Ride Report: Post Xmas Blow Out!

10 01 2010

Having been asked to lead the after Christmas ride on my home turf at Whiteways I decided to stick to some of the classic trails in an attempt to work off some of the Christmas excess. I was expecting only a few people to turn up so was pleasantly surprised to see that 16 other riders were waiting for me when I drove into the carpark (why am I always last to get to the ride start?) on a cold and grey December morning. The pre-Christmas snow was all now long gone replaced by some much more normal winter riding conditions, ie. damp, slippery, muddy trails.

A quick straw poll of riders and the route was set.  Across the A29 and up a slightly hidden, muddy trail for the start of the long singletrack run through Rewell wood. A quick regroup and then we hit the fast and straight-ish long downhill run to an ideal spot for a break and the first crash of the day.  A brief delay for first puncture of the day allowed some of the more adventurous riders to try some moderate jumps and drop-offs. This also allowed for Ming to perfect his skills at falling off his bike in front of an appreciative audience.

We crossed the A29 again and taking the lane up above Slindon started the long climb towards Glatting Beacon. Remembering some of the hidden singletrack that we had ridden up here during the LFH ride back in the summer, I decided to lead the group on a  detour off into the forest next to the trails for some more twisty, rooty fun. I have to admit that I was actually making up the route by this point: I was originally planning on taking the group into Nore and Eartham woods for a longer ride but a quick check of how everyone was feeling made it obvious that the both Christmas excess and slow muddy trails were starting to take its toll. An alternative trail was taken for the slog back up towards Glatting Beacon where we had to negotiate a rather large puddle at the top of the hill.

The stop at the top of Glatting Beacon allowed us to regroup, snack and fix another puncture. By now the cold and wind was starting to bite but, once we were moving again, we could start the return leg down the fireroad and on to the long fun forest trails back towards Whiteways. The trails didn’t disappoint either, in spite of the mud, the long fast singletrack remains pretty much intact and still a fun blast leading to the large bombhole. Another regroup after Jim and Mings’ “Kung-Fu” photo moments and we then had another debate about where to go next. I’d intended to take the group up into Langham wood and down the more technical forest trail but after Tony quickly recce’d the end point for this he came back with the news that it was completely lost under some very recent forestry work. I decided to lead the group on another climb up to a hidden trail and then a long meandering and slightly overgrown (ahem, bit of an understatement there, some trail clearing is obviously required) track that led partway back down through the forest. 

The alternative final trail we were going to take had also been completely destroyed by the new logging work and I was struggling to work out how to get the group back down the hill. This was getting silly now, and with me being slightly bloody minded by this point, I led the group down a fast trail alongside the destroyed main plantation but unfortunately the second half of which had obviously been used by a very, very large logging tractor. Imagine two wide tyre ruts that are so deep they have large conifer roots running across them. To ride fast down this was a challenge that we all seemed to rise to and we all whooped and tore down this new trail before finally heading back up to the car park and the traditional Muddy@rse après-ride fare of cake and coffee.

So if not a long ride then a good fun “blow the cobwebs away” ride instead . Big thanks to all who turned up and to Rick and Bob on sweeper duties . Happy New Year !  Guy

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