I’d officially like thank the random person who I met on a random ride about 4 months ago who told me I should come along to the Brighton mtb club rides on a Thursday night. I have no idea what his name was or where he came from, so for want of a better imagination, will have to call him “Whats his face” for now! Anyway “Whats his face”, I finally made it to this ride last night and I have to say it was the most fun I’ve ever had on the South Downs!
I was a bit nervous when I turned up at the car park, and my nerves weren’t assayed when, surrounded by a bunch of very fit looking young men, I tentatively asked “Do you get many girls coming along to these rides then?” To which the reply was, “Urm, well we do get the odd one”. Chuckle, chuckle! “They don’t come back then?” “Oh yes. We have a couple of regulars but one has gone to China for 6 months!” Jesus, surely it can’t be that bad I thought to myself. And then, “they are mad – downhillers, turn up fully body armoured up and are faster than any of us”. Oh great – that’s really helped calm my nerves!!
So feeling confident (!) and wondering what was in store for me, we set off into the woods. Although it was a fairly big group (there were actually only about 15 of us) it didn’t feel big and we were quickly riding loads of twisty, flowy singletrack with optional jumps and mini drops interspersed with some tricky turns and dodgy cambers! Mike was hanging back to look out for me and was really encouraging, explaining a few techniques which I tried to follow and copy. Well that is up until we reached a collection of logs where he said “Right on this one, just go at it fast and keep pedalling”. It made sense and what a fine demonstration it was Mike! But I’m afraid I wasn’t feeling brave enough to copy your unusual, yet very impressive landing! I know – that piece of wood had been left in completely the wrong place!
We were out for a good couple of hours, although it didn’t feel that long and we covered a fair bit of ground (seemingly mainly going down with no climbs – amazing!). It was a steady pace but everyone could go as fast or as slow as they liked on the singletrack, and even though I was the slowest, at no time was I made to feel like I was holding anyone up which was great!
There was quite a mix of bikes on the ride and I was intrigued at Steve’s single speed mountain bike as I wasn’t sure of the benefit of only having one gear. That is until the 3rd time he had to fix a gear problem and Andy commented, “I can see why you’ve only got the one gear then, imagine the time we’d spend waiting for you if you had any more!”.
So all in all, a really friendly bunch, with no massive egos (maybe a few bruised ones) and just a lot of people who love having fun and riding single track. Would be good to have some female company next time, but if not I’ll just have to man up a bit on those drops and stop wussing out at the last minute! Thanks so much for introducing me to all that singletrack, and thanks “Whats his face” for telling me to come along in the first place – wish I’d gone sooner – it was ace!
Bring on next Thursday!