Being blessed with fine weather and dry trails this was always likely to be a cracking ride!
I arrived at the car park to find a large gathering of riders which grew to a total of 17 by the departure. I’m going to be the first to give up on naming everyone as I really don’t have all the names in my memory bank. Sorry about that!!
Eye’s set on me for a route plan and as I ask for suggestions I caught Keith’s eyes who nodded in the direction of Newlands Corner. A swift XC ride with a few “interesting” bits thrown in seemed like just the ticket. With general approval we headed off towards the climb up Hogdens Lane. This soon raised the problem of trying to direct the ride from the back as Wednesday’s tumble slowed me more than normal. With enough of the core riders having good knowledge of the area I was sure that we’d end up in the right place.
Abba Zabba was the first target and luckily I was close enough to yell a direction change as the pack headed off into the woods rather than heading left. Darren and Adam made AZ look easy and this spurred Danny to his first attempt proving what a skilled rider he already is. Danny then went on to follow the others down Blind Terror while I led the rest of the team round the less extreme root and over the road.
Heading into Abinger Roughs Joe piped up about there being a more interesting route to take and so we peeled off to the left with me muttering that Toby said, “never let Joe lead a ride”!! No need to panic as Joe showed us a lovely bit of “bridleway” that connected a bit further along our normal route. A double bonus in that fact that we managed not to lose any riders!
The normal route from then on was taken as a swift pace with occasional pauses at the front until I caught up enough to shout a direction. The climb up to the cake stop is a steady old slog and although I tried very hard “Ol’ Ironhands” set a pace that left me behind on the top third.
As cake and drinks were consumed Andy661 turned his bike over so that I and Adam to suggest things for him to do to stop the continual creaking. A combination of cleaning and tightening left a silent bike and a happy owner. Joe and Paul then did their best to lead us through the woods behind the cafe and there is some great trails to be ridden but the large group got split and hence while part of the group had a pretty good run some of the rest of us headed back to wait at the cafe. Needs more work.
At this point there was general talk about who needed to get back or who wanted to extend the run towards Effingham. Plenty of speed and a nice fast bridleway with good viability and built in, natural, berms made it a sweet end to the ride as we did the final leg on the road.
Door to door for me was just a shade under 31 miles so 28ish for most riders who did the long run. Lets hope the weather holds for a few more weeks!