Ride Report – South Downs 26 Jan 08

11 02 2008

Punctures, punctures, puntures!  This is what 26 Jan will go down in Muddy@rse history for ….. all 19 of em !  Damn every farmer who thrashes the hedges and doesn’t pick the bits up. 

That aside though, what a fab day.  I wanted to blow away the cobwebs after having a really crap week or two and man did we get that.  Gale force from the moment we got out the car.  Didn’t stop 29 Muddy@rsers turning out for a return to the South Downs taking in the mixed trails and gorgeous views on offer.  It might have been windy but the sun was shining and once we got going (naming & shaming no-one!) everyone started warming up nicely. 

Pedalling from Bo Peep into a brisk headwind we wound our way towards Seaford, dipped down off the ridge to get out the wind and the view was magical.  Sun glistening off the sea, hardly a cloud in the sky the snail trail of MTB’ers grinning from (numb) ear to ear .

1st technical (ish) decent was steep, off camber, slippy and rooty (but not as bad as I remembered) with a nice barbed wire fence to keep up your concentration levels.  Everyone made it in once piece, just round the corner though disaster seemed to strike.

Thrashed hedges & debris strewn bridleways make for punctures (well if you’re not running Slime Tubes that is).  Halfway up the stiff climb puncture no.1, top of the climb punctures 2, 3 & 4.  It was howling with wind so leaving punctures to be mended we ventured off and blasted the decent to the road.   Everyone enjoyed it but halfway down, puncture no.5, and an over the bars crash where wheel and rutt met at speed.  Things were starting to feel a bit jinxed but little did I know 14 more punctures were to follow, oh and at least 2 more high speed crashes !!!!

Swamping the Deli in Alfriston (highly recommended) we took over the village centre which turned out to also be the bus stop which was interesting!  Eventually regrouping we too off toward Winchesters Pond on Lullington Heath (once the 2 slow punctures were sorted).  This is classic South Downs riding on wide open climbs with wide open views to match and today was no exception.  It was stunning.  2 more punctures on the way up to Winchester though.  Luckily the weather was on our side and everyone happily enjoying the day so we decided to extend the route into Friston for some singletrack fun.  First we had a great blast of a decent (2 crashes, 2 punctures) to take in and then along the valley floor to ‘The Tree’.  Remember it ? 

All I could hear was groans as the climb ahead came into focus and me shouting ‘give space’ while I sat in the valley watching the snail trail wind its way up, it was interesting.  Different lines being taken (some up some sideways), bikers bunching/tumbling, bikes sliding out / stalling, but I think a lucky few made it.  Once at the top we eventually regrouped and headed into Friston to take in ‘Stumpjumper’.  This is a fun, flowing trail with loads of stumps to work around (or clout your pedals on), breathe in through narrow trees, hardly muddy at all so flow was great on the final decent to the ‘Steps of Doom’. 

Definitely a challenge (and a bit cheeky) these steep, narrow steps with handrail on one side (I did say they were cheeky) and barbed wire fence on’t other it takes a brave soul to give these a go.  I was impressed how many did and cleared it with great big smiles and a cheering crowd at the end giving encouragement.  Oh and a little snifter of single malt that warmed the cockles of my heart anyway!

A bit of road followed to clear the legs and back into Alfriston, quick Deli stop (punctures meant we’d been out longer than anticipated) and then the final climb home.  We took an alternative the SDW as it’s less rutted but still flippin steep turn right into THE WIND !  Man it was still blowing a gale, literally.  We all tried to wind our way up the hill, dodging babies-head sized flints as the wind buffeted us sideways, I couldn’t stop laughin.

In true Muddy@rse style once back at the car it was coffee and cake time with homemade cookies carefully sculpted into bicycle parts and flowers for the girls, Banana & Bran cake & Museli bars and choc chip muffins (thanks Donna & Rich, Guy and Neil).  We all huddled around being frozen to death and blown to bits, and reliving our experiences of another great day.  I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as we did but after recalling all those punctures I think now is the time to recite the GOSPEL ACCORDING TO SLIME !

SLIME TUBES – To my knowledge everyone running Slime / Dr Sludge or Tubeless conversions didn’t get a puncture on Saturday (I thought I had but was OK).  These tubes are a godsend, especially when out in a big group because no punctures means the only stopping you do it to catch your breath, eat cake, chat, cajole and the ride has a good flow (especially if the weather turns). 

So I cannot shout loudly enough about these beauties, they’re not expensive (£6 each approx – not bad when you think normal tubes are £3) and they last for ages.  They’re full of slime so seal any thorn holes immediately or with a quick spin of the tyre.  We first came across them biking in Spain and the only time I knew I had a puncture was when the 19th I’d gained that week meant the tube finally needed replacing (and it had had many more before I got on the bike).  So if you like riding in a group but don’t like hanging around for punctures (don’t forget the next one could be you) I think an investment is on the cards.  You will NOT be disappointed.  

That’s me shouting the gospel over but it was great to see new and old faces on the ride and look forward to seeing you on the next ride.  Not sure where we’re going yet but will post soon.



Club Founder




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