Monday, 9 November 2015

Down South - Trail Riding around Hampshire and Salisbury...

Whilst setting up the Cumbria TRF Facebook page, I got a request to join from a fellow TRF member, Gareth, who lives in Hampshire, a little chat later resulted in an arranged rideout for the weekend. Lucy was working this weekend too, so its an all boys weekend!!

I arrived Friday night and parked up near Salisbury Racecourse in my van at 11pm to get my head down. At 1.30am I was woken up by the sound of an engine next to the van so I got up to find 2 police officers checking out the van, we had a chat, they realised I wasn't out to steal owt and left with a cheery 'sleep well'. Apparently there are loads of 'Coursers' out at that time of night... not sure what they are though!

Day 1:
Saturday morning dawned wet grey and miserable, Matt the run leader turned up first, then the rest over the next hour, with Gareth and his shiny KTM 2 stroker in the mix.

In the afternoon sunshine

We set off straight into a fast byway from the parking, I realised pretty quickly I was the slowest rider of the group, these boys were 'on it' from the word go! Ruts, mud, wet autumn leaves and chalk all set the tone for the trails for today.

I struggled, both with the pace and the terrain, it was all new to me and I felt a bit like a completely new rider again! It really made me a bit humble and also showed me how much further my riding skills can go if I'm prepared to put in the effort.

Not me this time, as I'd just picked my bike up!!


Shoot at it or ride on it...

Just a little bit of a hillside!

This was after the bike rolled on Matt's head!
The guys were great, all having a laugh in the play areas with a couple of them taking turns to look after me, make sure I took the right turns and helped pull me up some of the wet chalk slopes!!

A playground for tanks no less!

Thank you very much for the help and advice guys , it was really appreciated!

We were on the trails for the majority of the ride with very short tarmac sections, riding past venues like Stonehenge, which as a place, never ceases to amaze me, we played on the tank training grounds at the edges of Salisbury Plain and had fun on the local forest trails.

This area is a really great place to play and ride but it is also a bit unforgiving for beginners. I had a fab day out and the guys were really good fun, the day highlighted I have a lot of skills to learn to be able to ride these lanes well.

Gareth found this out as I took him out on a long wet chalk lane, too fast and you can't use the front brake was the lesson from that moment!!! Still at least it provided entertainment for the rest of the group, 3 of whom all had a similar experience before we reached the end of the lane.

To make the day better the sun started to shine as we did the last couple of hours, glorious!

Gareth and his wife very kindly let me stay with them that night, a hot shower, a great dinner and a beer rounded the day off brilliantly. Thanks very much guys...

Day 2:
The Sunday was all about the Hampshire lanes, most of which are like many other lanes around the UK, that is until you hit the chalk ones!

Beech forests litter this area providing a rich back drop of colour and adding an extra spice to the lanes as wet leaves sitting on either deep rutted mud or chalk do make an interesting combination. There are a lot of ruts too as there are a lot of 4x4's using these lanes. We actually rode past 3 lads, one of whom was axle deep in a huge puddle, looking slightly amused as he realised he had a job on his hands to get it out!

My first 'off' of the day was into a hedge because of getting cross rutted, I had so many again today that I actually gave up trying to keep track!! My poor old body is still feeling the effects as I write this with stiff shoulders, a sore thumb and a very sore foot that hasn't really had chance to recover from the break I did in Wales two weeks ago. Hey ho...

One of the lanes is called the 'Hill of Death', very ominous... Gareth breezed up it, me, err no... I sweated, got the bike over heated and in the end had to ask Gareth to ride it up for me, which he did very easily!!

However on Busset Hill, Gareth 'helped' me by launching my bike into the air as his finger slid off my overly stiff clutch lever and left tyre marks on the top section of a fence post... I couldn't stop laughing at his 'help'... Wish I'd have been filming it, it was epic to watch!

I managed to break the flimsy plastic handguards that came with this bike, so the right hand one flapped about for the rest of the day, but still did its job which is a good thing! The rest of the bike  took all the crashes and abuse with aplomb and although it'll take a good 2 hours to clean it properly it's looking a bit better since I showed it a jet wash this morning. (Nice new Bark Busters were bought from a local shop as I'm going to need them for France and Spain).

These 2 puddles are about 4ft deep!

Me in a bush again!

This whole weekend  has highlighted yet another couple of areas around the UK where the trail riding is just truly fabulous. Varied and challenging, with some great folk and some beautiful scenery.

This area is a bike only set of lanes, excellent

Another great bit of exploring and some more people met through the world of motorbikes.

Next up, some trail riding in France and Spain...