The trails were dry, but it was definitely ‘a wet ride’ as we ended up in The Anchor for a few beers. A good turn-out for a Wednesday evening, with seven of us at the start to watch Jonesy faffing about with yet another flat, he’ll soon learn and go tubeless.
Looking on were (not so) Big Al, Colin, Kev, Lloyd, JR and myself, all eager to get the riding over with so we could return to the pub and celebrate my (ahem) 45th birthday. So up Crabtree Lane we headed, on what was a warm or cold evening, depending on whose opinion you sought. ‘View to a kill’ was first on our list, with Jonesy and Big Al leading the charge.
I wanted to make sure those less familiar with the trail didn’t miss the easy ending and charge over the steep drop, so started off ‘mid pack’, and was rather surprised to find Kev wandering around in a bemused state half-way down the trail. Seems like he was confused by the carpet of leaves and the darkness, and he needed some convincing that he was still on the trail. Given his ’grand’ age, we should expect to see more of this confusion on future rides. Maybe it’s time you took up golf again? Oh, you have already 🙂
There was also a large ivy-clad tree down on the lower section. This will take some shifting, or maybe require a diversion? We took the road down to Westhumble, ignoring the siren call of the ‘Stepping Stones’, and headed up Stane Street. For once, Jonesy had a good suggestion that we tackle Snail/TNP first, then back up to Mickleham Gallops, avoiding a second climb up Stane Street. It also took us away from the temptation of a mid-ride stop at the King William.
The trail was running nicely, and much grippier than when Jonesy and I slithered down it last Friday. Kev appeared at the end of the trail with a fine collection of foliage still attached to his helmet light. That sharp right turn at the end always catches someone out.
Unfortunately we couldn’t stop Jonesy leading the charge up the hill, which meant we were half-way down the other side before we realised we’d missed the left turn up to The Gallops. I decided he’s like one of those clockwork toys that keep bashing on in the same direction until he either runs into something or falls over, then you have to pick him up and point him in a new direction until he does the same again !
Jonesy and (ns)BA headed off down Paranoid, while I led the remainder around to meet the two of them at the ‘Bat Cave’ start (‘Paranoid’ end). Much whooping and hollering could be heard from our right hand side as they negotiated the gap and other TTFs.
We regrouped at the concrete tank, with some opting to continue along the Bat Cave, while the rest took on ‘Tankslapper’. TS was amazingly dry and grippy, and as I recounted at the end of the trail, I had half a second to note that the small jump at the end had been built up a little, before deciding, “Stuff it” (or words to that effect), “Go for it”. I was glad the trail was grippy because there was quite a bit of braking required after landing.
From here we again showed iron resolve to ride past the Running Horses and up to Norbury for a final assault on ‘Infestation’. I do believe JR took on the challenge of the radio mast up to Norbury House, with the rest of us splitting between the road and the middle trail. I think we all enjoyed Infestation, with the bone-dry roots presenting much less of a challenge than their wet and slippery incarnation of a week ago.
A final charge up through The Hazels saw us into The Anchor before 9.30pm for some much needed rehydration and refreshment. What a great way to celebrate a birthday; fine riding, fine company, and fine ale !
Edit: I forgot to add, Al was on his new Canfield Balance; “Nice bike, Al”