After years of wanting to join Brighton MTB but being prevented by the combined complexity of balancing a job that demands too many hours, 2 kids and a bike that kept falling apart, Thursday 4th August marked only my 2nd attempt to get out on a Thursday night and enjoy the trails of Stanmer Park.
I had spent the day looking out of the window of my meeting at Brighton Town Hall, watching the skies empty themselves and wondering if I would make it. My last ride in the rain had been on my brand new Genesis Core 40 which had come equipped with Continental Mountain King tyres. These are without doubt the worst wet weather tyres I have ever used and I had come off quite badly ending up in A&E… nothing to do whatsoever with my general lack of skill on a bike and entirely the fault of the rubber! My ego was bruised and my legs were cut up but by late afternoon the rain had stopped and so there were no excuses. I got on my bike with its lovely new grippy Maxxis High Rollers and headed for the University car park.
Having failed to regain all of my confidence since I came off I was pleased that the ride got underway at quite a relaxed pace and that I wasn’t the only one taking on the slippery ground with at least a modicum of apprehension. We started by doing a portion of the Big Dog course and I can now be confident of a top 5 finishing position I am sure. (Actually I am only doing the One Dog and was not far off last place in 2010 so I might need to revise my goals somewhat nearer the time.)
The rest of the ride combined some trails that I am familiar with and some that I am not, but all of which are great fun. One of the things I really enjoy about the Thursday night ride is that the uphill bits are treated in the way that uphill bits should be… they are a necessary evil which are only tolerated because they inevitably lead to going downhill fast afterwards. As the evening progressed and the light faded my lights went on and I was particularly impressed by the riders who had forgotten, or not bothered, to bring theirs but who continued regardless. At risk of being accused of having rather traditional views I have always been firmly in the camp of riders who prefer to be able to see where they are going when riding fast over slippery roots and unexpected obstacles.
Nonetheless, everyone made it back and there were no serious injuries. Once in the car park Ronnie approached me with a friendly question; ’You’ve been a couple of times now haven’t you?’ What a nice chap I thought, enquiring as to whether I had enjoyed the ride and whether I will be back. ‘Yeah, great ride’ I answered innocently. Then, without missing a beat, he pounced; ‘Good, you can write the ride report then’.
Oh well, a small price to pay for some fine riding.