Not having been out on a club ride in what feels like months and hearing of epic deeds along the South Downs Way by many in the club, I was a little concerned that everyone had been in training and would be ready to set off at a painful pace. Fortunately when I got there I saw Colin and Jason- normal service then, I could breathe easy....
Just enough rain to get out waterproofs on the ride over (for all of 5 minutes) was all we really saw all day, but the ground and was still damp enough to make things interesting. No point breaking people back in to low traction gently, the first descent after climbing Juniper was straight down Mintys, slippery as ever, but fortunately no casualties. Up and over Headley, round to Life on Mars and then left onto Stane Street. A descent not used in quite a while took us down to the A24 with a nice set of awkward steps for everyone to slither down.
Up Norbury Park, with a certain South Downs Treble finisher (who shall remain nameless for his own protection) attempting to take the easy route up by road before being peer pressured into going up the proper climb. Then on Infestation we had our titular casualty, with Greg taking the honour of 'first crash on the returned damp roots', but close enough to Bocketts to patch up with tea and cake. We had a good chance to catch up on the exploits of the South Downs 100 milers and had a demonstration of the determination required to complete it from 'Terminator' Fran who was walking around oblivious to the not-insignificant amount of blood running down her leg from arguing with the undergrowth.
Up towards Ranmore, with a few more tricky roots to navigate en route, then the final fun descent through Denbies. The sun by this time was too nice not to make the most of, with many hanging around to drink tea and talk bikes ad nauseum.
Not the longest of rides, but fun and good to see 20 people out braving the 'rain'. Si deserves thanks for keeping the tail end of a large group together!