From Dirt Issue 109 - March 2011
You may, and hopefully fondly, remember trails roadtrip articles I’ve done from previous years. Our yearly excursions have become something of an institution for a select group of riders, to the point where around springtime I always get the phone calls and Facebook messages asking me what the plans this year are. At that point I never have the slightest clue, but so far it has always turned out to be a pretty sweet week. This time around someone must have been smashing some mirrors with black cats tied to ladders, as things didn’t go anywhere near as smoothly…
Unfortunately there’s one thing you can’t plan for, the weather. In the weeks, months even, we’d had leading up to the date of the trip it had been perfect, warm and dry pretty much every day. As luck would have it though, that all changed the very day we were due to make a start. The plan had been to all meet up at the final round of the King of Dirt series at Wisley and head off from there, making our way up north and then back down, over the course of a week, give or take a few days. However that evening the heavens opened and it barely stopped for the next week. What should have been a couple of hours a day in the van DMR had kindly lent us, followed by a good session and then camping for the night turned into a daily struggle to locate somewhere that might be dry to ride, trudging round a sodden trail spot before realising we were clutching at straws that simply weren’t there. This was usually followed by cracking a tin and topping up the constant low–level drunkenness that seemed to dull the noise of the rain hammering on the van roof somewhat. Ollie (Wilkins), being the driver, and also somewhat more of an athlete than the rest of us, didn’t really approve of this and they became known as the ‘pointless beers’, that just made it all the more amusing though.
We did even manage to get some riding in, as you can see from the photos. BMX tracks were a bit of a saviour, being unaffected by the weather for the most part, as long as you didn’t mind riding through a few puddles. As always it was a treat to watch Ollie shred the shit out of Gosport and Nuneaton. Trails riders aren’t well known for their high levels of fitness when it comes to pedalling flat–out round a track, and it really showed, but everyone gave it a good bash and found tech sections to session. There was even talk of going back for a ride over winter. A few of the trail spots we had planned to visit did turn out to be rideable, at least to some extent. After a lot of spadework we managed to get one line riding at Wisley and had a slippery but enjoyable ride. We also managed to hit up a few other nearby spots, Dom and Johnny’s local for one, which just about rode, thanks to the lighting of some small fires on the dirt to dry out wet patches. A set of trails made from the sandiest soil imaginable also played host to our fun and games, and although the jumps were small it meant that we were able to coax Timmy into his first flip in a long time, and allowed Dylan to break out some of his signature limb variations. Saran wrap anyone?
We even hit up an indoor park. Don’t judge just yet, it was an invite only one built in a disused railway tunnel, so not your run–of–the–mill–overrun–with–park–rats situation. No one on the trip really rides much park, but Johnny stepped up to the plate and put all that time spent nibbling away down Crawley to good use. Jimmy, freshly recovered from ACL surgery, pumped about like only he can and rode the hips and quarters like they were made of dirt.
So, the riding wasn’t amazing due to the weather, we spent what felt like forever driving about only to be disappointed at the end of the journey, and everyone spent most of the time either wet or trying not to be wet. Was this a waste of time? Hell no! These trips are all about the experience, and whatever the situation you will take something away from it. For me this time round it was a love of a simpleton’s card game and the discovery of a way to describe those beers that occur just because it seems the right thing to do at the time. For everyone else it may have been different, but this outcome suits me just fine. Beats being at work for a week anyway. Pointless beer time!