show how harsh the conditions were and mean that the Local Bike Shop can expect to shift a few extra pounds of stock this week.
Now I’m sitting here, feeling pleased that I avoided a house bound day and nursing tired muscles. The Orange Five performed well although it’s far from tailored to my riding style. I caught the pedals a couple of times on innocuous looking roots, fell off in slow motion into a wet ditch when I couldn’t unclip in time and found the front fork to be limited in the amount of travel I was getting, suggesting the pressures need adjusting. On the plus side, it was comfy, very wieldy and the front tracked remarkably true thanks to the marvellous Rock Shox Pike 454s.
I’ll leave Dave to add the final word on Bedgebury but in summary, poor weather still provided good riding but the trails need some TLC.