Christmas Night Ride 09

23 12 2009

After the usual chaotic late November/early December where my riding and general motivation suffered due to a combination of work, non-biking weekends spent visiting family and relatives and some frankly diabolical weather, I had made a promise that I would, at very least, make it to the now annual Muddy@rse Christmas night-ride.

With Rick stepping into the role of ride leader after Sallys’ work commitments conspired against her running the ride from Seaford a revised route was set to start from Bo-Peep carpark on top of the Downs.

I was initially in two minds to come along or not. The sofa, tv, fire and red wine all looked very tempting on a very cold, sleety night, but a freshly cooked cake (thanks Janine!) looked too good to not share so the decision was made and bike and gear were thrown into car.

6 other hardy souls (and one worryingly over-enthusiastic dog, Chewie) were waiting at the start point. Jim, whose bike is still safely stored in a police station in Crawley while the wheels of the UK legal system slowly grind on, was on Ricks old singles-peed and actually looking forwards to a one-gear ride ( the fool!) Lisa was there to give us a cheerful sending-off before she negotiated a now icy Bo-Peep lane in Ricks’ van (we didn’t hear a crash so we assumed it all went ok!). After the usual faff of kit (sorry guys  ) and some suitably festive decorations applied to the bikes we set off into the dark towards Firle beacon and tried not to run over a now very excited dog.

Night riding is always fun even when its sub zero temperatures , the ground is starting to freeze and everyone really wants to find the nearest pub with a warm fire. At Firle beacon we turned left and headed down the hill towards Newhaven/Seaford on a farm lane that ended up in a long, straight, fast and very slippery descent. Chewie now finally deciding that he wouldn’t attempt to run under everyones front wheels (grrrr) and instead try and beat us down the hill…he nearly won too!

We were now pretty much warmed up and with vapour steaming off us in the cold night air. Rick led us long a reverse loop of last years ride so a long long downhill run, a muddy climb or three, a road climb up to the golfcourse then a fun icy-hardpack downhill had to eventually end up with a long, long uphill drag back to the carpark.

And boy was it long! And Steep! And Misty! And it started to sleet too…

Jim led us up the hill with Rick and myself just behind and the rest trailing behind, lights visible back down the hill in the mist. Rick had the idea of turning his main lights off so he couldn’t see the uphill trail ahead seemed to work and eventually the climb started to level. A quick regroup near the summit and we knew we were a mile or so from the car park again.

By now Chewie was looking as tired as the rest of us and the final run along the South Downs Way and back to the cars for some well earned Coffee and some very much appreciated Christmas cake.

So, a short 10 miler ride but everyone agreed a great night out on the Downs and certainly a ride where you needed the group banter and good humour to make a cold, dark winters night a fun ride for all.

Big thanks to Rick for leading and Janine for some truly ace festive cake(it had holly and icing on it and everything!)

Oh, and the sofa, fire and red wine were all there when I got home…Guy

Merry Christmas everyone !

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