So, for the second Thursday in a row I would be spending the evening with a bunch of guys in muddy woodland, last week 180,000 at Glastonbury, this week 20 at the weekly BrightonMTB meet.
The night began as usual in the car park at Sussex uni, greeting a few new faces and comparing new kit. Time to choose a ride leader, and after a little persuasion Rob was volunteered… I think he realised he wouldn’t have to ride UP as much singletrack if he was leading the group! This was the first night ever I had forgotten my pack, so I was half expecting to get a puncture before even leading the carpark.
Off into Stanmer park we rode, up the usual firetrails until we reached the first group of trails at the top. We warmed up with a couple of old favourites, before riding a trail with some nicely built features, first a nice log pile followed by some nicely shaped doubles and berms. The route out of here was a little narrow and more than one person suffered a “bike, tree interface”.
Next up, my “favourite”, tank traps, a rooty off camber section of trail. Ronnie as ever was doing his best to show the “easy” way in, but few seemed to believe him and took the better trodden path. Ronnie had helped me out a couple of weeks ago with choosing a line through here and it helped a lot tonight, resulting in riding it with much more flow.
To infinity and beyond, or just to Buzz Lightyear trail, with a couple of new features to roll over. As flowy as ever this was a great trail.
We now headed to the other side of the park via a nice fast section of downhill fireroad. Nerves were tested to see who would brake first, a couple of walkers making interesting trail features. A choice of routes uphill followed either the singletrack or the easy fireroad. Sadly I have to report that I was slower on the fireroad than the guys riding up the rooty singletrack. Next time hey…
The next trail led us to the “Sting in the tail” feature. This has been built up over a large fallen tree and after a few tales of somersaults over it, about half the guys hit the feature nicely including it’s shaper. Queue much goading of Ronnie who didn’t fancy it tonight. I didn’t either of course, but have since sneaked back on my own and conquered it, and indeed it is now nice and smooth.
“Lights are gay…”, Ali was chastised by the northern contingent for having the cheek to turn on his lights before 9pm. I mean, why would he, we could see at least 5m in front of ourselves by that point!? Ali wasn’t “so gay” though when he brought out the traditional sours sweets a couple of trails later…
A couple more trails, losing and regaining Ronnie in the process, led us down to the bottom of the Park and back to the cars. After putting the bike in the car I saw Ronnie approaching me, hopefully to complement me on a great ride… “Have you ever written a ride report Chris?!”.