Junior Ride Report 22/04/12 by Dan
What a difference the weather makes. The dry, fast trails we all enjoyed last time out are now
slow and sticky up the hills or slick with seemingly Teflon coated roots when trying to descend.
Despite heavy showers the week before and a poor forecast the morning was dry and a small
but keen group gathered at the Kona Café to see what the woods would hold for us. Following
much talk of the Time trials the coming week we hatched a plan to make the most of the
morning whilst leaving an easy break for base if and when the weather broke. I was to take the
keener, faster group and Alan was to take a more leisurely route.
Setting off up the hill behind the café the kids got going at quite a lick but soon fell over
each other whilst climbing over the roots resulting in a slow but definite fall into a bramble bush
for one. After a quick check over and brush down and we were away heading around Oakenhill
wood, up the old railway and on though to Mallards pike.
Following the Cycle path up to New Fancy we cut across then up to Boys Grave with
the boys storming ahead enjoying the flatter run along the ridge and looking forward to the
descent to the stone works. As expected the run down was very wet and slippery but a lot of
fun despite a few minor offs. Manualing the mud holes and bouncing off the trees we all made
it down in one piece and I was very impressed by the way the lads handled it and the speed
they attacked it at whilst maintaining control (just). The muddy faced smiles at the bottom said
Having regrouped snacks and drinks were deployed and we were soon heading off
again. They were all keen to do more of the same so we set off heading up the old Bixslade
tram road to gain some height. Whilst being of a reasonable gradient it is a relentless climb
with the old stone sleepers making you stay alert and upsetting your rhythm. Many older riders
find it a tough climb but the group dealt with it very well encouraged by my promises of a good
run from the top.
A quick hack across the flatter back lanes and tracks of Coalway allowed a degree of
recovery and took us across to Ellwood for the run down Doughy’s back to Parkend. The sky
was darkening and large drops of rain were starting to fall so we were glad to get out of the
open and under the trees again.
None of the group had been up here before and my talk of dropping seats and running
out to the main track if needed didn’t seem to put them off. Going on ahead slightly I could
make sure the trail was clear whilst everybody else got into pumping through the ditches
and hopping the roots. In the lower, more open section, a new double jump had been built
which I had to stop the kids going over. If not fully committed you’d run straight into the log
supporting the landing (everything else on the run could be rolled over if needed). A group of
older riders following us down also gave it a wide birth despite me getting well out their way.
This highlighted to all that even when you think you know a trail you still have to keep your wits
At the bottom tales of thrills and spills were exchanged before the final push back to the
start along the cycle path. Just five minutes later, around midday, we were rolling into the bike
racks back at the Kona Café ready to pile into the milkshakes coffee and cake.
Over about thirteen miles this morning we’d slogged through mud, climbed long hills, fallen into
brambles, tackled technical downhill and generally had as much fun as pigs in slop with smiles
all round at the end. Despite being tired the kids were already making plans for their next trip
out and seemed full of confidence for the upcoming junior time trials. I’m out now for a while
following knee surgery; it’ll be some time before I’m fit enough lead this group out again!
Alan had a slightly less challenging time riding out with his daughter but it sounds like they still
had an excellent ride encountering both a family of boar and some deer. Maybe the coating of
mud helped to disguise their approach a little?