Kaff resumed her role as group “Lonely Girl”, more of which later, and was joined by Ron, Pat, Rob, Simon, Glenn, Barry, James, Duncan, Michael, Michal, Neil, Dangerous, Sam, Tommy, Colm, Kregg (?) and Myself.
It was a poor start to the day for me as I punctured in the car park, thanks for the help Ron, but thankfully that was the end of our mechanical issues for the day. We set out to do the loop around the forest edge and after fairly quick start made our way over ENR at The Warren Wood and then following the usual trails down to Strawberry Ponds. The rain of Friday had made the trails pretty sketchy and the downhill to Loughton Brook produced loads of moments for everyone on the way down. Good fun once you’d made it down safely.
Our second climb of the day took us up and over Staples Hill. It’s a bit of a stinker and with reduced traction was greeted as usual with some choice comments and a bit of walking. It was very humid (Singapore like) and being followed by the further climb up to Baldwins Hill proved too much for Glenn who unusually for him decided to call it a day and took a rest break.
The rest of us made it to Goldings Hill Ponds and then onto the downhill to Debden and another fairly good climb up to the pond filled Ridges at Jacks Hill where Barry took a big tumble. After a quick regroup we headed through The Bracken Field towards Four/Five Logs going a bit off-piste on route trying to find another way through. Thanks to Simon's keen sense of direction we eventually emerged on the log trail and made our way up to the bridle path and onto the long descent down into Theydon Church. From this point this must be one of the longest downhill’s in the whole forest and was so good that some of us climbed back to the top and did it again!
Ron and Tommy joined the list of defectors as we climbed again up to Four Corners. Rob then came up with the next part of the route and led us back to ride the logs in reverse, much tougher, and then onto a great trail we’d not ridden in ages back through the ferns to The Ridges and then along the sandy path to Epping Road above Old Orleans. Lunch was starting to call so we made the run back to Bradleys via the Double (now single) Logs and High Beach.
Lunch over and now without Dangerous, Rob and Kregg(?)we headed back to the loos for a comfort break and water re-fill and then out towards Big View via a bit of a play stop at Mecca. At Big View we rode the rooty downhill to the green at The Woodbine. Despite Barry’s kind offer of showing us a nice bridle way to head back on we retraced our steps to the bottom of Big View and then rode across the hill finding some nicely built log rides on the way. After crossing Claypit Hill we made our way towards the bottom of High Beach and found another really nice log ride which we had a good play on which brings me back to Kaff.
Unusually for our group she has been the lone lady rider out with all us blokes for quite a few of the recent rides. I know that she now has a very good new bike to ride which has obviously given her some confidence but on Saturday she had a go at everything we pointed her at, seemed to really enjoy herself doing it and I thought it was something which, at risk of people saying “well why shouldn’t she”, was really worthy of a mention.
From The Wellington we rode the Church trails and then went down Andy’s and over the log ride where Barry got some good pics. From there it was downhill to the log bridge and with Pat leading, on Pat’s Path, onto the trails back to The Graveyard and home for the large gathering at the debrief in the SH.
Not really sure how far we went but it felt like it was a proper Rads ride.