Thursday 24th June.
On a balmy Thursday evening I turned up to Sussex University and as I pulled into the carpark I noticed lots of excited looking people and a couple of guys dancing to Yazoo hits beside their car. No it wasn’t an 80’s night but my first ride with Brighton MTB! There was excitement in the particularly warm air and why wouldn’t there be on a beautiful evening like this with the thought of riding lovely dry trails after the recent bizarrely generous dry spell we’ve been having! Around the carpark people were making final adjustments to bikes, riding up and down practising some skills, having a good chinwag or dancing to yazoo?!
As riding time drew closer the group started to assemble until the final figure of 17 riders with various pieces of bike porn were ready and raring to go. As we set off someone asked whether everyone could swim – what have I let myself in for I thought! Luckily nobody needed to swim as we did laps of a concrete pond with sloping sides, although I think it was hoped that somebody might provide some entertainment by pushing there luck a little too far and going for a swim – a camera was positioned ready!
After the pond we continued on up the hill to a section of singletrack full of jumps of various sizes, I was asked by Ronnie whether I had done much jumping, I haven’t and I think my inexperience showed! The guys very kindly guided myself and Caroline (who was out on her second ride) through and gave us pointers so that we made it through in one piece. Most of the jumps were rollable save for a couple which could be avoided. Halfway through this section somebody snapped their chain but Ronnie had a spare powerlink and helped them fix it. This happened next to one of the biggest of the jumps so the more experienced riders had a chance to session this (interesting to watch) which gave me and Caroline a few more tips on jumping.
Mechanical problem fixed and off we went, the rest of the ride consisted of miles of amazing single track, a few more jumps (and crashes!) and some exciting technical obstacles. Particularly good was a track which I think was named ‘Tank Track’, it was a real roller coaster and at one point had a section that required riding along a fallen down tree and down the ramp at the end. I didn’t manage it as my front wheel slipped on some moss – next time! The final part of the ride consisted of loads of nice fast winding single track to really get the adrenaline flowing and smiles widening. Another highlight was a fallen tree standing around about 5 foot off the ground with log ramps on either side so it could be ridden over, this was left to the more experienced riders and it looked quite tricky judging by the number of near misses!
As it started to get dark we blasted through the last bits of singletrack and headed back to the carpark, I can remember some kind of large critter bouncing off the back of my throat and being sucked down my windpipe before I had the chance to spit it out – Oh well extra protein is always good!
All in all it was a really enjoyable ride, I never knew what amazing riding we have right on our doorstep and I don’t think I ever would have without coming along on this ride. Everyone can ride at there own pace, with no pressure and everyone is friendly, helpful and happy to offer advice if needed. A big thanks to everyone, they do a great job of organising the ride and route and really look out for you if you’ve not ridden with them before.
See you all again next Thursday!