Determined to do something different with my week off work, and inspired by Dave and Jem’s highly successful ride over at Swinley last weekend, I decided my Saturday ride (not even I could live with the guilt of disappearing on Easter Sunday morning) would have to be there, even if it meant going solo.
Fortunately, Tony also declared himself a Saturday-only rider this weekend and joined me for a hideously early departure in order to get back by lunch.
Ahh, the wonders of the internet. A complete stranger had posted up a gps route on bikely.com and it looked the most comprehensive of those available, so it was duly downloaded and put on my excellent Satmap Active 10.
So not only did we have complete faith in the unknown route and donor, but the Swinley Ignoramus also put complete faith in the Satmap and decided not to question it or deviate, but stick to the route. Previous experience gives me such faith as it has really helped me learn Pitch and Holmbury.
About an hour into the wet ride, Tony and I were, as per Dave’s accurate prediction based on his foray there last week, “creaming our pants”. Move over Wales, this place ROCKS.
We had ridden everything in that first hour – berms, drops, jumps, gulleys and downhill (and a few short but tortuous climbs to appease Tony) and it was all linked together by twisty singletrack. The highlight for me was a 3km trail of uninterrupted swooping berms that has just been meticulously refinished to an all-weather standard by the highly dedicated and skilled trailbuilders.
Still following the route, we then started to indulge in anything half decent that wasn’t on our marked trail, but looked too good to pass. “Shall we” one of us would ask, “Go for it” the reply.
So thanks to the gem of a route, we managed to cover some of the highlights such as Labyrinth, Babymaker and the Jump Gulley but more importantly, we had a flowing, challenging 18 mile ride that really didn’t fail to entertain from start to finish.
What I still can’t comprehend is the variety and quantity of trails available, you really can make it up as you go along without it becoming a disjointed ride of highlights interspersed with fireroad stretches.
The site also boasts a Go Ape centre, excellent family riding, bike hire, café and children’s playground. I can see this becoming the chosen venue for the planned Dads and Kids ride with all the facilities on offer. It would be a shame not to unhitch the trailer bikes and child seats here and there so the not-so-grown-ups can have a play too, wouldn’t it?