It was a ride of two halves, the wet half and the really very wet half.
After some late confusion about time change we still met in Car Park No2 at 8am, in the rain, to prepare for the new BKB. Starting over on the Pitch Hill side it seemed only fair to Take in the “T” trails before the climb up to BKB. Conditions were moist.
Jem, Tony, Colin, DaveW, Lee and myself headed out trying our best to “enjoy” the sideways tendancy of our steeds. Trust me, tyre choice isn’t going to alter the slide, maybe just the length and severity of the slide. I was all over the show as the final “T” trail spat us out near to the top of Death Star. I always get a funny look when I mention Death Star as a preferred trail, I’m not quite sure why as I love it!
The gulley was slippery and rock strewn as normal but I had it all under control and it spat me out into the opening with enough time to set myself up for the first big root on the left. That clear, I proceeded to head staright on despite my best attempts to head further left. Finally coming to a halt at another large root step with little run out beyond. Much laughter from behind indicated some comedy offs and indecisions while I manually lined myself up and head down the leaf covered descent. Much opposite lock was the key to the day, that and a cool head. It’s all riding, it’s just a little different to what we’ve been used to.
As the rest joined, we headed over the road to climb up and begin our first descent down the newly modified BKB. Eyes rights at the bottom showed some big berms and what seemed to be a surprisingly early exit. The singlespeed guys pushed on up the climb and I engaged my diesel mode and trudged up to the top. I hadn’t rained for about an hour so I set off ahead of Colin to find what delights the trail pixies had for us.
I guess the first 60% is unchanged until you see a fir tree layed down to divert you off to the right. The trail changes colour as well and you know you are on new trail. I think you head up a bit first before you meet the first berm which speeds you round and down for some swoopy trail taking you below the trail you’ve just ridden. Then it’s a sequence of big berms weaving you back and forth before spitting you out close to the road. A whoop or two from Colin behind confirmed to me that the was plenty of grinning to be had on this trail in the moist conditions which could only be surpassed when it all dries out. Those berms can really push you out though so make sure you ride within your envelope!
It didn’t take us long to decide to climb up again and re-do it but we also decided to throw in Yoghurt Pots and a few bits of singletrack before heading down BKB again and making for the Peaslake store. There seems to have been a bit more work on the exit of YP as well as a nice new berm diverts you to the left. Here we met a large group of bikers and one of them was Ian! He’d been a bit late and missed us at the car park. He was riding a Whyte 120 Carbon test bike which seemed surprisingly understated and also sported badly set up brakes. Quite why a £3000 is let out of a shop badly set up is beyond me!
Anyway, A few more miles through the trees finding plenty of muddy puddles to remind us of the rain soon had us back for the second run down BKB. Ian, having never down BKB looked a bit dubious as to what he was about to encounter but Lee gave him a quick run down and off we went.
Thsi time I followed Colin, who after his big accident at Swinley a few months ago swore he was going to be a XC ridder taking no risks. Bollocks! Now I’m not the best rider by any means but I couldn’t hang on to him down this run and I knew I was on the limits of the tyres. The last time I had that thought was at Swinley… but we arrived safely at the bottom grinning away so it must have all been OK. We headed to the Post Office to get refreshements and Tony, Lee and Colin headed off while the other 4 of us thought it would be rude not to give it one more bash.
While at the store I eyeballed the first Ragley Bluepig that I’d seen “in the wild” and had a quick chat with the owner who was so impressed he was saving up for a Ti version. I’m still unconvinced we “need” it round here and I did note that the Pig din’t have so much of a stem and a pair of bars attached directly to the steerer but the owner seemed well pleased so Brant has another happy customer in the Surrey Hills. Hopefully Hotlines will look kindly on us and send us one to test ;o)
Regrettably the rain god decided that enough was enough and it started to tip down as we edged our way back up to the top via assorted trails and bridleways. We did a bit of the Cycleworks test loop to give Ian a few more miles on the test bike and also make the climb seem a bit more worthwhile. The rain was making things much more slippery now and as we headed back to BKB I knew I was going to take it a bit easier. Still fun, but by this time I was very wet and ready for the car.
A good ride and I have to say that the new end to BKB is a very good addition to our riding in this neck of the woods. A big thanks should go out to all the trail pixies concerned in making this an excellent ride! Roll on the dry conditions!