July 09 – Ride Reports

3 08 2009

Dry dusty trails got us buzzing in June, with inadvertent self-harming going on all over the place from the spiky bramble tendrils jutting across our trails and the mile high nettles that’ve appeared from nowhere. Did July deliver the same? Well, yes and no. The heatwave broke, melting into insignificance, but our enthusiasm didn’t and trails as the Muddy@rsers blasted all around the South.

Ladies Ride – this time a gentle trundle across the Pevensey Levels, a beautiful ride along the little-known River Haven that meanders its way through fields and killer cows (!) towards Herstmonceaux. This is a great ride for beginners, chilling out, night riding or a quick blast after work. Mike and Rick helped out as our ‘honorary ladies’ and (when they stopped chatting) opened gates along the way to keep the flow; and when forgot the girls hollering in gest …‘GATE!’ …as a little gentle reminder 🙂

 Puncture no.1 turned into a quick lesson from Rick and many a comment on pooh and how to contend with it on the trail! Moving on we hit Herstmonceaux; the gradient gently rising til we popped out behind the Church. Dipping into a bit of ‘cheeky’ woodland singletrack, where the biggest technicality was the Badger warrens, we looped round to a downhill blast then up the cobbly climb which tested strength and skill in the humid conditions, at the top we hit another stretch of singletrack which amazingly had been cleared, then puncture no. 2! Nearly at lunch we carried on while puncture was mended dropping down a series of small steps to sit and gaze at Herstmonceaux Castle.

While eating our sarnies we couldn’t fail to notice Sue’s fantastic array of delights in her enormous lunchbox, which she kindly shared to those who’d forgotten theirs. After a nice chill out we trundled on, retracing our steps back along the river and managed to dodge the rain drops all the way back to cars, the skies threatening the whole time though. Although flat the ride is a deceiving 18 miles and by the end various parts of our anatomies were feeling the mileage! Coffee back at the car and excited chat about the upcoming Skills Day at Swinley on 15th. T’was a good day.

LFH Ride – MikeG led his first ride with Muddy@rse round his stomping ground of Crawley. 30 miles was the criteria, 33 was what we got. Starting in Tilgate we headed out across the golf club on some familiar and new trails. Linking with the inevitable sections of road round this way we wound our way over to St Leonards but turning left instead of going right into the Forest. This was new.

Don’t ask me where we went next but I think we meandered our way towards Mannings Heath and the Hammerpond area. The trails taking us there were quite slippy from the recent heavy rain but still good fun. One decent (Bob!) in particular went on for miles and we were speedway stylee for most of it as tyres struggled to dig beyond the slime for grip. Brilliant fun! It was wet, it was warm, it was humid. Dipping into a bridleway that runs along the edge of St Leonards (I recall I really liked this section) we sped our way through back towards Tilgate. The final section of the ride we decided to go along ‘The Stream’. A very tight, rooty, slippy trail just begging to get you wet. Mike’s face was a picture of pure relief when his rear wheel lost all traction, with balance skills put to the test, he managed to stay on terra firma. Heart rate eventually recovering from his adrenaline rush, we carefully carried on back round the golf course to the cars. 33 miles at an avg of 9.5mph. Another great LFH hit the mud….

Club Ride St Leonards & Tilgate – text messages were flying in on the way to the ride with updates on the progress of our 24/12 entrants who were doing a mixture of solo, pair and mixed team races. Last minute team issues were resolved and commiserations given to those with oink flu who had to stay at home 😦 Our thoughts were with them as we grouped in the car park waiting for our leader, Pete. Knowing he’d been out on the beer the night before was slowly becoming a worry as time ticked by, but unfounded as he turned up on his bike having cycled over from home!

Today was going to be a singletrack fest. Pete likes it tight, twisty & technical: not a ride for beginners. Vague lines through the trees, triffid-sized ferns towering above us; obscuring the trail in many places. Line choice becoming a stab in the dark and hope for the best. 8 riders: 5 crashes… say no more! The most spectacular crash goes to Rob who body planted into the steppy watersplash just after I’d unsuccessfully tried to exit the same watersplash ouch! Licking our wounds we carried on, Rob dripping blood, me knowing there was another watersplash to come. Pete’s great idea, let’s all go over close together so we can see the line. It worked, all cleaned safely although Rob’s carbon bike does seem to have an unusual attraction to the water as he veered off course on entry and ended up cycling up stream with us all wondering where he was going lol!

The pace was fast today and I struggled to keep up in the motorbike rutted bits of Tilgate, line choice was crucial and I just don’t know how you can ride these fast. But you can, as all the boyz left me for dead. We threw ourselves around the forest singletrack for miles, up steep climbs, the downhill run then back across the fields to St Leonards. All legs now slowly flagging we decided to head back via the final sweet sweet singletrack run to the cars where we concluded with 25miles on the clock.

Rain drops dodged right up until the end; a text message update…Jo and Michael got 3rd & were on the podium in 24th Mixed Pairs, we celebrated their success with our coffee and cake.  Good effort. 

Well done to everyone who turned up for today’s ride it was a toughie and to all who entered 24/12; you did Muddy@rse proud. Big thanks as always to our ride leaders Mike & Pete for taking the time and effort to put together a ride for everyone to enjoy and to all who brought cake (you know who you are). Will we get our BBQ summer? Apparently not, but who cares the weather can be a feature of many UK rides but actually more often than not you dodge the raindrops and if you don’t: well at least it’s warm 🙂  August ride dates to follow soon… Happy biking til then, Lisa




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