After last weekend, Saturday morning outside Rykas was a nasty reminder of the weather to come, with riders inside curled around cups of tea or huddled outside like penguins against the chill on the breeze.
Still, as they say, it's only inappropriate clothing, not bad weather, and the air was clear, the trails dry, so we set off up Juniper with a fair bit of vim. So much so, in fact, that by the top there was a mass stop to pack away extra layers before heading into the fast, off camber run through the woods to the bottom of High Ashurst. That climb also duly dispatched, we then moved onto the bumps of Headley Heath, after which I don't think anyone would have complained of the cold.
Walton on the Hill preceded a fast descent under the motorway and a climb to Smoker's Hill, which is now completely sanitised and largely a motorway in it's own right. Why they insist on destroying such beautiful countryside singletrack is beyond me, the world is a mad place.
With Bockets beckoning, we took off down Stane Street at a pace, flying down the last descent, and finding when we got there it was strangely now warm enough to sit outside. Plenty of conversation was going on, and an impromptu maintenance tutorial on one table, so it seemed a shame to move on, but move on we must, so up and down we went to Ranmore, with one of the downs supplying the photo above (the rest were terrible, sorry guys, no MBUK cover shots for you this week!). Phil got us in a group shot at the bottom, still in high spirits from the run.
The last slog to Ranmore Church had made the final descent all the more appealing, and with conkers to deal with on the first corner and subsequent ones getting steeper and more leafy, the grins at the bottom were testament to the fun had.
My thanks to Phil for backmarking brilliantly as usual as I tried to scatter 22 riders across much of the countryside. A good ride had by all I hope, here's to the weather staying dry.