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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Club trip to the Quantocks, May 2011

This is such a beautiful part of the country and seems to be a hidden gem - we only saw a couple of people in our first two days riding. It's closer than Afan and, after this weekend, I would say the Quantocks are better. This compact range of hills has a variety of landscapes and is covered with natural trails and single track; all of it lovely to ride through. The ridge at the top runs the length of the range and is exposed moorland that makes navigation very easy. The views from here are wonderful, gates and viewpoints are all named so all you need is a map. Just climb through lovely ancient woodland paths or following the streams up through the wooded combes and you'll reach the ridge. You can take any descent knowing that you'll soon find a trail going back up and from there you can find your way home when the time comes.

We had the pleasure of being guided round on Sunday by Geoff's mate John, who knows the hills well. Super fit and fearless, rather than wait for some of us to push our bikes up one 'big daddy' of an ascent he rode back down to do it again!  Favourite descent for me was definitely Hodder's Combe, which we did twice over the weekend. Super fast single track that criss-crosses the stream as it gradually descends all the way down to the car park. A little technical in parts to keep you focused and lots of splashy crossings, but you can belt along at full speed if you keep your wits about you. It's all wooded and truly gorgeous. Most notorious descent is Smith's Combe. We rode this on our first day and luckily Steve Cull had ridden it before and warned us about the dangerous section that suddenly springs out at you just when you've been lured into top speed. Take it easy, clear that, then it's a full speed single track blast all the way down.

Saturday was spent following an MBR route around Exmoor. I took us round the wrong way and it showed in places. There was a logic to this but the reality started with a couple of hard ascents followed by losing all that height on the road. The lesson there is look at the map very closely when you do something like that and not after a few pints and a curry in the restaurant. Highlights of the day were coming across a bomb hole and a really charming 12 year old boy who showed us some awesome jumps, and a long and very rocky exposed singletrack descent that was a real bumpy blast. So bumpy we had 3 punctures.

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