Ride Report: Halloween Ride 3rd Nov

4 11 2007

What a hardy bunch, 27 of us assembled at Sussex University carpark at 10pm for the first Muddy@rse Halloween ride. A very healthy Muddy@rse contingent together with Jimbo and the boys from Sussex-mtb. The objective was a short (9 mile) ride in Stanmer woods using some of the less well known trails together with a couple of sections that we have recently opened up and handcrafted. At this time of year we are at the mercy of the elements but this evening was warm and calm and the trails were bone dry – we couldn’t have asked for more. Fancy dress was optional and a shared 1st prize goes to Sally, Ollie , Jim, Guy and Rick who turned up as zombies, scarey monsters or with twinkly ghostly bike lights.

sally's ghostly night lights !

As we headed off along the first section of singletrack we were spread out along a distance of almost 100 metres with the beams of light the only indication of a person sitting on a bike. The ride behind the University accommodation blocks caused much laughter as a few us spun on the wet grass and ended up too close to the barbed wire fence for comfort as we were serenaded by disembodied whoops of encouragement from students who we couldn’t see in the darkness. The first light failure occurred on the climb up into the woods but this was soon sorted and on we went.

The bermy lumpy-jumpy trail was ‘fun’ in the darkness but the climb out is never pleasant and this evening was no exception. From here we left the beaten track for a gentle singletrack descent around fallen trees, over exposed roots and across a couple of substantial logs. From the bottom the only way is up. On regrouping we were 3 down, an excuse for a 15 minute wait sipping whiskey and brandy and eating Haribo ‘brains’ while they caught up with us regailing tails of malfunctioning gears. A quick detour for a loop off the main drag caused a couple of ‘offs’ while crossing a small forked log, no harm done and we headed for the first ‘work in progress’ section, following this evenings ride I am going to call this section ‘Missing in Action’ (MIA)!

The trail is tight and twisty with many bar-grabbing saplings. The route is not immediately obvious and as we became strung out the inevitable happened – people got lost! The first group of about 6 people emerged into the field and waited. Looking back a feint string of lights dancing through the trees became visible slowly coming closer until they eventually they popped out of the trees. A climb through the University accommodation blocks with yet more whoops of encouragement and a singalong to the loud music, a whiz along the singletrack taking in a few sets of interesting steps and we were back at the carpark for post ride midnight feast of cake, sweets, hot chocolate and coffee.

A couple of highlights included; the sight of 27 people negotiating a barbed wire fence without any mishaps while the lights through the trees on MIA reminded me of advancing orks in Lord of the Rings.

A great fun ride. Mike




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