I feel a bit beaten up as I sit here and write this. No, I didn’t part company with the bike at all but the mud had me pedalling downhill on certain sections and it felt like every metre was hard fought at times.
Todays riders totalled 14 but I’m going to have to test my little gray cells hard to recall everyone! I think we have; Jem, Jez, BigAl, Mark, Paul, Paul901, Keith, PaulM, Rob, Tony2, Tony, (bit of a pause for head scratching here) Adamski, DaveW and me!
Having already posted that I thought Leith Hill deserved a visit we headed off that way with PaulM joing us from the pit lane with a characteristically late arrival! We took our normal route up Admirals track where the mud had already been churned up by green laners and hence gave us a taste of how conditions were likely to be.
Past Polsden Lacey and down under the twin wooden bridges, the dip was sketchy and the climb beyond remained as draining as ever. Up onto Ranmore we headed down a muddy Badger (no relation) Run to the top of Landrover and then slid down there, taking in the roots and ruts on the way. No one came a cropper as far as I am aware but that’s the advantage of being at the front, I don’t get to see the carnage behind!
Round the back of Westcott and across the A25 to take in the Rookery Climb. Always a lung buster but a good challenge to overcome for the newer riders. Wolverns Lane was full of water and mud, smiling horse riders and one miserable, argumentative Motor Crosser. Oh well, it takes all sorts and as a very happy motor crosser rides with us on occasion I know it does no good to generalise.
Around this point the group sort of split. Paul had a puncture but with brother Biketech Mark on hand we knew things would soon be moving again so we head off, bidding Jess from Astounding Adventures a good day as we went passed one of her training groups.
Taking in some of the bomb holes we headed behind the Cricket Pavillion and to one of the big roll ins that joins back to the main path. Big Al and Adamski did a tricky rooty drop in near the tower while the rest of us took the path down and aimed up the steep track to the Tower itself. Going off track and hitting a steep gully wall had me coming to a standstill and I waited, panting, as I saw Jem and the rest of the 2nd group approach from below. Some headed to the right while Jem walked up to join me in the final 20m to the tower.
As I parked the bike Mel and Simon came up from the other side of the car park and we chatted away with me persuading them to follow us back to the end of Summer Lightning. So with tea and cake duly eaten we headed off to take in Personal Hygiene, Bomb Holes, Waggledance and then Summer Lightning itself. From there is was a matter of retracing our steps back to Westcott and then up High Mediterranean before taking in the Dearly Beloved run.
This si where the gentle downhill required a fair amount of effort to get anywhere. The second half turned into a fast and loose trail and I may well have spotted Bill along the way but I was going too fast for my overstretched brain to fully register before the chalky turns were on me. The little chalky descent was ok at the top when there was a guiding gully but the lower section had me all over the bike trying to keep in a straight line! All good fun and certainly got my heart pumping again (as if I needed it!!)
Then we were faced with the climb back up to the end of Wiggly Wood. I walked. A lot of us walked. But Adamski and Al seemed to clear most, if not all of it. It was bad on the uphill with little traction but the flatter sections near the stables had been churned by cyclists and horses and it made for hard cycling if you even had the strength to attempt it. We had a game of “pass me, pass you” with some Orienteers engaged in their leisure activity of choice but not enought wheels for me to be interested!
That was pretty much it and we made it back to the car park to find the others there already or already split off home. A good but tiring ride and according to the GPS just under 24 miles for me and 2300 calories burnt, nice.