Another great turnout for a Tuesday Nightride. 23 riders met in the East Woodlands church carpark, and after the first Byway, divided into 11 riders in the Social group and 12 in the... erm.... 'Anti-social' group.
On leaving the carpark, Ryan's crank promptly fell off. The first of many mishaps for the evening.
Aboard his Charge Cooker 29er prototype, Neil took charge of the Anti-social group and led a superb ride. There were two new faces in the ASG this week in a 'try-before-you-buy' capacity; a work colleague of Chas', and a young tri-athlete prodigy, Matt from Trowbridge, who pretty-much set the pace for the group. After half-an-hour it was all a bit of a shock for Chas' workmate who sadly had to bale-out after 'hitting the wall' on just the second climb.
A regroup at the water feature and then a sprint down NCN24 to Centre Parcs. While negotiating 'Doodles' another crank-arm fell off. This time Sean was the victim (as his Singlespeed became a Halfspeed) and had to drop from the group. Kev nobly sprinted back to East Woodlands to retrieve his car to save Sean the long walk home. I think someone's chain snapped at this point, too...
A bit further on and we were soon sampling the unique delights of the undergrowth singletrack around Cannimore and Buckler's Wood. Our rapidly-decreasing group of nine undertook the newly-found (and as yet unnamed) stretch of trail that wriggles its way through dense, small trees with low branches and stumps to negotiate through its entirety. A challenge in dexterity rather than speed, this trail takes a full five or six minutes of shoulder-dropping and track-standing to complete, hopefully without dabbing. All riders emerged intact at its end, with just a torn armwarmer and a ripped t-shirt for our troubles. Just then, by a staggering coincidence, Geraint who was just returning from London in a hired van, drove past as we were dusting ourselves down and hailed us over for a chat.
Then a quick sprint back along the singletrack and over to the outskirts of Crockerton to ride a firm favourite, The Badger Run, down to Shear Water. A few sharp climbs back out of the forest up to the road and we followed the path back around Centre Parcs, through the toll booths to the top of The Allotment and rode the Dinner til Dusk descent before retracing our steps and heading homewards. En route to East Woodlands another Anti-social rider wended their own way home leaving just eight to return, dusty and happy, back to the pub and cars.
All trails were superbly dry and dusty making for some very interesting cornering in places, but providing masses of traction on the climbs. Even the perma-puddles were developing dry lines through them which is always an encouraging sight. Dust was certainly the main feature of the evening, and youthful exuberance and enthusiasm often boiled over in the form of skidz enshrouding all who followed them in pyroclastic flows. Skidz ARE for kidz, people.
All in all a superb evening's ride for the Anti-socials who were all surprisingly very social despite losing 33% of our number during the course of the evening.
I'm afraid I can't comment on the Social group's ride as I didn't hang around at the pub, but I'll bet they had a great ride too ;O)
Oh, and Al "26-till-I-die" Mackinlay was later seen test-riding a 29er in the pub car park and was heard to comment "It rides like a bike". You'll all be riding them soon, I tells ya...