So the Longleat trails have already returned to their default Winter setting: sandy, lumpy, custard. This didn’t deter a number of the Bath Wednesday Night group from visiting us last Sunday.
The Pub Bike Of Doom didn’t even make it to the bottom of the street, let alone Longleat. My shonky, Frankenbike, singlespeed which I’d fully intended to use that day had a worryingly old chain and I’d resolved to fit a new one that morning, purely for safety’s sake. Of course, the worn chainring, sprocket and tensioner couldn’t then cope with an un-worn chain and it was slipping all over the teeth as I attempted to make my way to East Woodlands to meet them.
I nipped back home cursing and retrieved my old steel hardtail from the shed. Geared, and with a modicum of working brakes and a suspension, it would have to do although I knew the bald Nevegals were not really going to be man-enough for a Longleat gloop-fest. No time to change them now, though.
With minutes to spare, I met with five members of the Bath Wednesday Nightriders and one BCC member. A few weeks ago the Bath lot enjoyed their evening visit so much they said they wanted to return soon for a Sunday, ride the trails in daylight and maybe see a bit more of the forest. So we fixed a date.
Weather was looking hopeful for the day; fairly mild with just a chance of a shower or two. I hadn’t ridden in the forest for a while but guessed from all the recent rain we’d had that the trails by now would not be at their best. This was indeed the case.
It was the second visit for several of their number, so I put together an almost entirely different loop incorporating all the best bits that they didn’t have time to ride a few weeks ago, and also revisited some trails backwards. Would they even realise? Nope.
Theme music for the day was Jurassic Park. Looking down from Heaven’s Gate, the safari park reminded Justin of the film and that was it. We were all whistling the damn theme tune for the rest of the ride. If only brains could be flushed.
Fortunately the weather mostly held, but there were a few brief showers, one of which had us bravely running for cover under a tree, ostensibly to take a snack-break.
Alarmingly, we all managed to stay upright despite the slippery conditions, apart from unlucky Jemma who toppled over sideways into deep mud after getting stuck in it. Aside from her soft landing, there were no accidents, mechanicals or punctures. Not a bad return for a 3hr ride.
Despite the conditions (the trails were at their bone-dry best for their last visit) it was a well-received ride and all went home happy, job done.
I went home intent on burning the Pub Bike Of Doom in some pagan ritual, but instead had Welsh Rarebit for lunch (only one kind of cheese in MY fridge, Will), caught up with the rugby and the Vuelta and promptly fell asleep, beer in hand.
Great way to spend a Sunday.