April Ride Reports

29 04 2009

April kicked off a full list of rides, all you had to do was take your pick.

First on the list was the 2nd of our new Long(er) Fast(er) Hard(er) Muddy(er) Arse(ier) rides, this time around the Arundel Downs near Whiteways. 34 miles of mixed trails and approximately 1300mtrs of climbing in under 5hrs, that was the plan – it was going to be epic. Created and led by Guy, the loop started with the first of many climbs and with sun beaming down on us we, almost, didn’t notice the headwind as we winched our way at varying speeds to the top of the South Downs Way; and, the nemesis known as – Kithurst Hill.

Those who dared hurtled off the hill into the valley bottom. The look on faces on the return, confirmed it was mental. Breathy comments ranging from ‘love it’ to ‘impossible’ and ‘I wanna do it again, Kithurst did its best to challenge even the best climbing skills. I think the gauntlet is still dropped for someone to clean it !

Blasting into Amberley, over the river, climbing back up the SDW towards Whiteways. Here we lost 3 and picked up 1 as the group re-jigged itself. Low level singletrack through Whiteways, over the road, up the steep climb and into Bluebell heaven. This was the most picturesque springtime singletrack I’ve ever ridden, just shrouded with Bluebells and sunshine. Then I remember a warning, this will be a short and sharp climb. But it just seemed to go on forever and ever to Glatting Beacon, where cramp set in for some and the group got split. A quick tel call and we’re back together for a munch stop at the top of Whiteways. The singletrack calling our name.

Halfway down the trail Bob rode over an Adder and after a debate if they’re poisonous or not (they are!), during which it turned and slithered back towards us, we decided to get going a bit sharpish to the massive drop-in. Ming going so fast he made a new trail exit opposite! From here we lost 1 more and energy for some was flagging big time. Generous food donations were consumed so we trundled off for more, and more and more, climbing. But spirits were kept high and the group rallied together and no one got dropped behind. We managed to keep an average of 7.5mph, worked off 2400 calories and had a damn good time. Big thanks to Guy for the ride leading and trail sharing. It definitely delivered what it promised.

Next was the first 2009 Ladies Ride. Aimed at encouraging beginners to enjoy the delights of offroad riding this ride promised some hills, lots of big views, chat, cake, and laughs. The ‘honorary ladies’ helped with mechanicals, group sweeping and gate holding (thank you boys). Starting at Butts Brow we winched our way towards Beachy Head into another headwind. Jelly babies keeping strength up and a quick photo opportunity at the lighthouse for those girls who don’t live by the sea  Then down Hera’s hill (we found a ferret on a night ride here) towards Bell Tout Lighthouse where Rachel’s rear skewer disintegrated and a small lesson in putting a chain back on took place and then the promised cake at Birling Gap.
Ming decided to take a swim and then shoved a nice big clump of seaweed down the back of my cycling jersey (where’s Sally when you need her!).

Next the big climb of the day. Up Red Barn Hill. ‘spin it to win it’ the mantra to get you to the top. Here we decided to add on a bit extra to make the most of the lovely day and dip into Friston for some easy singletrack trails. Sadly saying goodbye to Shelley who was still suffering from a chest infection (get well soon).

Friston was great fun and everyone really enjoyed it. With the more experienced girls imparting their skills knowledge of how to ride singletrack and every morsel of information being sucked in and used immediately. Well done everyone for your first bit of offroad riding proper you all did brilliantly.

Pentlands was as rutted as ever and a challenging ride for a beginner but everyone got down in one bit except my front tyre which had a blow out! So, just the final plug home up the Eastbourne Mile gave a ride 15.5 miles, 1200 calories burned, 2 killer hills climbed and tasty singletrack too. Honestly, well done to the ladies for giving today’s challenges a go. You all did brilliantly and in one day improved your fitness and skill levels massively, you should be proud.

Two days & two rides to lead and organise = a tired girl! Starting from the beautiful (and free) Wilmington Priory car park my dead legs and a flat back tyre meant Long Man climb was a killer. But blessed with more amazing sunshine and no headwind we all made it to the top. Today was hot, hot, hot and the mood buoyant. Dipping down the SDW to Jevington Church was a nice dry blast then tucking into the hidden valley with the ‘sting in the tail’ climb up to the car park. I think I remember the odd ‘evil’ as I winched up the hill and flaked out at the top with everyone else. Quick munch then off to the fun we’d earned with our climb.

The secret downhill run from Butts. It’s steep, it’s technical, it’s rooty’ it’s off camber and it’s not to be under-estimated or ridden in the wet. Today was the day, it was bone dry. Re-grouping at the bottom of the run we waited, and then we waited and we waited some more. Eventually word came that Hobbz had got some big air over the jumps but skidde on exit and ploughed straight into Ollie’s front wheel, totally pringling it in the process. Oops ! Teamwork got the wheel straight (ish) – not that Ollie cared apparently he’s wanted a new set of tubeless for ages and rides most on his back wheel most of the time anyway lol! – so with the odd wobble off we all rode onto the ‘cheeky’ singletrack I’d been saving for months and months.

Approx 3 miles long and very like alpine singletrack, but without the 4hr climb to reach it. Tight, twisty, rooty, steppy and narrow. It was a blast and hard to believe it’s on the edge of the town (ssshhh!), halfway along we rode the ‘steps of excitement’ (named by Rich) to raucous applause and laughter as the dodgiest bit was stopping in the green slime at the bottom. Must remember, less brake next time. Onward and upward we singletracked our way right out to the road, brilliant. Upward and upward to the SDW golf course for a well-earned rest and chat.

Finishing off with a valley run back towards Wilmington with the classic ‘Mint Sauce’ view of Long Man and Firle Beacon to guide us home today was just about perfect. One of the best rides in a long time, even if I say so myself. Coffee and cake (thanks Robin) on the grass back at the Priory then after a bit of a stretch session it was off to the pub for a well earned pint.

Hope you all enjoyed April as much as I have, we’ve had some great weather, trails, company and fun. Here’s to seeing you again in May…I’ll bring the coffee, you bring the cake  Lisa




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