Thursday 11th June 2010, my second ride with Brighton mtb. Having not been on a bike for over 6 years now, and finally blowing the cobwebs off my bike 2 weeks previous I met the guys in the usual Stanmer Car Park for another fun fuelled evening.
To my complete surprise, I appeared to have lost most of my fitness and bike skills – the fitness and skills I thought would just still be there on tap. The previous week, my first ride, I was not prepared at all, no food, drink, lights etc. and was surprised at how fit all my fellow riders were. None of them claim to be fitness fanatics just guys that like to ride, which is very true but they still could just push on when I was flagging. But as Mike had promised it’s not a race and everyone was happy to wait for me.
Anyway I digress, it’s 7pm and only 7 (as opposed to 24 the week previous) of us have turned up, we hung on a little bit then we were off. A short burst up hill into the woods and back onto the fantastic single track the guys have been creating.
Just to put you in the picture, I had seen a couple of the guys come off the previous week, and wondered when I could expect the same, well within 10mins of the ride beginning I found out.
Lifting my front wheel to clear a fallen tree I managed to bury my front wheel firmly into the said tree trunk and send myself flying over the bars, and then BANG I hit the other fallen tree bits and pieces and wow it hurt. Mike was there straight away (nice bloke) checking I was still intact. Then it was brush myself down and get on with it.
From what I can make out at Stanmer, there is a series of dual track/fire roads through the woods, with countless interconnecting single tracks the guys like Ronnie and Mike have put together over the years.
You use the dual track as a fast method of getting from chosen single track to chosen single track so pretty much every ride you can string together a new route INSPIRED.
So then you get onto these single tracks, which could be fast, sweeping and open, to crossing a dual track and immediately then being met with a slower super twisty/technical section. Then its a breather (just a little one so everyone gets chance to catch up and have a sip of squash). More single track ahead, this time its a jumps section but my Man Pride is going to take a second knock as guess what I bury my front wheel yet again and you know what comes next OOOWWW. Not so painful this time so straight up and everyone was there checking I was ok.
So then we were of again down another single track, fast and flowing but Mike and Ronnie have built some fantastic log rolls for us to go over, Ronnie noticed something amiss, realising the obstacle had been altered by someone stopped us all and we all chipped in fixing it and getting more logs etc. It appears its a constant job these guys do not only building new routes but maintaining them also. Towards the end of this section was a slow steep down hill section which I tried but as it got steeper and steeper I got the fear and bottled out, again my Man Pride took a knock but everyone was very supportive saying that in a couple more visits I would be doing it just like them. (thanks).
Next up was the SWEETIE stop NICE. Just here was a large mound that the guys have been pondering using as a spring board to a large jump, none of us actually did said jump but I think it’s going to happen soon. Right before you know it its 8.30 and a route needs to be agreed back down to the car park, the guys seem to settle on what they call the Double Down we all liked the sound of that as we didn’t have to do much more climbing.
So minus a few breathers for the slower riders (or rather me) it was about 30mins of down hill/level riding blatting up and down left and right through and over the trees (it is seriously fantastic non stop single track, smooth, gnarly, fast, dead slow, you name it) and finally back down to the car park for a quick chat about up coming rides, a laugh about crashes and off home with a big smile.
I seriously can say that any rider with any or high expectations of track quality could come here and be blown away with what is available, hats off to Ronnie and Mike (and obviously all the other guys who’ve chipped in) and what they’ve done. If you have the time, the bike, and well the inclination to ride your mountain bike you couldn’t do much better than giving Brighton MTB a try. Thanks chaps I’m hooked again.