So, did 'The all New and improved' Swinley last night. Which was....well both good and bad.
It's good to see a group putting resources into building sustainable trails. Gone is the 5 meter wide trail of sand and damp bits and in its place is an all weather trail that will stand up to the volume of traffic that a trail center close to a London will get. They've put a huge amount of effort into building two decent trails that make use of some of the old with some new stuff. Its fast, challenging in places and pretty good fun. I do wonder about the placing of some of the jumps, one of the big BMX/4X type bits has a few kickers with no landings and some of the doubles are a bit ambitious but on the whole, its been well built and is a good addition.
However, I also think some of the charm of the place has been lost. I had quite a good loop of about 10 miles that joined all types of trail together that was both technical but still a challenge from a fitness perspective. I can't do this any more, a lot of the routes have either gone or been made one way. I understand why this has happened and I know that, my selfish needs aside what they've done is a GOOD THING. Its just not (for me) quite as good as it was. However, I'm in the minority so I'll just leave it as is.
The other downside to all the new trails and the broadcasting of them is the influx of new riders. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not the sort to be all precious about stuff and they're not my trails - hell I'm not even that local. I also don't have issues with people turning up with full on DH bikes and full facers to ride stuff that frankly you don't need much more than a hard tail for (although it does make me smile - see young gentleman in full on Monster gear, a Redbull painted helmet and a carbon demo 8 as an example). This is Surrey/Berkshire after all and people have muchos disposable cash. Nope, thats all good with me, the more people that ride the better. What REALLY grips my shit are people that don't say hello. Moody bastards who ride past you who you say hello to and they just ignore you. What school of charm they attended I don't know, but clearly they were behind the bike sheds smoking B&H when the 'how to be pleasant to each other' lesson was being conducted. I witnessed the same at Thetford the previous weekend, the normally friendly locals replaced by a bunch of ill mannered pigs. Seriously, how much effort does it take to say 'hi'? The bloke parked next to me getting his bike ready to go for a ride who when I said 'have a good ride' to just looked at me like I'd shot his dog (had it been there, I probably would have). This isn't just limited to the bicycle shaped object riders careering round with no helmet and addidas trackie bottoms on either. Two blokes done up in full lycra on very nice looking 29er race bikes both rode past with an expression like something had just crawled up their noses. Yeah, you know who you are Mr BMC - it wouldn't have killed you to say hello would it.
We're already hated by ramblers and horse riders, lets at least try to get on with each other.
Anyway, excluding the above the ride went well. 3 hours in total, I did both the red and the blue routes, then rode round the fire roads just to get the mileage up. To be fair, I think just banging out laps of the fire roads at Swinley would be good training for the TD, decent'ish climbs (although obviously not as long) and enough variation to stop it becoming too boring. Maybe I need to plan a ride there.
My current level of fitness is still pretty rubbish however, I seem to hit the wall pretty heavily after about 2.5 hours and that's with torq in my bottles and an energy gel. By the time I got back to my car last night I was eyeing up the grips on my bars wondering what the nutritional content of a set of lizard skins is. I then promptly ate my own bodyweight (so a lot) in shit food on the way home which was not the idea. Not the idea at all. I've no idea what's causing this, maybe I need to eat less but more often or just man up and let my body adapt. Either way, I'm eating like it's going out of fashion at the moment and this needs to stop.
Tomorrow I'm out with a couple of local lads for a ride round The Surrey Alps. Having lived in Surrey for nearly two years I'm ashamed to say I've only ridden there once and therefore my knowledge of the area is pretty rubbish. One of the lads soundly thrashed me in the nationals at Sherwood last year, the other is an expert racer that weighs about as much as my breakfast so it's going to be a day of pain. However 3.5 hours at a pace I'm not used to is surely a good thing and I'll also gain knowledge of trails that are just outside my door. Doesn't mean I'm not off to bed at 8 tonight after a dinner of pasta and more pasta though....
Have a good weekend y'all