Extreme Gardening: Whiteways Ride August 09
Hectic single track, a tree stump, braking, lost it, over we go (only the third time today). Felt quite safe for a fall – must be something to do with the adrenalin rush – also felt shunt moving me forward. Metallic noises (rider behind forgivingly non-vocal). More metallic noises (likewise newest rider). Sorry guys!
My abiding memory of my first Brighton MTB outing? – not at all.
I’d seen the network of bridleways in the forest area west of Whiteways on the map. It looked interesting. I hadn’t seen the Brighton MTB site and the Whiteways meet until the day before. Great thing the interweb.
On Sunday I was belting down single track created specially for bikers out of forest. I’ve seen such things in the Grizedale Forest in the Lake District, but they seem a more commercial thing. The single track was technical and exciting to ride. The heavy rain the day before helped! Scrapes one and two were over fairly promptly after the start. No damage done and it felt as though I’d got the hang of it.
Where did we go? No idea at all. In the car park before we set off, I mentioned the bridleways I’d seen on the map and was a bit mystified by the response, “We won’t be using them!”
Some parts were very overgrown and speed was the only way of making sure the branches and brambles didn’t get a complete grip and slow you to a standstill. This results in scratches and blood, but Savlon cream was on tap. Later we rode tracks we were told were very overgrown!
I was probably the oldest biker on the day and definitely suffered several decades on some. But someone was always with me to ensure I didn’t drop off the back and get lost. Four hours into the ride I was given a gel shot by another friend (note to self: I must remember people’s names). How I’ve avoided gel shots all the years, I don’t know. True to predictions, the shot gave me the boost I sorely needed to get me to the end. The group was friendly, fun and – most importantly – forgiving of a less fit and able rider (thanks all round).
The mystery for me is not where we’d been but more how the ride leader gets to know the single track routes. I’m only guessing here, but this may be explained if they are one of a band of dedicated extreme gardeners, locked away in the forest creating bike paths, complete with tricksy bits. And that, I’m sure, is quite another story.