1 Sept, Green Dragon, (6,5-13)
The Green Dragon, Liphook was the mustering location for tonight's ride. The pub has recently changed hands so we were unsure what to expect but there was a table prepared and, with a deadline of 9pm for ordering food, early signs were promising.
Tonight's willing victims were ; Tonka (RM), Slumpy (DRM), Strangely Brown, Chuff, Fracker, St John of Tarmac, Plastic Man Johnny, Big Ring, Faff Cheeks, Nurse Brown and LBD.
We set off with clear skies and headed through the hanger to Bramshott Church, through the graveyard and down the steps - very disrespectful I know but you don't want to hang around in the churchyard as it's reputedly haunted ! We then headed up Woolmer Lane, past Ludshott Manor and roughly uphill towards Ludshott Common. We then turned right and a nice downhill section (taken at speed by Chuff, Nurse Brown, Plastic Man etc). We then negotiated the dodgy wooden bridge and headed past the ponds and to the ever so slightly rooty and slippery path of doom to the Impossible Climb.
Well the Impossible Climb is no longer, and shall be known going forwards as the 'tricky, but somewhat achievable, in favourable conditions climb' as Chuff breezed up it closely followed by Plastic Man Johnny who made it look equally easy. There were several notable fails including yours truly who rode into a bush after about 3 metres !
We then crossed the cricket pitch at Grayshott. This necessitated a slight detour as, since the scoping exercise, there were a bunch of fellas in white putting willow to leather (or something poetical like that) in the middle of the pitch. We discretely skirted the players and spectators and proceeded in a southerly direction along a 'narrow bridleway' where we encountered several dog walkers (they were very patient and obviously we were very polite).
We then tackled a nice fast downhill section before plunging out onto the tarmac and off to the Golden Valley. At this location there was none of the unpleasantness of last year and not an irate, lead wielding dog walker to be seen. We meandered up through the heather (another narrow bridleway), negotiated tricky technical hairpins and rooty sections to reveal a lovely view at the top (well worth the climb). This is not a section to tackle in the wet methinks.
Down through the kissing gate and onto the pine woods section punctuated by two fallen trees which the more gung-ho Shabis negotiated 'a velo' (as opposed to 'en pied)'. There were a few grunts and exclamations but no casualties. We then schlepped up to Beacon Hill where the RM suffered the closest we came to a mechanical (crunchy gear, chain off , sweary incident).
The next section took us through a newly scoped wooded path to a fast and fun downhill section which terminated in a humpy/jump bit and down a slippy slidey bit, where Big Ring had an off last year. Apparently this is also where Slumpy broke his back a couple of weeks ago which required a month in traction !
I'm told there was a bit of a pile up/tailback near the humpy/jump bit but the RM had moved on and so all was well in his world. We then headed up (again) to Grayshott and made our way to the start of the ever so slightly slippery and rooty path which we decided not to do in the very faded light - heading instead up and over Waggoners Wells, and up the last false flat to the car park.