Thursday Evening Ride: A Different Perspective

'Ill-in-the-head' trail

‘Ill-in-the-head’ trail

Now that shouldn’t have happened now should it? … I’m flat on my back looking at the tree canopy as my fellow riders check I’m OK… The evening had started so well too.

I would be in Brighton for a three-day conference at the University; an enquiry on Singletrackworld had been met with a number of responses recommended a spin with the guys from Brighton MTB on Thursday evening.

The ride out from Brighton was as straight forward as had been promised and I arrived at five to seven ready for the off.  I introduced myself to a number of the group – my contacts from STW were there and introduced me to other members of the group a number of whom seemed impressed that my usual riding was in Northamptonshire and that I’d made the effort to join them whilst on a “business” trip.

Further talk was the usual pre-ride banter, haranguing late arrivals and it should be noted, an impressive level of fettling / faffing – tyres being replaced and entire bikes reassembled.  Eventually – Tangfastics shared out, not for the last time that evening – we set off towards the trails.

The ride was not quite as expected I’ll be honest, whilst the riding in general was easy going: some nice singletrack and a bit of fireroad in between, there was an onus on the sessioning of numerous manicured obstacles that punctuated the trails, so the evening was infused with a strong technical flavour. These obstacles usually comprised a large fallen tree with exit and entry ramps of wood and earth.  Instructions and encouragement were issued to the newcomers, while the regulars demonstrated their proficiency (or otherwise) at clearing the obstacle.  This is where we came in, having cleared a number of these obstacles my confidence had peaked, this next one was beneath a gloomy canopy of sycamores and the instructions were to roll the first section, carry some speed for the second and roll that too, both up-and-over no drop-offs or hidden nasties, except they failed to mentioned the tree between the two logs that I should have seen, but didn’t until it bounced off my right ear, right shoulder and deposited me on my back.  I was  informed that no one had ever hit that tree before… it’s now Mark’s tree.  Having come back down to earth quite literally, confidence was now back to normal levels and with things a bit sore, we rode out the rest of the circuit in the gathering dusk.

The ride was finished in the warm half-light of a July evening, with a broken rear mech, bolts missing from rear pivots and very smart steeds making very inappropriate noises. The bruises have all but healed and the scuffs and scratches are forgotten and on reflection I look back with a smile. The riding was challenging in places, certainly taking me out of my comfort zone, and the company excellent, any new riders just need to take along a sense of adventure, an eye for a tree and a tube of arnica ointment.

Thanks to all the riders involved

Mark Loveday

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