It had been raining, not just your average rain, Amazon Forest style monsoon fill your boots kind of rain. Having only been on 3 rides with Brighton MTB before you could forgive me for staying at home, in the warm, just me, my belly and the telly. That seemed like a bit of a cop out. With a quick fix of yet another side wall ‘flint slice’ puncture and a last tweak of what is fast becoming a rear derailleur nightmare, I chucked the bike on the back of the car and headed off for the Thursday night ride.
Curiously on arrival at the car park, I was the only person there. Odd. There’s always someone there before me, was there some kind of conspiracy? Had I been vetoed for managing to cartwheel over the back of my bike, still carrying the bike, on to another innocent rider the previous week? The arrival of Ronnie quelled my Area 52 vibe, and on further discussion concluded that the Noah’s Ark amount of rain the previous day and the ever shortening days explained the turn out. A turnout which as we set off a swelled to an impressive 4 (unusual compared to the normal 15+), Neil (Començal Meta5) and Alex (Boardman Pro) had joined the waterproof masses.
As we set off I was in high spirits, having helped out at the Big Dog I had seen first hand the carnage that can be created in the woods by a bit of rain, and admittedly several hundred bikers, this was going to be fun. This is where the detail gets blurry, I’m good for the first 15 minutes of any ride in the woods, and then the local knowledge of the regulars takes over. We ride for what seems like 20 minutes down twisty single track, a few log jumps in the way, nothing huge, but enough to keep you smiling when they’re as greasy as grease on a greasy thing. Then bamb, we are 50m’s from where we started, and I was sure we were going the end up in New Zealand.
The dark was closing in and I was already thanking the slightly off the ball line picker at chain reaction that accidently included a Hope Vision One on my bottom bracket delivery (of course I called and advised them of the mistake instantly, but they insisted I kept it). So a new experience for me, pitch black in the woods, and very greasy roots and slippery off camber trails. Frankly, I loved it. The pace was quick, every so often you’d hear a f**k me as someone held on to a bike wildly doing something that was not expected, but it was swiftly followed by someone else checking ‘you OK’, yes and a laugh was the standard response. I managed a few good nose dives, Ronnie looked like he was ice skating as I followed him down a particularly off camber trail, Neil was showing his trail knowledge well but still fell foul here and there and Alex was discovering the merits of dropping his saddle, as well as himself at times.
Slippery, dark, wet and a whole lot of fun. The homeward leg summed it up, starting with a lovely track at the top of the hill, it seems faster in the dark but flows brilliantly, and a badger sighting on the way. Then in to the final straight, although it was anything but, twisty, tight, tricky, pitch black and according to one rider patrolled by the beast of the park, but I reckon it was a rabbit, seriously it hopped and looked like a rabbit.
So was it worth it? Yes. Is getting wet and muddy an issue? No, it makes you feel alive. Is it better than sitting on my arse on the sofa? Definitely. Will I be back next week? Of course (well unless I am on new baby duties) .
Thanks to the friendly bunch at Brighton MTB.