August Mud Fun on Exmoor
For those who like riding on knobbly tyres you need to add a date to your diary “The Exmoor Explorer”. This is an all day mountain bike event for about 500 riders every first week in August. The organisers plan a new route over Exmoor each year and for your modest entry fee of £25 you get free camping for two night’s access to a pasta party, goodie bag and on course the famous tea stop with cakes galore and freshly brewed tea (see us MTBers are civilised).
Sam and I went up in sunny weather to pitch our tent on Saturday night…slight cock up by me I had forgotten the pegs so we improvised with sticks…..after we had used the local trees I managed to find the proper pegs and we pitched the tent properly. To make up for my error I treated Sam to beer and steak in the pub and during the meal the heavens opened and basically continued too right through the night and into the next day. This was not in my plan as for those who don’t know I had been out of action for over a month after I partially tore my little finger off in Morzine with the YOGis and was hoping for dusty trails!
I have to admit it took a lot of soul-searching to get up and out whilst I was laying comfortable in my sleeping bag. But like all MTB rides once you get out on the trail the fact you are riding in lumpy gravy fades away. The nice organisers this year made sure we reached the highest point of Exmoor straight from the start but this at least gave us all a stunning descent. After my spill in the Alps I decided not to go mad and this was just as well as people were falling off all around me. If they weren’t falling they were getting caught by the rocky paths and suffering the dreaded pinch puncture.
Despite the weather and early carnage people were in high spirits and it was good to be out in the dirt again. The riding in Exmoor is first class and the organisers never disappoint in their ability to find new single track to enjoy this year. My favourite section was a lovely flowing dirt track above Porlock that eventually went into the trees and into some fine single track. At the tea stop you can choose to add another 10 mile loop on or return to the start. This year I took the short option which I was pleased with as the hills thrown in on the 10 mile return were monsters and the weather turned foul again. After a couple more hours of mud fun I made it across the finishing line chuffed that I had enjoyed the challenge and pleased that I didn’t have to apologise to my physio for busting my finger again.