Well it was due to be the end of season ride but it felt like summer had just begun! The plan was to ride out from the shop to Whiteways with a bit of time spent there before heading back to the shop for a bite to eat. We were pleased to be joined by two new faces Olly and Rich.
The first hill after the railway crossing is only ridden up in summer so we all walked up shortly followed by a slightly puffed Ronnie with a dubious claim that he had ridden up… jury is still out on that one! From here we headed out across the fields to Nutbourne riding across an unfamiliar summer landscape. Olly remarked that he felt he was riding in the South of France. On to West Chiltington before heading across the golf course; this is always tough going through the occasional deep sand. The weather hasn’t been kind this summer and the going was extremely muddy in some places. We then hit some good single-track through Wiggonholt but had to take the direct route with everyone behind interested in the many other trails through the trees.
We headed down the quieter roads towards Amberley. A quick pit stop at the Sportsman for an energy bar and a drink (no pints though) prepared us for the steep climb on the South Downs Way en-route to Whiteways.
My estimate of 45 minutes to here was somewhat incorrect – taking us more like 90 minutes! (I have to admit here that it has always taken me an hour!) From Whiteways I handed the mantle to Ronnie who introduced yet another new route to me. Whiteways is a regular haunt for me and it never ceases to amaze me how many hidden tracks there are.
The planned route here was cut due to time but we still ran six sections of trails. Unfortunately after the first section Phil managed to bend the rear mech. A bodge was fabricated but he was forced to gingerly take the road back.
How many of us carry a spare hanger was the topic of conversation with only Pete carrying a spare for his Turner 5-spot while riding his Thorn…
The rest of the ride then descended back to Amberley again picking up the South Downs Way – Amberley Mount then beckoned and a valiant effort was made by all to climb this killer hill. Olly and Rich rose to the challenge and both of them nearly managed the top on their first attempt. Great effort that.
Riding along the top we passed Kithurst point and descended back to Storrington, a very technical route but one of my favourite single tracks. Gullies, roots, steps, slippery chalk and tight corners make this a very testing section and not for beginners but everyone raced down and ended up in one piece.
Dropping into Storrington we picked up the route along the edge of the gliders field. Rob has flown gliders a couple of times and tells us it must be easy as he did not crash!
We retraced our steps across the golf course and up to the little wooden plank bridge. It is very narrow and the landing end has completely worn away with some tree roots as the only way onto dry land. Having done this several times I was challenged to show that it could be done and after a small slip on the first attempt the second attempt resulted in success! None of the others wanted to try afterwards though.
Back at the shop we had a BBQ of hamburgers, lamb and sausages. Although we got back later than anticipated an enjoyable day was hopefully had by all.