There off, and where better to start than a report on trail conditions. The going, as they say in bookmakers the length and breadth of the country, was officialy good to firm and out to enjoy the spring sunshine were some fine fillies, Dawn, Kaff & Hannah, a string of fine stallions in James, Richie, Simon & Lorenzo, some thoroughbreds in Mal, Sam & Sparky, new rider Borja, who by his own admission, worships donkeys, Ian, who had a mare the whole ride and Me, a clapped out carthorse all set for the glue factory.
We headed up Pole Hill in preparation for the now customary whizz round the race training loop. Glenn joined us as we topped the climb and led by a flying Simon it was go, go, go. We completed lap one and found that the majority of the group were scattered to all corners with Kaff who was a bit under the weather, somehow ending up at Bury Road from where she gave in to her ailments and retired.
Through The Graveyard, to No Name Corner and then out via Duncan's log to Fairmead Road for the climb up to meet Pat at High Beech. From there we headed out past the Conservation Centre and onto the nice rooty trail to the crossing of ENR at The Drop-off. After climbing up to the path to The Bombholes, Hannah decided to return home and the rest of us rode through to Clay Ride and onto Omar's Race Track which too close together as we were, was great fun. Worse climb of the day was definitely the drag up the grass from Baldwins Pond and to then follow that with the climb up to Goldings Hill was a bit cruel but hey, no pain no gain.
From the rope swing drop-off we headed fast onto the downhill to the bottom of Indian Summer where impatience got the better of me and I ended up stacking it in a big puddle, making a nice mess of my shin. Some people will never learn!
We climbed up through the ferns to Jacks Hill and then rode the whole length of The Ridges before crossing Epping High Road and following the trail through the pines back to the gates of Copped Hall.
Turning off Lodge Rd we then did a great bit of off piste, disturbing a small herd of deer, down to the bridleway towards Woodridden Hill. We crossed the road and headed to Big View and the trail past Mecca and back to High Beech where after a quick loop of the track at Wellington Hill we headed toward Bradley's and our lunch stop where we were joined by a very casual looking Felons, who'd spent the morning at a Toys R Us festival with Charlie.
Lunch over and with Dawn (18T) in need of a loo stop we headed north again to The Double Logs, out through Wake Valley car park and onto the trail towards Old Orleans with James showing us two or maybe three times how not to tackle the halfway log ride. At Old Orleans we crossed the roundabout into Deershelter Plain and headed at speed down to The Boggy Valley, a great bit of trail.
Heading for home we rode the W, Stream Logs and V before crossing ENR again where up on the bridle path I had my second puncture of the day (both split at the valve).
From there we skirted High Beech, rode the Church trails and then onto a quick descent of Lippets which was dusty dry.
At the bottom of the hill I departed to the car park and the rest rode the trails into the back of Connaught and back to the car park.
The debrief was livened up by the comedy arrival of Sze who had to be assisted into the SH after her day out scumming with Tommy. We were later joined by The Mods, Michael and Steve who arrived just in time for the 6pm sambuca round (so wrong) to salute Pat's impending 50th. I hear it was a late one.
Posted on our forum by