I remember the days not that far back that you’d turn up to the meeting point wondering if anybody else would be there. Not these days and yesterday kept up the averages again with a good turn out of our ever expanding ‘core’ riders.
Route planning was the usual affair – the shotgun approach where a few trail names are thrown around and, with Druids Grove on the list with China Pig, I took charge and tried to piece a route together.
First stop was Ranmore, via Wiggly Wood where we experienced a few brown-trouser moments thanks to a large hole dug in the centre of the trail on a bend. I can only hope this was a badger’s work and not that of a disgruntled rambler upset at us using their footpath (did I say that?).
Up to Ranmore and then I fancied the fast and lumpy descent to the Chapel ruins at Westhumble which really is much easier if you lay off the brakes and hit it fast. A little road work followed up Crabtree Lane to head over to Druids Grove and I was already hatching a plan to take everyone down the steps from the viewpoint rather than the alternative start from Centenary Copse.
HaHa! I’m not sure anyone had tried them before and it was quite funny standing at the bottom step watching the various close shaves on the way down these tricky steps and switchbacks. A great test of balance and skill though. In hindsight, I should have warned everyone to allow plenty of room as bunching up really doesn’t help on this sort of stuff.
Druids was greasy as usual and as ever, the off-camber sections try to lure you down the slope for an appointment with A&E! Then came Box Hill, with Adam wondering if he could beat his ridiculously already fast time. By the time we hit the bottom, I had cooked my goose well and truly by trying to lead the ride at a fast pace to keep the whippets happy. I was under no illusions, I would not be breaking any records and by the time I reached the top, Amanda had donned her jacket as she was cooling down too much.
Such pain was worth it however with China Pig next on the list, where Adam pushed me all the way while poor old Chris suffered a bizarre technical fault, losing his rear wheel ! I chuckled as everyone could be seen checking their qr’s at the bottom when he eventually arrived.
That left a climb up Juniper in the direction of Alsatian, where I had the most amazing riding experience, following a Barn Owl for a good few seconds at 30mph down the trail as it swooped and soared in front of me – fantastic !
Time for me to peel off for the last climb home, feeling like we had well and truly earned some rest – 20 miles, 1000m of climbing with lots of fast descending.
Special mention to D’AndyC who showed his ironman like qualities by riding tonight after a night on the beers and a few hours kip on the sofa the night before. Maybe we should all adopt his unique d2d training regime?
Riders: D’AndyC, Jez, Lee, Trevor, Amanda, Darren, Adam_Ski, Chris, Colin