Words by Tim Norris Photos by Tim Norris and Sarah Bailey
I was nearly late for the start of my own ride – the result of having an extra biscuit with my tea and slightly underestimating how long it would take me to ride to the start However, when I arrived everyone else seemed to have carried on with pre-ride preparation with some belief that I was going to turn up.
Soon after 10am the 10 of us set off up through Knoll Down woods (the site of a few fun moments on previous rides) and made our way along a part of the Wessex Ridgeway which runs parallel to the A4 towards Calne. The group expected to climb the usual track up towards the Monument but I had other plans.
Concentration and balance was required as we navigated our way through a rarely passable bridleway, usually dominated by mud and puddles. The track was unusually dry save for a few extra deep puddles and just a few deep ruts. This section of the ride was probably the most technical and only half an hour or so into the ride many of us were already exhausted; as the adrenalin and concentration drained us while we tried to navigate the track.
The White Horse Trail was our guide past Cherhill and towards Morgan’s Hill, where most of us pushed at least part of the way up the next climb, to be rewarded with a little bit of single track fun traversing the hillside.
When we reached the bomb hole at Furze Knoll, I was very disappointed to find a small group of people right in the centre of the bomb hole with a camp fire. We stopped and stared for a little while reminiscing the last time we came to this location, before I lead us off on a short bit of single track and then down the farm track to cross the road and head towards Olivers Castle.
On the way to the Roundway one of the group decided he would hop over a fence as the rest of us nogotiated with a small gate. This looked a lot easier until we heard an exclamation coming from Mark who had just realised the fence was indeed of the electric variety!
We stopped on the Roundway for a brief photo session and terrible history lesson from yours truly and then headed off to make our return journey.
Winding our way back along more bridleway and cycle tracks we eventually climbed the rear of Cherhill and enjoyed a slightly sketchy high speed descent back towards the A4. We crossed and had a short pedal through Yatesbury, past the clay shoot and back to Furze Knoll.
My estimation of a 350-400m climb was out by around 100m and combined with the 30km distance of constant pedalling the ride came to a natural end and I was pleased everyone had enjoyed it.
This was my first ride leading responsibility of 2015 and it reminded me why I signed up as a ride leader and also why I enjoy riding around Cherhill and the Roundway.
Thanks to the riders that put their trust in me and joined me for a great ride.
Read more from Tim on his timfromwales blog.