Tuesday Ride III – John’s Revenge, aka: Mud, Sweat and Gears

myself, John, Rob about to ascend to the white horse above Westbury

The Tuesday ride this week was a Mountainbike special. John wanted to take Rob Bunce and myself around some local trails, so I headed out to Westbury at 1910 and got the wrong carpark as the meeting point. By the time I found John and Rob I was pretty knackered and a little hungry, having only eaten a banana and drank a cup of ultra-strong coffee. Needless to say, Rob guarded his Crunchie, the only food between us, with great care. John led us up through Westbury to where the road suddenly turned into a muddy off-road trail. In the woods we found something pretty cool. A whole bunch of kids had spent ages making an amazing series of jumps and half-pipes, a secret BMX course carved out of the forest floor, this was a serious investment of time. In fact there were two kids there, they proceeded to show us up by jumping and racing around us, we poor fogies were left slipping and sliding through the mud in their wake. Then John showed us a, quite frankly, brown-trouser inducing drop off, it was near vertical and for one terrifying moment I thought he was going to take us down it. Thankfully it was decreed to be too muddy, phew!

We spent a while sliding through the woods trying to locate the track, ditching the kids in the process (or maybe they ditched us, probably the latter). Rob and I thought we’d found the trail leading down the edge of a field, but it turned out to be blocked by barbed wire. We could hear John on the other side merrily cycling along so we struggled through the wire and brambles carrying our bikes to join our leader. The way was muddy, rocky, rutty and errr more muddy, very hard going though not for John. We joined up with the road that leads upward to the white horse, paused for a group photo (above), then picked our way through the oncoming stream of chavs in souped-up cars towards the white horse. If people only knew that cyclists can’t actually make out what people shout at us through their open windows I suspect they wouldn’t bother. Having said that it’s probably for the benefit of their passengers who, I assume, are equally imbecilic. Guffawing at the witty abuse hurled our way by the driver when all we can hear is:
Anyway we crawled up the hill, actually I really enjoyed that bit and kept freewheeling back to get a bit more climbing in, until we reached the point where the track divided and turned into gravel. The views by the old chalk quarry were fantastic. A low blanket of cloud had enveloped the sun as it began its descent, but there was still a clear strip of sky above Trowbridge and Westbury. Golden highlights danced over the cornfields as the wheat swayed slowly in the breeze. Despite, or maybe because of the climb we all felt in great spirits as we raced down the track towards Upton Scudamore. We were accosted by a pack of weird, very hairy terriers. As we saw them approaching in the distance Rob thought they were pigs, but the yapping and over-excited bouding betrayed them as mutts. Quickly we adopted loose formation, an arrow shape with John in front and Rob and I flanking, just to make it harder for them to pick us off. As it happened they were friendly and the owners, who eventually meandered over the horizon, were very apologetic for the yapping. By a very scary sign (Military Firing Range, KEEP OUT), John stopped to brief us on the downhill and drop-off he was about to take us down.

John shows the way to the drop off

I was feeling pretty nervous, especially as John had said “it’s not too bad and there is a point were you can bail out before the drop off”. John went first, alarming us with his speed of attack, and I followed. It started off easily although it was fast and I was quickly locked into a tractor rut. I was just wondering where the drop off actually was, when suddenly… sh*t! I was over the lip with no chance to stop. The cranks were level and I slid back off the saddle as the bars followed the front wheel into thin air. Panic lasted but a moment and I had the presence of mind to choose my line out of the drop, hoping the left hand rut was the correct one and that it wouldn’t collapse into a hole or something. John had already got up the other side of the hill and I cycled, then walked up to join him. Someone was laughing and it turned out to be me, elated by the rush of speed and the fact that I had done something that, if I’m honest, I was quite nervous about doing. We watched Rob pick his way down. He got off at the drop-off, but then got back on again to finish up on the lead-out, good man. Through the gate at the top of the field with Rob’s bike bell tinging happily on an overhanging branch, then we rode out along a hugely puddly, rubble strewn track. The lack of mudguards meant that my bum was soaked and freezing by the time we hit the road at Upton Scudamore.

Me with a soaked botty

The sunlight was dying into embers behind the horizon as we sped along the main road into Westbury, exchanging waves with a Roadie as he passed us on his way out. We said our goodbyes at a handy junction, Rob’s bell tinging into the distance behind me as I raised a clenched fist in solidarity, then turned for Dilton Marsh and home.

Published in: on June 26, 2007 at 11:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

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