Ride Report – 24 Feb 08 – SDW, Birling Gap, Friston & EB Mile!

24 02 2008
I love Muddy@rse! It’s late February and we still manage to drag 34 bodies out of warm toasty beds to a ride 🙂 Wow though 34 riders, this will be challenging keeping everyone together, but with the help of Singlespeed Rich and (Severed Shoulder Tendon) Rick, I wasn’t worried – well not about the ride anyway!.

A delay due to road closure roadworks saw us setting off later than planned but luckily the sun gods were smiling on us and it was turning into a cracking day with everyone chilled and getting to know each other.

We set off towards Beachy Head along the South Downs Way, a nice wide open bridleway to get your legs, heart and lungs warmed up. Having gained most of our height by using the car park it was a nice trundle into the sunshine towards the road crossing, where we literally stopped traffic. All 34 of us piled over the road laughing all the way with the stunning view to Eastbourne on the left and not a breath of wind. It was perfect.

Another traffic stopping episode over the road (how kind), and onward alongside the road dodging the dewpond, hidden little gully and barbed wire fence. Good for the balance. We tucked off the road, regrouped and dealt with a few mechanicals. Sorted, we headed on open bridleway downhill through the Killer Cows (waited for a puncture repair) with Belle Tout Lighthouse to our left, over the road hugging the hillside and into Birling Gap. Quick comfort stop and then the Killer Climb up to Crowlink.

This climb is deceiving. It gains height quickly and steeply and just when you think it’s all over…there’s more to come. Quick munch stop and a bit more chat we watched Rich on his singlespeed tackle the hill. Had the new gear ratio worked, would it be less of a thigh buster ? The answer was yes, man he’s going to go like lightning when he gets some damn gears 🙂

Onward and upward, over the road to Friston Forest (need I say it!), and into some secret singletrack running parallel with the top of the valley. We rode this only a few weeks ago and it was an absolute quagmire, we took a risk it’d been dry(ish) lately, let’s give is a go. What a surprise, it was tacky but really, really firm. Almost like summer ! We continued snaking our way through the forest to the Downhill Run. The only really steep, technical run in Friston with jumps and berms all the way down, very rooty and loose and a bum off the back job. Mind you if 10 yr old Alex (accompanied by his dad of course) can ride it then we’ve no excuses !! Tim gave a jump demo at the bottom to the applause of us mere mortals and then it was off onto the MTB trail for a bit more singletrack.

Climbing all the way it was lovely and dry, the sun gleaming through the trees and everyone smiling. It was now so hot layers had been stripped, buffs removed etc, glad I was wearing long thermal tights and tops then !

Halfway round we met the ‘Hero of the Day’, Matt from Eastbourne on his MTB UNICYCLE !!!! He stealthily came out of the singletrack cheerily saying hello and wondered what we were all about. Funny that, I was wondering the same about him. I had to watch him ride so asked if I could follow him down the next decent, he tackled it with style and surprising speed and we continued chatting up the trail, what amazing balance. The group ahead slowly realised something was different about the biker beside me and a cheer rose followed by a round of applause. Matt joined us for the rest of the ride, taking everything in his stride and going up and down everything we did on our 2 wheels. Very impressive.

After waiting for a tubeless tyre repair (apparently a natty little sewing kit to mend his sidewall did the trick) we continued up the singletrack to eventually pop out onto The Gallops. Out of the trees now, the view opens up into Jevington Valley we trundled our way to the top and had a munch at the Ghost Bench. Apparantly if the ghost is present the horses won’t go near it but on ghost-free days they do, spooky! Tired legs (and a fully rigid bike) were starting to take their toll so it was the final blast down Pentlands.

Pentlands is a white shiny chalk decent which is rutted with rain gulleys but a blast when dry. Today was a dry day so everyone went, Matt on his Unicycle first ! The decent claimed one pinch flat but the rest were safe and carried on up The Eastbourne Mile.

This hill is a bit of a killer. It’s wide enough but rough at the bottom with knobbly brick batts sticking out all over the place which spit you off balance out from the trees it’s less steep and you just have to get into a ‘zone’. I usually start counting to 10, then another 10, I think I remember getting to 200 but then who knows after that I was knackered. Our Singlespeed Hero managed it without dabbing 😉

Regroup at the top and the last little blast back to the car, through the trees, over the gnarly little root crops, out the other side, where’s the flapjack !

Back at the car coffee, branloaf, fig rolls (Guy), banana flapjack and what can only be described by me as ‘very nice fruit and pecan nut crumbs’, were passed round to those who stayed behind.

It’s great to see the feedback that you all enjoyed today’s ride, we did too and although challenging with such a large group we didn’t manage to lose anyone. Thanks to everyone who helped out today (sweeping/punctures/mechanicals/cakesphotos) as always it’s really appreciated.

Finally, I would like to welcome everyone who was new to Muddy@rse I hope you enjoyed the day and look forward to seeing you on the trails again soon. Especially, our new ladies 🙂 If anyone has more photos they would like to share please send them to me via the contacts page. Otherwise look right for the offerings so far, and a GPS upload from Dave (aka Barry!)

Next ride is 30 March at Bedgebury Forest, full details to follow shortly. Happy Biking til the next time !


Clicky link for youtube vid of Tim jumping http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dk1aKP7-Nao




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