The turn out for the ride was great with 10 riders registering and making the drive from around the Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire area as well as a group of riders from the Epping Forest area. The weather had been horrendous all week before the ride & I was expecting a small turn out but was pleasantly surprised when almost everybody turned up! The group was really varied with some really experienced riders used to tearing up jumps and shredding singletrack – to a novice rider who’d only ridden off-road twice before! The route we had planned should keep everybody happy with a mix of surfaced trail that’s hard to ride quickly but not too technical in terms of wet roots or drops.
After a quick chat about the area and the trails we were going to ride we did a check over the bikes & waited for our last rider to turn up… 30 mins, 3 walks around the car park & seating area, 2 phone calls & 1 voice mail later we decided to head off without our last minute entrant. After all it was sunny and the trails were quiet!
We made our way gently towards the expert-mtb area wherein lies a real maze of swoopy single-track, fast descents & a couple of tricky climbs… The first we took pretty much runs to the middle of the forest – it’s a mostly-surfaced trail with some great, tight, berms, bomb holes and flat-out sections. It’s a bit of a workout as the height drop is minimal but to get the most from the trail we all pedaled our socks off, pumping into corners and over rollers to keep our speed!
Arriving at The Draincover (you’ll know it when you see it) we hit the fireroad to quickly get to the start of Seagulls; a fun section of surfaced trail – the week’s rain made all of the natural singletrack rather wet & not ideal to start on. Seagulls is another surfaced trail with more of a drop and some much tighter wooded sections; great fun! We followed this into Tank Traps before making our way to the Jump Gulley. We had a bit of a play around here laughing at each others’ (lack of) style and helping out those who weren’t necessarily as confident on jumps.
The next section we headed to is a steep, fast and loose descent from the reservoir down towards Labyrinth Trail & the other DH trails. It was good fun and everybody made it down with a massive grin on their faces. The DH trails were next which we did a couple of times before making our way round Labyrinth – another firm favourite with the club as well as the Swinley locals. It’s a long and compact trail that really keeps you thinking and the tight sections really keep you on your toes ducking and diving through the forest!
Then it rained. Oh and it rained soooooo much! We took this as our cue to grab a brew & we made our way back towards the café. By the time we got their the sun was back out and the skies were blue!!! Anyway, we had a bit of a chat – got some food down us and had a good old natter about life, the universe and everything. And tea.
Some of our group had to head back round the M25 for a birthday party so unfortunately this was the end of the ride for them – but those with no party food to eat kept on riding through the afternoon and made our way towards Corkscrew – recently re-surfaced it runs really quickly and has some nice techy corners and a few little step downs to mix things up. We also had a bit of a mess around in the bowl across from Corkscrew to practice drop-ins and steep roll-ins.
The skies darkened again and the wind started to pick up so we made the executive decision to go and have more tea!!!!
Many thanks to all who came to ride with us – I personally had a great time and enjoyed every minute of it! Can’t wait to do it again and hopefully see you all soon.
Also one of our riders filmed the entire ride so expect an edit online soon…..