“Change is as good as a rest”. The Mole Forum agreed and the sunday ride de-camped to Bracknell to ride the trail-fest that is the Swinley Forest.
Pulling up to the Lookout car park a mottley group of moles were waiting for an early off. Steve (our guide for the day), Tommo (wrong bike again!), DaveC, The D’Andies, D-dub (on his big bike “My stantions are bigger than yours!), Keith, Kevin. With me on my Trek, for once the Trek’s (Steve, Kevin, me) out-numbered the Oranges.
As always there was some fettling before we set off. Saddle heights, tyre pressures etc…. but it’s not often some-one has to turn around the newly added cleats on their shoes because they are the wrong way round. No names.
So once DaveC had sorted his shoes out (doh!). We were straight into the singletrack in a Trek convoy. Here follows one of the worst descriptions of a ride ever, as my mental note taking of our route was non-existant, since Steve immediately took the lead and for the rest of morning with his fabulous leadership, trail followed into trail. I simply didn’t have to think about where we were riding.
I have been round Swinley many times (some with better outcomes than others) but not for many months. It was immediately evident as we rode off, that the trailpixes have been busy. Stickler (I think was one of the first trails we rode) was much longer and many trails seemed in better condition. Plus what I think of as Swinleys signature trail feature, the sunken tight berm, were certainly more frequent. They look easy but they aren’t.
We headed over to the Corkscrew where numerous wheels had made it more technical than before due to wear. Still enjoyable nevertheless. We mooched around the play area for a while and there was much sizing up of a gap jump, but no takers as the take-off looked particularly tricky.
We blasted along other trails. Seagull and Tank traps included. Eventually we ended up at the jump gully where our efforts were shown up by young teens on jump bikes. One guy was doing masive jumps into the gully on a FS bike. Very impressive. D-dub and D’Andy did us proud though.
The only real downside of not having been at Swinley for a while was seeing the vastly greater amount of litter visible at places like the jump gully. Some of it was probably due to foxes breaking into litter bags, but much of it was simply a lack of respect for the forest. Very disappointing.
D’andy junior headed back to the Lookout for a rest and we headed on. More trails, including Labyrinth were ridden. Including the particularly sweet trail on the far left (I can’t remember its name!) of laybrinth.
We finally headed to another jump location and tried out many of the jumps, before heading back to the Lookout. As we were only a few hundred yards from the Lookout the rain started and by the time we were back at the cars the rain was hammering down. So much so that D’Andy was put off from heading to the Lookout for a coffee!
Today’s hardman award definitely went to Keith. Even though it was almost biblical levels of precipitaion, he (as promised earlier) rode home.
The trails at Swinley had been great. Fast, dry – but not dusty, grippy and smooth. With the rain on Sunday afternoon and the rain since Sunday, it looks like we had the last of the summer on Sunday and some great memories for the autumn/winter.