Ride Report: Anniversary Ride 28th Oct 2007

28 10 2007

Today witnessed the first anniversary of the Sussex Muddy@rse club, big thanks to all those who have got involved in the rides, suggesting, leading, recce’ed and attended as well as bringing post ride goodies, joining in with race events and generally getting involved and contributing to the friendliness and spirit of the club. To celebrate our 1st anniversary we returned to the scene of the very first ride the singletrack and downland around Brighton. The weather also decided to celebrate our 1st anniversary by reproducing the conditions of the first ride: wet and windy.

I was not the only one who thought we may escape a downpour as we set off for the climb through Sussex University to the first section of singletrack it was cool but the rain was holding off. There was a healthy covering of leaves and leaf mulch on the ground hiding most of the roots, this section was wide and gentle so the hidden roots weren’t a problem – if only this had remained the case as the ride progressed and the roots became more numerous. The climb onto the downs was dispatched up a rocky gentle track and as we reached the summit the heavens greeted our achievement with blustery wind and the onset of horizontal rain. The chalky section of the South Downs Way from Street Hill Farm to Black Cap is a serious danger zone when wet and today was no exception. The combination of chalk covered in green algae mixed with rain reduces the ground to the consistence of wet soap and just a slippery! The first couple of ‘offs’ occurred here including Guy who started a domino tumble that took out 4 riders – a few sore @rses and dented pride but no damage done.

From here it was down through Ashcombe Bottom a lovely long descent in dry conditions with plenty of roots and lips to jump off. In todays muddy conditions it turned into slurry filled ruts that were desperately trying to grab our wheels to have us off. We all survived. After this fun came the climb out a hassle but not too tough. We turned uphill for a drag across a field and then it was downhill all the way popping out from the rooty singletrack above Offam quarries – no one went over the edge and we continued on our way. Back to the South Downs Way and we had the first puncture of the day – as we cowered behind the hedges to shelter from the wind and rain we again pondered the question when will people use heavy duty tubes or ‘slime’? the usual weight arguments were made but we agreed that a weight penalty of a tube is b******s when considered as a percentage of the overall rider and bike weight. Back along the soapy section of SDW and we had a couple more ‘offs’. No real damage but by now we all wanted to get out of the wind and rain as soon as possible so we hurried along in order to get into the shelter of Stanmer Woods.

Stanmer Woods: slippery roots and leaf mulch, standing water pools and mud – this was going to be fun. The first section of singletrack strung the field out but we all got through safely. The second off-camber section caused more spacing but we all survived, however the third section saw carnage. Every root seemed to be placed to channel us into a tree or another root trap and boy was it slippery. A few tumbles in rapid succession including Nick negotiating a root nest and then slipping on a small innocent looking twig of about 1 inch diameter, then just as I was congratulating myself after riding over the fallen tree I lost it on the same twig that moments earlier claimed Nick. Down through the bomb hole and we were back at the cars.

Cake, coffee and sweets in abundance.

Thanks to everyone who came along, it was great to have Alec back in the fold after his holidays and house move, it was also great to see a few mud-splattered but beaming new faces – the spirit of Muddy@rse.

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