After last weekend’s lack lustre effort it was good to get back to a proper Rads ride.
Joining in were, Helen, Kaff, Hannah, Wendy, Simon, Barry, Omar, Jeroen, Leon, Sam, Richie, Roy, Ben, new riders, Cathy and Steve (I’m a Geordie) and Myself.
We set out at a good pace down through The Graveyard and made our way to the stream crossing, which sadly no longer has the makeshift bridge where Roy came to grief. A few us did the conventional thing and rode through the water whilst others chose to use the single plank that spanned the narrower part of the stream to get across.
I’m sure Wendy will tell you that it must have been the weight of those that went before her that caused it to finally break as she stepped on it but it was her that ended up stood in the stream up to her ankles and when her attempts to climb out led to another dunking and a pair of sealskinz full of water the only thing to do was take them off and empty them out.
Meanwhile, Omar was in some more permanent trouble, stood next to his bike with a stripped crank in his hand. Being British, he took a look at the offending parts, shook his head, declared it beyond repair and blamed it on the feckless, lazy, Mexican who used to maintain his bike. We did try a repair using some fairly basic materials but as soon as he put the power down it was no go and he was forced to retire to the hacienda.
We made our way to Connaught Water’s and then zig-zagged our way across the lower trails to the bottom of Fairmead Road where Geordie Steve, riding his brand new, Bike Trax supplied, reflector laden Hard Rock, had a lovely over the bars in front of the whole group.
Over ENR, we headed towards Warren Hill and then looped back to Strawberry Ponds before doing the quick downhill to the bottom of Earl’s Path. At Staples Pond we took a trail we don’t do that often, riding up the steep climb towards Staples Hill and then following the trail over Clay Ride up to The Forrester’s, then along the road to enter the forest again at the top of Baldwin’s Hill where someone had erected a Wig Wam blocking the trail.
After riding the nice trail downhill, as Jeroen and I climbed up towards Goldings Hill Ponds, we surprised a bloke, big white pants around his knees, squatting for a no. 2 at the edge of the trail. We passed him without a word being said and he, maintaining his squat, shuffled off into the bushes before the rest of the group passed by. It’s not often I’m lost for words but.................
We crossed Golding’s Hill and rode the downhill to the bridle path and then up through Indian Summer to The Ridges at Jacks Hill. At this point Simon left us due to his dodgy shoulder and the group started to get into where are we having lunch mode.
They were not too enthusiastic about my suggestion to head east and follow the trail towards the Deer Sanctuary but nevertheless, that’s what we did (democracy) and were rewarded by a great run downhill to the stream at Debden Camp where Roy went all soprano on us after his crown jewels were given a swift introduction to his bars.
We passed the strutting stags in the sanctuary, crossed Jacks Hill and headed onto the climb up to Fork Handles and the trail down through the golf course to The Forest Gate where we were welcomed by the return of the crazy waitress who had obviously been on an episode of Extreme Makeover and had re-styled herself, by a strange co-incidence, as a Mexican, poncho and all. One in, one out! The room inside was booked out so feeling as welcome as a ham sandwich at a bar mitzvah, we ate outside.
Lunch over, Hannah and Cathy headed back and we hit the trail towards Five Logs. At the stream crossing, Leon continued his run of good luck by performing the slowest high side in the history of two wheeled sport. He fell in the goo and, much to his disappointment, got his beige shorts dirty, again.
No real dramas followed as we rode the logs and from there we wound our way through the ferns to The Ridges again, before crossing ENR. We made a quick stop to attend to Roy’s sticky rear brake and then rode the trail to The Avenue and down to The Woodcutters, following the usual route over the fallen tree and Double Logs, where there was a stylish exhibition, and all the way back to High Beech.
Loo stop over, we were getting a bit pub o’clock, so headed down Lippet’s with Barry taking a dip, although not technically an off, into the stream and along the bridle for a way, before ducking back into the forest again to ride the trail down to Duncan’s Log where Richie showed us how it’s done.
From there we headed back to the car park via The Graveyard again and to the SH for a meet up with The Mods, Omar, Tammy (Bean), Corinne, Fiona, Steve, Helen, Charles, Michael and his 200mm.
For all you mud phobics out there, the forest was in great order yesterday. There was mud, and plenty of it, but the lack of rain and the high winds had done a good job in providing a dry line almost everywhere which allowed us to keep a good pace up throughout the ride. Wouldn’t mind betting we did a respectable 18-20 miles!
Final word is to say well done to Geordie Steve, not only for staying with us on his first ride, but for standing alone in front of a pub full of Gooners, cheering every goal Newcastle scored till they drew level. Top stuff!
Thanks to Barry for the pics and the sail tape.
See you all at Tunnel Hill.