Last Thursday I joined up with the Brighton MTB for one of their now infamous Thursday night rides.
With a slight degree of nerves – this was my first night ride in a long time – and a large bucket of excitement I arrived at Sussex University Sports Car park. I met Simon – who I’ve ridden with a fair number of times – and got my bike ready. As the clock ticked towards 7pm, various people showed up and did the same with various people introducing themselves to the new faces – mainly myself.
With everyone ready, we set off into the woods. We did lots of nice climbs and some dusty single track. Compared to what I had been used to recently – mostly open tracks and muddle bridleways – this was a breath of fresh air.
We had tight corners along tight paths whilst going down up and down hills. It would give me great pleasure to give you a blow by blow description of each of the trails that we encountered but with a mostly new location containing new trails with new people means that most of it was a blur. Instead I shall relate some of the more memorable parts:
Picture a scene of a large tree trunk lying horizontally. There is a ramp up one side joining a ramp on the other. This middle section of the tree is about a metre high. The ramps are a little off camber. The aim of the game is to ride up one side, make your way over the trunk and down the other side. You get bonus points for style, not falling off and surviving with most of your bones intact. The trick it seems is to not even think about it, get some speed in your wheels and go for it. The bike knows how to do the rest. Although daunting the first time, several of us nailed it and even went on to do it again. It was good fun and felt nice to have places on the ride to push your skills, improve your confidence and have a nice cup of fear.
Turning on the lights. This was my first ride with my own set of lights – would they fit the bill? Would they provide the right conditions so that as the darkness crept in, I could keep up with the pace? Not only did they do the job I can still remember myself giggling inanely as the light went and we were darting through the forest. There really is no experience quite like peddling as hard as your legs will take you into the darkness with just your lights guiding the way. It is also quite a visual feast to see a train of mountain bikers heading off into the forest in front of you with lights blazing – makes the forest pretty magical.
The company. The company was excellent, a great ride is only possible with a good group of people around you. Not only was the banter good covering all sorts of topics but when people had problems – mainly someone taking a bale – others were there to help and make sure everyone was OK. I was made to feel very welcome by the nice chap leading the ride and was instantly made to feel part of the group.
All in all the ride was great fun and I remember clearly feeling a little disappointed as we headed back to the car park. I’d enjoyed myself so much that I really didn’t want the ride to finish – a true testament to how good it was. I did console myself with the fact that I would be back next Thursday enjoying another ride with the group!