Saturday Off Road Ride 24th OctoberPhillBrown
I only go out with the Saturday rides when they go off road, and that hasn’t been a great deal in the past due to other racing/training plans. However, as I’m not now racing due to my heart issues, I decided to join in with Barry’s ride this weekend. It also helped that the route allowed for me to do the last 14km first, to get to the start.
Grim weather was forecast for later in the day, but ended up arriving a bit earlier than expected. However, the first hour or so was fine, some commenting after a few miles that they had over-dressed. The wind wasn’t too much of a factor in the forest, and the direction chosen to do the circuit was probably best given the direction that it was blowing in. Barry had created a more CX/Gravel bike friendly route by adding in some minor road sections, but the route was fine for those with an MTB. Nine riders turned up at the start, so Barry split us into a group of 5 and one of four, Purely to satisfy COVID protocols and there was no decision on fast/slow groups or bike choice, in the interests of us all just getting a good ride in the forest.
The groups set off a minute or so apart , and would probably have remained that way if Barry hadn’t got a puncture at a ford after 20k. Interestingly the second group caught us and Phil Jones also punctured. Unfortunately bike mechanic speed and skills were not put to the test, as Barry had difficulty with removing his tyre, then when we were about to set off after it was fixed, discovered that his front was also punctured; the second group were away!
Barry found that his valve stem nut was seized, so after 10 minutes advised us to press on without him. He eventually got rescued by car (by his wife I think) and fortunately with a cafe near by didn’t get too cold. We rode on for another 10k and came across the other group, Phil Jones seemingly having to rebuild his rear mech. We didn’t stop to check for long, but they seemed OK (apparently he had a whole spare bike in his backpack!), though by now the rain had set in.
The rest of the ride became a battle against wind and rain, the music of gravel in disc brakes squeaking from the four of us. Fortunately no further mechanical incidents, and everyone enjoyed the ride. Barry had planned a stop in Burley but we all decided that being so wet there was no point so we pressed on for home. I’d ridden the last leg from Brownhills already, so left the other three to return to Brockenhurst, hopefully without further incident.
I’ve considered purely off road group rides before as I do so much (mainly MTB) now. Maybe something to organise for next year, small groups seem to be the way forward (lowers the likely incidence of delay due to punctures), perhaps with a separate novices group.