the "well that was slightly dangerous" ride

foggy, slippy, muddy, wet, sunny and warm. all the ingredients for a top ride and they were all in evidence today. we decided to take the road route up to Clent to avoid the worst of the lowland mud which would have added hours to the ride. although easier to roll on the route is in no way flat, total climbing today was 2134ft due to us climbing and descending a lot on the way there and we topped out at 1002ft. no match for some parts of the UK but the highest we have in the NW Alps. after a coffee and eccles cake treat at the cafe i showed Ian the cheeky twisty muddy route through the trees to the rib ripping steps of doom (so called because these steps and lack of talent damaged my intercostals some weeks ago) the big drop was a bit touch and go, both of us locked up both front and rear wheels at one point, heading slightly out of control towards a bank of trees. thankfully the tyres dug in and we got away with it and proceeded with a few relieved giggles to the steps. I’ll admit i’m no riding God and i walked down, Ian showed the way though and cleaned them with ease. I’ll be back when it’s a bit drier to conquer them myself. we then just followed our noses and general sense of direction and found another trail that headed downward. well we’re not going to waste a chance to descend and it looked like it headed the right way. We followed it uphill, got our bearings to see where it started, turned and began the descent. what a cracker it was! Ian had said there looked like there was a few braking areas but that wasn’t quite true, it was fast and wet, so some caution needed to be taken, then we hit the series of step drops, it was a case of “oh sod it” and letting the brakes off, lifting the front wheel, leaning back and letting the bike do its stuff, great fun! i was feathering the rear brake to scrub some speed when we rounded a corner and came across a wooden bridge (actually two planks across a stream) i can categorically say that there is absolutely no grip on slick wet wood, it was scary when the rear wheel locked and started to slide out! with the tangle of brambles looming at speed at the side of the trail the bridge ran out, the wheels somehow found some grip, a bit of opposite steering and off the brakes and i was away towards the next drop. in the distance i heard Ian shout “keep right” and i did what i was told as i went over a drop and found the trail took a sharp right turn, keeping right meant i avoided going head first into the barbed wire topped fence and the potential drop into the valley. there was no time to reflect on this as i passed a metal sign proclaiming “Men at Work”. thank goodness they weren’t working today as i swear i couldn’t have stopped in time and i flew over what can only be described as a road gap (ok, maybe a “path gap”), a few more off camber steps, this time covered in thick mud and on to the end. as we rolled away and back on tarmac Ian said ” that was slightly dangerous”¬† spot on but so much fun!, it’d be wild in dry conditions.
the rest of the ride was uneventful apart from Ian’s find of a brand new cafe, in Belbroughton Post office. They welcome muddy cyclists “the seats are wipe clean, just for you” and i can recommend the coffee.
Top ride and worth all the climbing in the end. we’ve worked out a cool route to add both trails in a loop for our next visit.
ride 178
26 miles
total 3246
commute 877

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