Since discovering them online the BrightonMTB Facebook group and forums have proven to be an incredibly useful resource. Plenty of great tips on places to go riding and all things pedal powered. But it wasn’t until Thursday night that I actually had a chance to join the group for a ride. And was I glad I did.
There’s always something equally exciting and daunting about heading to a ride you’ve not taken on before. Despite riding around Stanmer Park on a number of occasions since becoming interested in riding trails rather than going cross-country all the time, I’d never been out on a mountain bike in the dark.
Oh well, there’s a first time for everything.
And with the help of a set of cheap Ebay lights and hurriedly chomped down energy bar I was ready roll with the group assembling at the Sussex Uni car park.
Before we set off the first thing that struck me was just how many people were out for the ride. 15 of us!
With that many lights on in the car park it was practically daylight. Then as we rolled up the hill and the group spread out, so the light started to separate until they were like fireflies darting through the trees.
The next couple of hours proved to be a fantastic mix of the Stanmer trails I knew with a few I hadn’t had the chance to ride yet. However, in the dark they all felt completely new. Some of the trails had dried out a little since the last time I was up there, though there was still plenty of mud hiding in the shadows ready to slip and slide on. All good fun , disorientating though. (And even with a handful of PBs)
As the narrow tunnel of light from my headlamp being cut through the darkness opened up into the car park the majority of the group made their way back home. I was happy to see that the online group’s friendly and knowledgeable nature had carried over into the ride. A great mix of abilities and characters made it easy to find people you could feel were helping you get the most out of your ride, while also having some good chat along the way. Four of us ventured on for a swift pint and a mountain of cheesy chips almost big enough for the bikes to roll down, before heading home to wash the mud of the bike.
Cheers for the ride guys! And a special thanks to David and Ronnie for guiding. Great fun, and a brilliant introduction to riding in the dark. I’ll definitely be back for more!