It was a small turnout for Wednesday’s night right with many of the usual suspects absent. The assembled posse included myself, Paul, Lloyd plus Darren and Amanda on their tandem. With a lack of clear leadership we ambled off in the direction of Box Hill.
In a break with tradition I’m not going to fill out a ride report with the various weird and wonderful trail names we use but instead rely solely on descriptions. Mainly because I can’t remember half of them so instead I’m going to try and write up the ride without using any to see if the others can actually work out where we went…
So off we head past the traffic lights, legs spinning up the hill as we leave the last of urban life behind. The streetlights fade and the skies open above small fields. We soon reach the first crossroads and the tandem at the front rolls onwards, depicting our first route choice without any real planning. Ducking into the wood on our right we work the bars for the first time, leaning left and right as we weave our way though the singletrack. A small fenced gateway announces we have reached the end of this section.
Time to pick up the pace with a little help from the gradient. A couple of rooty sections as the speed mounts tests the still cold reactions. Mustn’t go too fast though as its easy to overshoot the turning right. I make sure everyone makes the turn but we’re small in number.
The gradient switches up a fraction as we reach a road. No time for tarmac though and we head straight over and up the bank, through a gap that needs a little commitment or its easy to cock up. The trail meanders downwards in big arcs and a couple of turns soon gets us hitting another trail head on. A left turn at the t-junction lets the rider use the height of the bank to keep up the speed. Sadly a well trodden track soon cuts the momentum just when you want it most as the next right bend brings a hill to climb. It’s a relentless slog with a lonely house announcing it’s over.
Left now onto the road, spinning fast past the church and after following the bend we soon duck in right along an undulating straight. We bear back sharply heading for a relatively new section of downhill, a few log rolls and greasy surface make it sketchy to say the least.
We avoid taking the track halfway and disappear onwards into the undergrowth to complete the section. It was something I didn’t do the only other time I’ve ridden it and it’s great to see a new novelty in a well used patch. We spurn the concrete lure of the vineyard and instead head on at speed down the nearby track where the surface water flys.
Another main road beckons another big decision, which way to climb the hill before us.
I suggest the back route or should that be backside. It’s a pleasant beginning but soon twists the gradient knife as it continues, ramping up the severity so steadily it reminds me of a treadmill setting of ‘git’. I’m puffing at the top but Amanda positively revelled in the challenge.
A slight error from me takes us on the first left but we soon turn around as I realise we should have just headed straight on from the top of the climb. We quickly reach the fencing that heralds the entrance to a great blast of singletrack that requires hopping and ducking in equal measure. It needs total concentration in the slippery conditions.
An owl swoops in front of me before disappearing in stealthy silence in contrast to my clanking drivetrain. We make it through unscathed despite lots of slides but Darren still needs to lumber the tandem over a few final obstacles. We are soon back to where we started the climb. Time is ticking so we take a direct route down the road, past a few revellers at the pub then over the main carriageway that bisects our territory.
Time to head upwards again using the mansion road that winds its way up to the stately pad. As we reach the pristine fence that keeps us out, or keeps them in, we dart to the right picking up a track that needs a quick spurt of power to ascend its initial slope.
We spin along at a brisk pace before dropping down to the right for the last downhill of the day. It’s a festival of roots that test the concentration that may be distracted by thoughts of home. Safely negotiated we head left and the tandem nips onto the singletrack that parallels the main path. Out we pop just before the farm and from there a right turn sends us quickly skywards for a final brisk climb, ahead of a blast down the road.
No idea on distance but we weren’t back too late so can’t have been an epic. Some squirmy singletrack was entertaining though. Trail spotters at the ready…