This picture perfectly sums up my morning at QECP, though fortunately not everybody elses. In fact, we had a blast.
Somehow I found myself agreeing to a trip to QECP – Queen Elizabeth Country Park – down the A3 near Petersfield on the South Downs. The Moles have ridden there before during the course of some Enduro racing instigated by D’andy, and some of us will be there again for more of the same later this year. I won’t be joining them, having retired from competitive sport…
So Sunday found myself, Kev, Jem, Elliott and Karl shivering in the car park at QECP, each of us having anticipated warmer conditions than we got. At least it was dry and the trails were in good condition. You have the option of a red and blue route through the park with lots of under the radar locals trails which includes trails either being prepped or left over from the Enduro racing I mentioned before.
We stuck mostly to the red which proved to be perfect for our tastes – tough but do-able climbs, flowy descents with a few doubles and berms thrown in down relatively steep but comfortably rideable terrain. Think of an extended Wonderland and you won’t be far wrong, with the trails being clay over chalk over roots. Fine in the dry, OK today but very tricky in damp conditions I’d say.
The main feature of the ride for me, as I said, was captured in the initial photo above – my 1×10 drivetrain has cried enough after 1050 miles and resolutely refused to keep the chain on the chainring over relentlessly rutted terrain. I must have dropped my chain 10 times at least which proved hugely frustrating. My rag of maintenance has proved inadequate to the task which means it’s time for a new cassette/chainring/chain combo and the possibility that a chain device may save further hassle in the Alps this summer.
For the rest of the group it was business as usual as they proved their competence over the course of the red before Elliott discovered a coffin shaped corner for him to lie down on and Karl carved a berm with his knees. Jem led us down the Enduro trail he rode in far worse conditions last summer and while it was fun, my mad skillz seemed to have escaped with my chain problems. It was pretty steep stuff and my bike and rider combo didn’t really feel up to the task although the others rode it all rather better than I.
I’d be happy to return though after an extended dry spell as it’s a proper change from our normal trails and the short red gave us plenty of entertainment over the course of 12 miles of riding (we did it about 1 and a half times).