Last Sunday saw another successful Away-day to a firm BCC favourite, the Quantock Hills.
The weather was frankly stunning with a slight chill to the breeze but bright sunshine - a perfect, clear, Spring day. There had been substantial rainfall overnight so the trails were all a little wet, but that did little to dampen our sprits. It only seemed to dampen our shorts.
From our rendezvous at Triscombe Stone car park, ride-leader Chris immediately brought out the Big Guns with a decision for us to negotiate The Chimney via some very slippery, sinuous singletrack. The previous night's precipitation had made it all a little dicey, but all riders successfully navigated the infamous steep, rocky trench with nothing more than the odd dab to spare our blushes.
From there, a long fireroad haul up through Great Wood to another highlight of the Quantocks - Dead Woman's Ditch* - another long, rock-strewn trench made more difficult by the rain. Yet another long haul upwards, this time up onto the exposed tops of the hills with their fine views over the Bristol Channel, and then another magnificent descent, this time down Somerton Combe complete with its optional 2ft drop-off halfway down. Here we had a bite to eat and engaged in some suitably heroic photography. One of the most evil climbs on the Quantocks then ensued to take us back to the top via Lady's Edge* to Bicknoller Post. Another pause here while the majority of us stuffed lungs back in and heart-rates returned to something like normal. Then the long scenic route along the spine of the hills via the Ox Drove back to the car park at Triscombe Stone.
A select few then opted to extend the ride by heading off for a second attempt at sampling The Chimney's unique delights. In the car park at its bottom, all felt we'd made a better job of it that time. After a few minutes' wait, two of our number failed to emerged from the woods and a three-man search-and-rescue party was duly despatched back up the hill (on foot) only to discover Al manfully fitting an emergency inner-tube to Marjory's burped rear tubeless tyre.
We'd lost a lot of height there, so to save the usual long uninspiring fireroad climb back up to the top a new ascent was recommended and investigated via St Johns Well. It was noted that this climb was steep in places and uphill in others...
Back to the car park for tea and biscuits from Geraint's catering wagon. It was agreed by unanimous decision that he can come again.
Thanks to all who came, especially the drivers, and Chris with his inspirational ride-leading abilities.
(* renamed "Dead Person's Ditch" and "Person's Edge" so as not to offend the delicate feminist sensibilities of our female contingent).