We arrived at Sussex Uni car park on a very sunny Saturday morning ready to take on some new trails and tricks we’d learnt on the skills course with Astounding Adventures. Having ridden the trails at Stanmer Park the week before, I knew they would be super dry, so I couldn’t wait to get out there.
We were greeted by Ronnie and Mike and after a few more bikers turned up we headed off into the nearest tree line. It immediately felt good to be out with like minded people, and the pace was relaxed. We ducked into a trail and wound up through the woods, straight away I was on a trail I’d never noticed before, I must of ridden past it dozens of times… this was going to be a good day.
The next trails we hit I had ridden before and it was reassuring to keep up with Mike who was ahead of me. We headed towards an area I knew well so I knew exactly what was coming. I’d been there only a week ago practising manuals and drops, but what I didn’t expect was that we’d be hitting the biggest of the jumps! I decided to take it easy and there was no pressure from the group to tackle the big stuff. We started small and by the end of the section I had tackled bigger jumps than I realised I was capable of. It felt good and the encouragement from the guys really helped build confidence. Annoyingly I managed to pull muscles in my hand and lower back whilst performing the most simple of manoeuvres, but I kept quiet and rode through it, I wasn’t about to duck out early on my first club ride! Hugo and Ben had to leave us at this point, and we moved on.
So, on we went, tackling more trails I’d never seen before, the pace was good, and it was getting hard to keep up with the regulars on unknown terrain, but they waited patiently for us at every opportunity. A mixture of man-made and natural obstacles kept us on our toes, and off our bikes! But it was good to try something more challenging than normal and to get a chance to try things again, rather than bumbling through everything then wondering how on earth I didn’t eat dirt.
It became apparent very quickly that these guys were really good at this stuff, and that I had a lot to learn. But it was also clear that they wanted to share their wisdom and help us improve our own skills. All in all I had a great day with Brighton MTB, and I’ll definitely be back for more!
Riders in the photos are Hugo, Ben, Mike, Martin, Russ and Rich and Rich….