Autumn is my favourite time of year. Whilst we may not have had a summer, this Autumn has been trying to show itself for nearly a month and Sunday morning it really did hit the big time: chilly, plenty of mist, floods of dew and an orange sun rising with a promise. This is what mountain bike dreams are made of and all here in beautiful West Sussex!
It’s not November yet so arm warmers were defence enough from the chill. I had asked for rain last week and was not disappointed. The trails were still generally firm but wet. The difference from last week was that although they were slippery they were more predictable and I began to enjoy the bike feeling alive under me. My confidence is returning.
We rode to Houghton Forest (Whiteways) via Angmering Wood to enjoy the single track. This is a great trip as it combines some good trail riding with plenty sections perfect for building speed and endurance – useful for any rider but especially good for the mountain biker who also likes a road bike.
The ride started really fresh with mist and occasional shafts of really warm sun. I know the area well and did my best to avoid the dew but was heading for Wepham Down. This valley would be sodden. It was like riding through a carwash.
The route went northwest along Rewell Hill had the low sun casting shafts of gold across the trail as the rays passed through the morning mist. It was heavenly. The first leaves had fallen and, a suprise to me, they were mostly Rowan. The great thing about a carpet of leaves is that the roots are hidden. You can relax and enjoy. Often actually seeing the slippery and twisted routes has a negative effect on your confidence.
We had a three hour slot, 7 ‘til 10, one of the team had to be back for his daughter. I delivered him back on time, just.
Use it or lose it was my thought last week. Well I have used it and am getting it back. I still have a way to go before I can really say that I am comfortable going fast with the bike sliding all over the place. I’ll keep practicing so that I can get a bike handling master class from Darren (Strada Wheels) and his crew.
Bike: Scott Scale 900 SL(custom) shod with Scwalbe Racing Ralphs (30 front / 35 rear – bit hard for the wet)