The sounds of man and his machine in perfect harmony gliding across gentle singletrack wasn’t what happened today, instead today it was the worst sort of man and machine noise that we heard.
Unusually this morning, as the Moles appeared in the Bockett’s Farm car park, it wasn’t raining. A ride without getting soaked certainly looked on the cards which makes quite a change to our recent rides.
I (lumi neo-retro Clockwork Orange) arrived just after 8:30am to find Dave there on his ScandAL On-one. After wondering for a few minutes whether we would be only riders Jez (Ti-nbred), John (Inbred) and Barry (retro throwback to a MTB time long forgotten) appeared. Barry’s bike is worth of a full description – a SS’ed steel Schwin of probably late 90’s vintage. 1.5inch tyres, 80mm SID (with no ano on the stantions and grease pumping out of the seals), V-brakes, bars the width a London courier would be happy with and bar ends. It was like having a MTB flashback. All that was missing was the 130mm stem. However everything was functional and that was the main thing.
After the usual …errr where should we go…we headed off in the direction of Leith Hill on the basis that it would probably be the best for well drained out trails. Heading out of the car park the Admirals trackway was pleasantly non-submerged for a change and we spun along chatting away. The sun even poked it’s head out a little. It was a fine morning to be out.
In quick time we headed past Polesdon Lacy, down Yew trees and up to Ranmore. We minced down Landrover (watch out for that first bend Matt), as everyone tried to keep the speed reasonable without locking up in the mud. Then over the railway line, through the bottom of Westcott and up the “improved” Rookeries.
The Rookeries is one of those climbs I’ve been riding for maybe 15 years and it was quite a shock to see what someone (Forestry Commision?) had done to it. Basically it’s been completely resurfaced with hardpack, making it completely smooth, no doubt at quite a cost. The steps are gone and so has the technical challenge until it, no doubt, erodes again. I’m not quite sure why it’s been resurfaced, for walkers? for horse riders? for MTBers? for safety? Well it was certainly getting eroded but I think it will now see people to ride down much quicker (not so safe?) and the big rainbar at the bottom of the slope will have some riders off since it’s out of keeping with the rest of slope.
At the top of the Rookeries it was up Wolverns lane through the singletrack at the side, past the fenced off Summer Lightning and through the bombholes to the base of the Tower. Overall it was a good effort to the Tower, I think Jez cleaned it, maybe John too? I tried the – off to the side route – and wheel spun. Barry found out how hard it is on a SS but made an impressive effort.
Up at the Tower there was time for a quick cake and tea but we weren’t lingering. The cold weather forecast for the rest of this week (although maybe not to metchecks programming fault for next weekend) seemed to be coming as the north wind picked up and made us hide in the Tower’s lee.
We headed off via Personal Hygiene and over to Deliverance. John was a bit behind us as we headed through the bombholes next to the cricket pitch. Jez, Barry and I bunched up together and Dave was slightly ahead, as we threaded our way through to the top of Deliverance. Once we got to the top of Deliverance, Dave had disappeared and we realised that he’d gone straight down as he told us he might when we were at the Tower.
As we almost got to the top we heard “the noise”. That unmistakeable sound of a crash. The metalic crunch of drivetrain on frame, bouncing bike and somebody oomphing. Once heard never forgotten.
Jez, Barry and I got to the top of Deliverance in time to see Dave lying on his back at the bottom of the slope, his bike about 10ft away. It was immediately obvious he’d taken a big fall. John arrived and Jez/John/Barry slid down the slope to check Dave out. I stayed at the top to make sure no-one else rode down til we sorted Dave out.
At the bottom of the slope it was soon apparent that Dave was in shock. White as a sheet, battered and bruised but thankfully not broken. The next issue was to get him up the slope and back home. He certainly wasn’t up to riding. Jem was the “Knight in Shining Transit” who came to our rescue (although maybe Dave isn’t exactly your average damsel in distress). John walked Dave out of the woods and we took the bikes, meeting up again at Coldharbour.
My ride was over as I waited for Jem. Dave was shaking, wearing all our spare clothing. Thankfully Jem arrived very promptly and the warm interior of a transit had probably never seemed so appealing before to Dave.
Over to Barry/John and Jez for Ride Report Part 2.
Deliverance had claimed another victim – after Mark’s previous “incident” (one of the other Moles). Hopefully Dave seems to have got away without too much in terms of injury but Deliverance now has even more respect for me. I don’t think I’ll be doing it in a hurry!