“It’s Snow Jim ….but not as we know it!”

6 04 2008

Here’s a write up from Guy on the snowy ride that he, Jim and Neil went on after the Goodwood Spring Challenge was cancelled today.  Mentalists !

“…Well the weather forecast warned of heavy snow for Sunday but, having actually managed to try out the Barbeque on the Saturday afternoon, I felt that the weather for the Goodwood Spring Challenge race would be cold, maybe a bit grey and overcast but snow? In April? No chance…

Well, on Sunday morning at about 8:30 whilst I was loading the car a bloke walking his dog down the street said that the skies to the north looked pretty dark and grim. It started snowing about ten minutes later. Within fifteen minutes it was a serious white-out blizzard, snow settling on the road and the car completely covered by 9am. Quick scans of the Muddy@rse forum showed Rob DuPres’ posts’ mentioning heavy snow at Hayling Island and I sent a couple of half-joking texts to Jim and Lisa who were both en-route to Goodwood. Further, slightly more concerned texts followed as the snow continued to fall and then a text came in from Lisa saying that the race was cancelled. A few calls later (is phone reception really that bad around Lewes?) led to Lisa and Rick aborting their journey and turning back home for an early breakfast fry-up and TV day. Jo and Michael called up en route to Goodwood from a 40th birthday party and ride options were discussed. Jim and Neil, having survived a number of close calls on a now slightly treacherous A27, ended up sitting in my living room drinking coffee and scoffing my race-prepared Banana cake. We all looked out of our lounge window at the sudden Christmas card scene and considered our options…

The Nintendo Wii was fired up and a couple of games of Tennis and a group Bowling match ensued…I won the Bowling match J The snow continued…

Jo and Michael called again saying that they would push on home to Brighton. I said that we were going to go for a ride. I think Jo said that we were mad but the line was a bit poor so I really don’t know. So Nintendo switched off, bikes prepared and a route clear in my mind we set off for my normal “short” local loop.

We set off on the local roads towards Highdown. Now riding in snow is a wonderful experience. A well known, simple trail becomes a technical challenge. The sound of snow crunching under our tyres as we climbed up the bridleway was commented on by all three of us. We climbed the “easy” route to the top of Highdown but the clear route was gone and the snow hid a heavily rutted path causing some mirth as we all either hit hidden obstacles or fell off, laughing into the now thick snow. It was here that we met the skier…

A quick re-group, down an “easy” green lane made slippy-slidey fun in the snow and then we cycled onwards into Angmering Park forest on part of the route taken on the Mid-Month pedal back in November. The fast run off Patching common was now an unclear route around the hill so I decided to lead. I tried to use the fact that I know this trail so well and get some speed up but quickly realised that the (now hidden) boulders, rocks and roots were all in different positions to how I remembered them. I had no idea what the others would make of this having never been there before but Jim and Neil got to the bottom of this run grinning form ear to ear in spite of the fact we all were taking it easy and not racing the descent.

We set off along another quiet lane and then up a slippery climb between snow-covered trees that, much to my annoyance, Neil cleared as Jim and I floundered, cursing the fact that the only time that out Atac pedals ever clog is in snow and ice.

At the top of the climb we stopped for a rest, the flask of Coffee I had sneaked into my Camelbak was produced and Jim offered round Scotch Eggs. By this point the snow seemed to have stopped but cold fingers and toes were starting to become a problem for all three of us, Jim incidentally was wearing three-quarter length shorts so I imagine his ankles were like blocks of ice by now.

The fire roads in the forest were a muddy quagmire with a thick covering of snow but oddly enough we could make progress on this where otherwise we would have been pushing the bikes. The return leg through the forest led to a personal revelation: If you put you hand up and tap or hit an overhanging branch that’s covered in snow you can, if your timing is spot on, bring a large snowfall down on the following rider. It took Neil a while to work this out J At the next stop, Jim spied a likely bit of snow covered singletrack off to the right and, after some debate, we set off deeper into the forest to try and find where it led. More laughter and bike-traction issues ensued before we finally got on the fire-roads, lanes and roads leading to home, the three of us chilly but happy.

As the ride ended back at my house and the cake had already been eaten, post-ride steaming mugs of tea and bacon butties were consumed as we all started to thaw out.

Its late Sunday afternoon now, the sun’s out and the snow is rapidly thawing. Hopefully the Goodwood Spring Challenge will be re-run in a few weeks time but, for Jim, Neil and myself, a good days riding was rescued from an, albeit minor, weather disaster. Cheers, Guy… ”

Pics can be found at http://www.flickr.com/photos/9462794@N08/sets/72157604411406757/





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