Words by Tom Scott
It was meant to rain! I had been out the previous night doing voluntary work finding homes for countless needy pints of beer, so I decided to drive to Foxhill for the start rather than riding from home.
I arrived to see 14 mountain bikers all togged up and ready for the off. I passed round the ride sheet and tentatively got my trusty Kona (recently rebuilt but not yet test ridden) off the roof, and off we set.
At the very top of the first climb I realised I had left my wallet on the roof of my car, so I advised the group to carry on at a slow pace whilst I went back down the hill, got my wallet and then rode back up to reclaim my position at the front.
The weather was ok, side wind was quite spectacular at times, and we arrived at the White Horse car park for the start of the Novice Friendly ride. Steve was there with his 29er, as well as Phil and two mates from Abingdon way who claimed to have ridden down (it turns out they’d got a lift!). Leaving the car park I suffered a temporary lack of grip and nearly took Jim out!
So now we were 19, and we set up off up White Horse hill, with varying levels of huffing and puffing. After a couple of miles we stopped at a road crossing to wait for the back marker. We waited a bit more followed by a long period of waiting. Banjo went back to have a look and didn’t come back. One of the three Richards went back, came back again, couldn’t see anything… Turns out that our old favourite issue had reared it’s ugly head i.e. Tubeless tyre going down!
Sean, bless him, had tried to blow it up a few times but it didn’t work. His spare tube was no good, but eventually the spare spare tube was fitted and we lost about 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, the newbie and Debs had decided to return to Foxhill, and I had sent Graeme on as leader at a steady (yeah, right) pace to the cafe, whilst I went back, by which time, inevitably, Sean and Mark were coming round the bend with the forgotten Banjo.
I then rode like the wind back to the group to let them know, then waited again for the tube changers. We got to the cafe at Wantage and all had food and drink and made merry.
The three reprobates from Abingdon carried on their ride home and we set off back following a short cut which added about a mile on. I had a minor off on the way back which most people found hilarious. The rain held off and everyone agreed it had been a good ride.