The route today started at Cowlease sculpture park which sits at about 1000' and the first part of the ride or job of the day is to immediately plummet off the top, down what seems like never ending double track and into the the Getty mansion grounds. When you get to the bottom you find yourself in XC heaven, blue skies full of Red Kites, swooping dusty trails, hills all about and the dust hasn't even settled from your high speed descent.
You just have time to catch your breath before the second hill or job of the day, that is to climb the near 1000' all over again. First though is a short sweet single/double track flat trail past 'Vicar of Dibly puddle' yes the actual hole.
|Move it French...rider coming through|
We're now out on the downs and the sun is beating down on us, the trail is as open as it gets here, and the sun cream I put on at the start has long been supplemented with a thick layer of dust. Not sure if this has a SPF of any kind? We wave to the Alpacas and head onto the Swans Way part of the Ridgeway long distance path. The path has been forcibly closed to 4X4's now. In the past the way had been destroyed by 4X4's unable to police themselves and wrecking the way for every other user by using it when at it's wettest. It took mechanical intervention to rebuild this ancient way, and now for us it was a pleasure to use again. We're on the home straight now. As we ride in and out of woodland I catch glimpses of our final climb to the finish. The Ridgeway is in great condition, which is good because the finish is a another 1000' climb and no one want's tired legs leading up to that. In the past the trail in the picture above has been axle deep in mud, and on one occasion I've seen Nick disappear through ice! but today its all good.
We arrive at the base of the climb and set off to the top one by one. It's hot and it's going to be slow going and with the rides finish at the top I decide to ride helmetless, something I've not done in several decades, but I consider it safe. The only danger I could for see would be another mountain biker hooning down towards me. I twiddle the hill, which seems to have been a little sanitized the going is easier than I remembered. I recall when it was once full of gullies and you had to bunny hop from side to side to reach the top, we also used to climb it singlespeed.
|I remember this when it was r'eet ard|
The climb is done and we're back, that went quick and was one of the best days riding I've had in a long time. On the way back home I wonder if I have my priorities right, in a few days I'll be back training, then I'll be racing. Arghh this is hard, a proper 'Catch 22' without the training and racing would rides like these be so pleasurable? Part of me wants to race and part of me want's to sell up, buy a Mercian and just ride. I decide not to make any rash decisions. We get back to Nicks place and lounge in the garden with the Tour on the mac. Somehow I think a Lottery win is in order.
I'd just like to say that I've shamelessly pinched the title of this post from Russ Pinder who posted this great little route on Singletrackworld many years ago. Tragically Russ was paralysed in a mountain biking accident shortly afterwards. Thank you Russ for this classic.