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MOUNTAIN BIKE CLUB

The Southdowns Mountain bike club had been given a small number of entries kindly donated by Wiggle that were, in spite of a grim looking weather forecast, eagerly filled. Some of us had never ridden an off road Wiggle ride before, we had heard that these popular events were well organised - we were not disappointed.



mud


Despite the conditions and odd shower, all the riders we met were very friendly and in good spirits - even those standing on the side with upturned bikes and inner tubes in hand - a friendly wave as you sail by with the empty words' need a hand' always helps !      

The end of the route came back into the racecourse after a testing thirty one miles not excessive but certainly plenty given the conditions. The toilet/changing facilities were most welcome as this provided somewhere warm and dry to change for the journey home.



smiles crud

The course was very well signposted and adequately marshalled. A thoroughly enjoyable day was had by all, despite the 'not-so perfect' conditions, but that's all part and parcel of mountain biking and why we do it. Without a shadow of doubt, we would certainly ride it again, it would be interesting to ride in dry conditions to see how it compares. Without hesitation, we would highly recommend Wiggle events.


Gary, Terry, Phil, Dave & Steve  - Southdowns Mountain bike Club   


miles

The event was based at the Salisbury racecourse which offered plenty of parking complete with toilet/changing facilities and a welcome greeting from smiling Wiggle staff.


After a short safety briefing it was off in to the Wiltshire countryside in staged starting groups of fifty riders, avoiding any 'massing' problems and ensure that each group had room to breath - sensible planning that worked seamlessly. We decided to ride around as a group on the thirty one mile Epic Route and to enjoy the day together - a very wise decision in retrospect given the rather wet and muddy conditions born from the previous days torrential rain our friendly banter kept spirits high .

Having set off in a brief shower, it soon became apparent that the previous nights rain had caused extremely muddy and slippery trail conditions, however with a steady attuned approach it was even possible to remain upright on the bike!


The first half of the route itself headed in a westerly direction shared by the the standard route, eventually heading out on a big loop back in an easterly direction which contained most of the steepest ascents, in total taking in over 2,100 feet of climbing. The route then eventually tracked around and re-joined the standard route again. Given the wet and claggy conditions it was impossible to ride all the ascents, by the same token it also required a great deal of care on the descents, brakes proving all but ineffective compounded by having our steeds transformed into fat bikes through the sheer volume of collected mud! 


The beauty of a well organised “off road” event is exactly what it says on the tin - and this ride only touched tarmac only to peel off to the two very welcoming feed stations providing a wide selection of refreshments that any tired and famished cyclist might need; energy drinks, energy bars, coffee, hot chocolate, jelly beans, gels and the ubiquitous flap jack, that no refreshment stop should be without. Our only regret was not bringing extra pockets to stash the food! With some very big climbs ahead we snapped out of the “carbo overload” to forge on, perhaps taken on board more than we should have done.


Quite a few muddy lanes and single tracks lay ahead with plenty of deep water filled potholes that couldn't be avoided - once you are completely muddy and wet, you abandon any hope of getting dry again, so we ploughed on merrily, enjoying each others skating prowess (or not) over the mud. Some of the trenches were worthy of SCUBA gear requiring us to circumnavigate the boggy chasms for fear of drowning! Unfortunately, one of the drawbacks of having to look ahead to plan your path mean you miss the view of the surrounding rolling hills , which was a shame. Given a better day we would have had chance to admire the scenery  on offer - lets hope for better weather next time.