Riders: Lynda, Dave, Simon, Simeon, Steve F & Tom
After a bit of a frosty start first thing, a blue bird sky and a light warm breeze was the order on meeting at the Burrator quarry car park – this is October right? Both Windy and John were not around, so Lynda and Dave had stepped in to lead the ride at the last minute. Steve and Sim were both a bit hazy from a few jars the night before (and been due to be in work), so the only solution was a good blast to sweat it out.
With pretty much perfect riding conditions and everyone happy to step up from the usual casual ride we set off for Norsworthy Bridge and the technical track up past Crazy Well Pool to Nun’s Cross. Lynda’s leg was heavily strapped and fresh out of physio, but the roadie fitness showed through and we set off a pleasant pace…just right to clear Sim and Steve’s heads. The persistence of Simon to keep his jacket on was also questioned, when the truth came out; it had been a birthday present from his girlfriend and he was showing his appreciation by giving it some good use, though he appeared to be perspiring less than most of us in short sleeves as testament to his fitness.
Once on the ascent, the pace slowed a bit and the fun really started, especially with Lynda’s pep talk that as the only girl present there was no shame in pushing some sections and she wouldn’t tell anyone – challenge set! The reality was it turned out everyone seemed to find it much easier than it looked and there were very few feet put down let alone pushing. All looking good then 50 metres from the top; snap – Sim’s rear derailleur was off from his Stumpy…
Any thoughts of trying to fudge it with a hanger for a Cube bike were dashed as it was the fixing point on the derailleur itself that had gone, so after a short faff and discussion Sim was on a single speed! From the top we spun on towards Princetown, with Sim’s modified drive chain jumping across the cassette like a gazelle until it was settled into the highest gear ratio – not ideal for the undulating trail ahead.
Sim powered on when most would have given up with Dave doing a sterling job of providing some extra assistance on the assents and we were soon in Princetown and a stop at the Foxtor Cafe (yes that’s right; the MTB’ers stopping somewhere civilized!) In fact this was perfect timing as we had beaten the roadies there by 10 minutes, so there was no queue and Sim’s missus was passing by that way, so he called it a day and got lift back to work…sure they never noticed.
After some banter with the roadies we left them to their cakes and back along the track towards Sheepstor, with Steve peeling off to take the descent back the way we have come up earlier with some excuse about needing to do some stuff around the house (and nothing to do with the thought of a fast 3 mile downhill blast back down to Burrator!)
The rest of us pushed on and bounced down the almost equally fun decent to Scout Hut – a real arm rattler, then along the road to Sheepstor and around the bottom on the single track back towards Norsworthy where I managed to snag a pedal and perform a slow motion roll across the offending rock. This incited first concern and then praise for the elegance of the dismount, with a suggestion of even showing off…
From Norsworthy Lynda and Dave made the excellent call to peel off and take the single track along the banks of the reservoir that had recently been cleared of trees and end up coming out at the Lodge. This included some lovely rolling sections (see pictures from Lynda) to really put a smile on everyone’s face.
From the Lodge, the road section back was avoided and a short spurt up the trails to get to the open moor above the old dismantled railway was rewarded by the gentle descent back into the quarry car park. Definitely what you’d call a real fun ride. Thanks to Dave and Lynda for stepping in and leading what turned out to be a real gem. (Sorry Sim!)
Ride time: 3.5 hours (ish). Distance: Who cares. Fun rating: 5/5