How apt that on a day when we were blessed with the (otherwise thoroughly enjoyable) company of a few individuals who approach their flatulence with that old addage “better out than in”, we chose to head to Leith Hill and ride Windy Willow, to name but one of the many fab trails on today’s route.
It was nearly all over before the start for new rider Dean when that damn height restriction at the car park nearly took his bike off the roof of his car. We eventually got going after some lengthy pre-ride farting around by laid-back Nick (we’d love to know what you do Nick when you’re getting ready!).
The Dave-infested roll call was Jem, DaveC, Physio John, DaveW, DaveBus, Keith, Dean, Toby, Nick, Neill, Lee and myself and comprised a blend of Mole regulars, DoMTB regulars and the hussies who split themselves between the two clans.
Its not often that we’re pleased to have to make way for a walker/jogger, particularly when hooning it down Yew Trees, but in what must’ve been an omen for what was to come, a very pretty jogger meant we all had to stop to let her through. With tongues rolled back up and darker thoughts shelved, we carried on toward the top of Ranmore when we were greeted by a very vocal bunch of adolescent females cheering and sneering at us for being to old and too slow!!
Onwards to Land Rover which was fast and loose and quite (understandably) intimidating for Dean, who dispatched it in style – respect!
The Rookery is now becoming so ‘yesterday dahling’ in this fine weather – so much traction on offer in the dry and not nearly the same challenge as during the winter months. Its enjoyable nonetheless as is the climb all the way to the tower via Wolverns and then the bombholes near the cricket pitch, etc. A few braver riders including Take-On-Anything-DaveW, Physio John and Jem made Deliverance look easy whilst I for once was a cautious, not wishing to beat my expectant wife to the hospital-I must be growing up at last!
Again, the final rooty climb to the tower is nowhere near as hard in this dry weather so most of us made short work of that and settled down for a few minutes of refreshment and banter, which was flowing today with such a great bunch of characters present.
With DaveW and DaveBus in attendance we had the knowledge on board to head down Windy Willow which was great fun, particularly when a few of us tried the drops/jumps off the fallen trees. Physio John emulated AndyC’s Numbskull moment a few weeks back, fortunately without serious injury. Despite this, DaveW, Jem and I all had a go and whilst I landed the right way up without incident, my technique still needs work!
At the bottom, I persuaded the group to try what I call ‘Deliverance 2’ . This is to be found beyond the end of Windy Willow after a short singeltrack section and is a massive, steep roll-in that proved to be too much for a couple of riders, the rest of us making it down by hook or by crook with some major fish-tailing action on the dry and loose strip between the all-encompassing bracken.
Having already had to stop for Neill to fix a broken chain, Nick’s was next to expire, giving us all a little time to let the adrenalin subside before making our way back up and over to the Muther, for the normally fast and furious descent to Holmbury.
Once again though, our progress was thwarted by a pretty lady on horseback and DaveC pinch flatting. We then headed up past the cricket pitch at Holmbury and on to tackle Yoghurt Pots and Telegraph Road, both of which were riding really fast despite a few legs flagging.
With the high-octane sections pretty much over, it was time to put our XC heads back on and head back past the Volunteer and over to the Abinger Roughs, with White Down in our sights, which really did leave the stamina tanks on empty.
With the clock approaching 1, a few of us were already thinking about being greeted by the doghouse and it was just a case of getting back asap via Badger Run, Yew Trees and the Admiral’s Track. With my riding soon to be curtailed by a new arrival, great to get another 30 odd miles in the bag as that may be it for a few weeks for me.
A thoroughly enjoyable morning and thanks to all who came along and to DaveBus for the pics. I could have written much much more – it was such a great morning.