On the fifth of Jan, Nigel Gregson led a Novice Friendly ride from Barbury castle. Here’s his ride report:
“This was my first outing on the bike of 2013 and was billed as a novice friendly ride, if it wasn’t before it was certainly going to be now after the over indulging at Christmas!! This was the same route that I led for my first ride back in the summer although it was going to be harder going due to all the rain.
“I’m always surprised and grateful by the number of people who turn up when I lead a ride, usually because most people have a better level of fitness than me (and probably a better local knowledge).
“In total there were fourteen of us as we set off from the car park (on time) down the road and up along the top of the shooting school. The going was very wet, but not as wet as it was the previous weekend when we tried to “recce” the route. Through the gate at the end of the field and down the short twisty track. Once at the bottom we had to negotiate the very rutted muddy track until we got on to the hard track which wasn’t as flooded as the week before.
“At the end of the lane we turned right for approx 50m and then I had to confront my nemesis, the steep, steep tarmac climb. At this point I told everyone to wait at the top for me. Whilst pushing up the hill I vowed to myself the saying “oh go on then, one more won’t hurt” will never pass my lips again because it clearly wasn’t true.
“Once at the top and lungs sort of recovered we carried on, turning left at the crossing and climbing up onto the Lambourne Downs, riding along the edges of fields which had absorbed most of the week’s rain and were currently absorbing the energy from my legs. We regrouped again at the gate way (thanks again for waiting) and then down the gravel descent to meet the Lambourne road.
“We continued on our merry way along the road until we reached the track that went up to Sugar Hill Woods. At the top we stopped for a quick snack before continuing towards the nice descent into Aldbourne. At the top, I advised people to be careful of the descent down into the village as it could have been washed away by the rain, only to be proved wrong once we had reached the bottom , DOH! Oh well better to be safe than sorry.
“We tootled down into the village to be met by a mirage, well a burger van actually that does most types of fast food, but on a cold damp day it was a welcome sight with hot drinks too. This works out well for a Saturday ride from Barbury castle as it’s exactly half way round (10.5 miles) and the van is there till lunch time. Apparently we ate him out of rolls, as he doesn’t normally have this many customers on a Saturday morning. I have made a note of the phone number in case we go that way again, I will pre warn him. Forward thinking so no-one has to go without. It’s not just a Mountain bike ride, it’s an MB Swindon organised ride!
“Fed and watered we carried on as it looked like rain, once we had carefully passed the leaking man hole spewing out sewage onto the road, we started the steady climb out of the village. At the top of the hill, the road bears left, but we carried straight on and joined the route used by the prospect ride. A swift descent down the lane to meet a large slurry like puddle- lovely, but isn’t that why we ride bikes? It was nice to see Gary P get to the bottom unscathed! The last time we rode this route, he felt the need to throw himself off his bike half way down. We carried on up the hill and regrouped by a farm entrance.
“This attracted the interest of a horse in the field, at this point a debate started as to his name, the two options being (Mr) Edd or Gavin(?). Either way he seemed to get on rather well with Kristian, but I’m not sure if they are going to stay in touch. We bid farewell to Edd/Gavin and carry on as time is ticking. We bear right and past the cabbage field and on to Rickety Bridge. This was in good shape after the recent weather, and as rooty as ever. After an uneventful descent, we crossed the road through Ogbourne Maisey and up towards the gallops. At the top we turned right up past Four Mile Clump before returning to the car park.
“All in all an enjoyable first ride of the year, no break downs, no accidents and no rain. A big thanks to the people who turned out especially the other ride leaders who were happy to potter along at my pace. It’s just nice to get out on the bike!”