Sunday 19th July bike ride......
Numbers somewhat depleted by hangovers, swine flu and any number of other excuses a lean, mean team of myself, Claire, Jeremy, Ann and Karl set out from an overcast Berko, destination the wilds of Surrey.
Karl's white van man cred worked better at clearing oncoming traffic on the Surrey lanes than my hot-hatch chav routine but we made it in good time. Or would have done if I hadn't spent hours mincing about the loading of the nearly new Orange and Claire's brand new Commencal into the van.
It had obviously tipped it down in Surrey but the clouds held off as we climbed … and climbed up the first ascent to the top of Pitch Hill. "Do you want the scary way or the less scary way?" I asked. "Less scary." was the consensus. Halfway down we scoped out some steep run-ins, Jeremy and Karl manfully slithering into the oblivion while the girls took, well, the girls' way down.
The ground was surprisingly not too boggy as we pressed on over to Winterfold Hill. Better still I managed not to get lost, which is a bonus considering I was the only one who had even half a clue as to where we were going. Tight, twisty and rooty it was certainly a change from Ashridge but all were going well.
Then came the rain, and a quickening of the pace with the promise of tea at the famous Peaslake Stores. Karl was in such a rush he ignored my warning of "it's a bit steep, rooty and slippery down here" and nearly impaled himself on a tree stump. Jeremy was laughing so hard he fell off too, Claire ignoring everyone's shouted advice to dismount and serenely carving her way through the fallen MTB Berkhamsted warriors, perhaps blinded by love for her new bike. Or at least the paintwork.
Damage control reported a bruised leg and very bent back wheel for the man Karl but he limped to the tea stop and refuelling commenced. We bumped into some nice Canadians too. "Where have you ridden from?" we asked. "Budapest. You?" We pointed at the car park 200 yards away and supped our tea.
Karl's bike up and running we slogged up the road to our date with trails with odd names like Barry Knows Best and Yoghurt Pots. Daft names, great fun to ride though. Enough that we went back for a second go. Claire was obviously getting the measure of her new bike, literally too fast for the camera, while Karl was heard to be whooping his way down the final trail of the day. Or maybe his leg was just hurting.
We will return. And in greater numbers…