Bloody wet to you and me. With some weather system effectively buggering up any chance of having dry trails until 2030 the stoic few of us in the midweek ride group met in the Forest of Dean to make the most of a bad situation. Our now regular ride haunt around Ross is currently falling foul of the Forestry Commission who are able to turn any piece of woodland quickly and efficiently into a landscape worthy of an end of the world or war film.
We set off with no real plan apart from try and stay upright and to gain as much feeling of smug as is possible for braving the conditions whilst our nesh mates sheltered in doors.
Heading up the man made trail from the Pedalabikeaway car park we were soon heading to a small piece of raised woodwork that was being put in as a trial. Whilst we all cleaned it without issue, Matt, who is probably the best rider in our extended group had multiple attempts. Any time he doesn't do something first time and better than anyone else is cause for much hilarity and woe betide him if he falls off. Whilst he circled around for yet another attempt I wasn't sure whether to take a photo, or, as H suggested crack out the easel and sketch him riding it.. I'd have had the time
Not a great picture, maybe I should have gone with a sketch..
I've not ridden the Verderers trail for about two years and I had a great time picking up the trail again, lots of berms and swooping through deepening puddles whilst the relentless rain pounded down on us. A strange evening though, wet but humid meaning getting the right level of clothing was tough.. Coat on, coat off..
Sitting at the back through a sweeping section of trail Jamer lost the front end after dipping slightly off trail, he hit a tree dead centre and superman'd it over the bars.. No harm done but he took no time in extolling the virtues of his knee pads to me.
Hitting a well known trail I couldn't believe the sheer amount of standing water and thick mud which lay in front of us, it wasn't recognisable since my last trip down it and if one thing was certain is was that no records were going to be broken as we each (with the possible exception of Matt who had regained his crown as trail maestro) struggled to stay upright and pointing down the trail.
It was here that two things happened, firstly I lost the front end in mud and went over and secondly, I became aware that my cleat had become loose, luckily I fell to the side which I could still unclip from, but the tumble jarred my other knee painfully. Finishing the trail somewhat more carefully than seconds earlier my mates rallied round and in increasingly heavy rain rearranged my cleat for me.. No lost bolt thankfully but something I need to sort out at home and in the dry.
With the rain now so heavy that our headlights made each raindrop look 6 inches long we headed for a final descent and the sanctuary of the cars.
The descent in question contained a section of trail I've never cleared before, in thick mud and pouring rain I managed it, getting to the bottom I had an enormous sense of achievement.
Last climb and drop and we were back at the carpark, but not before the final problem of the night made itself known.. My forks had completely seized, something was up and it's the sort of something which needs the bike to be dropped off at Revolutions to sort.. and only 4 weeks until the new one turns up...