Sunday, 11 January 2009

Minus seven at Swinley

I had an interesting day yesterday.

I went on a group ride at Swinley Forrest that I spotted being arranged on the Singletrack Forum.

This was the equivalent of a cycling flash mob - and due to the temperature I thought nobody would turn up. Long story short about fifty people met up in the car park - and we split into five ability groups.

I backed myself and joined the fast group (only four riders) - and as three of us were on singlespeeds I thought the pace would be manageable. I did manage to keep pace but I faded a bit near the end. But being guided around the forest was a first - and although we rode some trails I knew (sometimes back to front to the way I normally ride them) I was taken to some new spots, which if I can remember how to get to them, will be fun to ride when the weather gets warmer.

There were two strange things about the ride.

Firstly - people who live in forums have aliases,so half the chat and social side of the ride was people introducing themselves twice - 'I am blah my forum name is blah blah'. Or 'do you know who blah blah is? I think his / her real name is blah'.

Secondly - my route map is made up of route names made up by the people I used to ride Swinley with (when I was at university in the early 90's in Reading) or that are named by me so I can remind Hayden or Kelly of the trail. It has often be the form of people I have ridden with to name a trail after an event or a landmark on the trail. Ergo at Swinley a trail we ride as Tom Sellick (so called because we saw a guy on a bike who looked like said actor) was introduced yesterday as Alpine and a trail everyone called Labyrinth we call something rather rude after an incident Jude and I had with an unpleasant man in a hurry. I think there was some confusion across all the groups caused by names, features and directions. But that's the fun of such an event.

The two new routes I rode were called Tank Traps and Seagull - and I also learnt a great way to get across to the corkscrew by some new sections of singletrack.

Interestingly we hardly rode any of the technical sections out near Cesar's camp - or any of the 10k circuit we normally start with.

The other thing yesterday was the weather. When we started at 10.30 it was -7 and when we came back in at 1.15 it was -4. The water in my camelback froze - all my sweat (when I got one up) froze on my buff / helmet and my fingers and toes went totally numb.

But it was fantastic. Crisp and clear. It briefly snowed a couple of times. The ground was frozen solid. Some routes were like rippled concrete - others skate park smooth. All good. Very good.

The link below is to the forum post that led me to Swinley on the coldest day in the southeast for a decade.

It worked out - so I am thinking I might now search about to see if there are other opportunities to 'mobcycle' in the near future in spots I think I know. A new perspective is a good thing. It freshens things up.

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