This feels like the culmination of several weeks’ work and it’s always good to get to the end of a project and have another good loop to ride in the future.
Having done all of this I realised I’d already got a pretty good winter ride in the books already, and so I went and rode that one as well. This one is the classic loop with a couple of bits that could get muddy but somehow never get too bad. Having abandoned it for a while with my Northern exploration I hadn’t experienced the work that’s going on here. First-up the overgrown riverside run has been cleared and opened up, which changes the feel of the track, but offers some less muddy options.
More dramatically a bridleway, and indeed a whole road, was closed by bridge repair. Large work equipment including huge cranes very effectively shut off the way through. I diverted along a footpath I’d discovered in the past. Carefully walking it to stay on the moral high ground (and manhandling the bike over the gates) I made it to the road and then down a track decorated by a Ford Fiesta lying in a ditch to join up with the usual trails.
So, having just found two solid winter options the weather decided I had achieved enough for that season and threw in a day off work that was definitely, suddenly Spring. The temperature on the dashboard was pushing over 16 degrees and the sun was streaming when I turned into the carpark at Swinley. Rolling out on a decidedly soft rear shock (I’d left the shock pump at home) I was in short sleeves again and excited to be carving into damp, grippy berms with tyres buzzing on the hard-packed surface. It could have almost been summer as I hit the tank trap section and then carried on round the 20 km of trails. Here, as well, there had been work, a couple of new drop-offs and berms had quietly arrived, perhaps to keep the red-graded trail status in place.
The soft shock meant grippy downhill runs but a slightly worrying thump as I dropped off the biggest features, but there’s a point where you just ride what you have and that’s the important bit of being out on the bike, not that everything runs right all the time.
Just maybe Spring is here to stay and the riding will only get dustier and better from here on out, but perhaps there’s a last sting in the Winter and it’s not the end of the cold and mud.