Ride Report: North Downs Road Trip No. 2, 25 Nov 07

25 11 2007

Don’t know about you, but I thought today was a beautiful day. The sun was out, people were happy (all 30 of us !), I was riding some proper stuff since my leg incident in the Lakes and the trails were reasonably dry, especially considering all the rain we’ve had lately.

So after a few navigational mishaps with people finding the car park we eventually grouped and headed off up Pitch Hill on the gentle climb to the other car park (oh yes there are loads of them round these parts!) sharp turn left and onward up the climb, it was boggy on the way up and across the top. Here we stopped for a bit of ‘drop in’ excitment, well if you didn’t mind re-doing the climb you’d just done that is. That didn’t put off quite a nice smattering and with whoops of joy and plenty of encouragement from those ‘resting’, the drop in was tackled in style. Onward and upward…a technical climb was just round the corner.

Short, sharp, rocky & rooty with a nasty steepening near the finish… definitely challenging. Now we’re on the plateau of singletrack that winds it way across the hill and spits you out at the view point. Today we could see to the South Downs with the sun sparkling off the trees. Beautiful !

What goes up must go down though. We’d earned a nice flowly descent and that’s what we got. Bit slippy in places with bone bare off camber roots to keep you on your toes but we twisted through the trees for what seems like ages and a new trail name was born ‘Twist & Turn’, then we linked up with ‘Graveyard Shift’. A really nice very long swoopy singletrack that finishes, well at the Graveyard ! There were so many MTB’ers on the trails today criss-crossing everywhere I think we picked up M@ no.31 here but he was swiftly reunited with his mate. First mechanical of the day, a sliced tyre. Being tubeless this took a little while to mend but mended it was so Peaslake here we come…

In the Village there was already a massive group outside the Deli scoffing cheese straws and slurping tea. Not our time to stop but we’ll be back ,tho not til we’ve done a whole load more fantastic trails… now up the road onto Holmbury Hill. Man that road is a killer climb on cold legs!

Holmbury is full of interesting trails and you’re spoiled for choice. We decided to take in Telegraph Row, Barry Knows Best and Mystery all linked by 5 Bar Gate. First we had to grind our way up to 5 Bar Gate my legs feeling like lead but otherwise holding up really well then a last minute route change (I told you the choice was almost too much) but onward we went. After a little while further and a quick backtrack, we picked up another trail which brought us out at Holmbury Car Park. Off to the left and the final upward stretch to viewpoint no.2. We took over the hilltop, the sun still shining and everyone loving the trails we’d ridden. Oh but there was more fun to follow. Onced the broken chain was mended !

Unfortunately, VPL was as Hobbz had warned me, really boggy. What a shame this is a really good little trail that’s more interesting than the fireroad but today interesting for all the wrong reasons. Almost handlebar deep puddles took at least 2 over-the-bars prisoners. Nothing hurt just very very muddy 😦

Next Telegraph Row. This is a corker of a trail, following the line of … well the Telegraph Poles all the way off the hill to Holmbury Youth Hostel car park. Tight, twisty, rooty, off camber, muddy then sandy with a sharp drop-in halfway down with a nasty big stump in the middle of it. Then sandy step, after step, after step into the little gully then all too quickly you’re spat out into the CP. Wasn’t it fun though? Well for everyone except the Muddy@rser who spectacularly grabbed a bit too much front brake at the drop-in entrance and was harshly spat over the bars, flying through the air superman stylee, landing square on the top of his bonce and knackering a crash helmet in the process. Very luckily nothing else was hurt or broken, just the crash helmet. But hey that’s what they’re there for. Good story to tell your mates down the pub though !

Re group at car park and back off on more twisting singletrack pop out onto the fireroad and then off right for a short but fun decent with THE GULLY at the bottom. Now this gully is deep with no lip to help you get air. Rick had done in previous years but completely blew his rear shock in the attempt so everyone had a warning. Hugh cleaned it good and proper and went back for seconds to the applause and whoops from all of us. Good job !

Next a steep technical singletrack climb with the bomb out option of, well a steep fireroad climb, then onto ‘Mystery’ a nice flowy singletrack that takes you back to 5 Bar Gate straight on from here brings you out by Holmbury Reservoir. “Rider” … not quick enough to get out the way of the massive puddle, I was douched by two riders coming through. Laughin like a drain at my mud splats we grouped for the piste de resistance ‘Barry Knows Best’ or ‘Reservoir Dogs’ depending if your new or old skool.

I won’t argue with Barry, he knows what he’s on about. This handmade trail is a real gem. Rooty, bermy, droppy, fast, flowy, steppy and finished off with a steep finish all the way to the road. Words can’t do it justice you’ve just got to ride it to see for yourself.

Everyone was buzzing from the finish of what was a great day so off to Peaslake for those promised cheese straws and cups of tea.

After loads of chat it was back to the cars for maltloaf, banana cake, muffins, fig rolls, coffee and hot chocolate and well, more chat. (thanks Mike, Guy, Neil & Jim for your contributions)

I really enjoyed today, was a bit worried about keeping such a big group together on those tight twisty trails but with only the minimal amount of probs I think it worked out really well. Couldn’t have done it without Rick (full of ‘flu), Rich, Donna and Mike helping to lead & sweep the group. Weren’t those walkie talkies were priceless?

So far my leg’s holding up so I’ll definitely be out on those trails trying desperately to get some of my fitness back which I noticed I’d lost big time today. Our next ride is 15 December at Swinley Forest, Nr Bracknell and if you enjoyed today’s technical trails you’ll love it here. Full details are in the Calendar on the RH side but we’ll also post full details nearer the time.

Thanks for joining us on this great ride & see you on the trails soon

Lisa

Thanks to Guy for the videos.

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