It was kinda appropriate I guess, that we changed the date for this one three times. Thankfully it was third time lucky with everything coming together nicely. First up was Seasbass Cycles to pick up the south crew. From there we cruised over to Hyde Park to meet everyone else. I'm not sure if it was the weather but once there we became a big crew. Ride regulars and first timers, most rockin’ wide bars, the rest drops, this was going to be rad.
We set off from the park heading for Little Venice and the Harrow Road then hitting the canal going west. Traveling at a decent social pace we were soon well past Kensal Green and looking at Wembley in the distance. The track was gritty, making the ride skittish as we hammered along. First stop was The Black Horse, a beautiful little canal side pub, a welcome break from the heat and a chance to nip to the toilet. Refreshed and relieved we hit the path again. Turning right at Marnham Fields and over a beautiful wooden bridge. Waiting for us was Northala Fields, complete with a few man made hills and a model boating lake. Just beyond this we dropped under the A40 popping up onto a side road where we met Robin and his trusty Steamroller. This was were the magic started to happen, where I could hand over the reigns to Robin and let him show the crew his playground.
The weather was still spectacular for this time of year and even as we experienced our second puncture there were smiles all round. Or perhaps it was because we were about to hit our lunch time destination, The Swan And Bottle. A beautiful little pub with an extensive menu, even catering for vegans. Suitably fed and watered it was time to get muddy and smash the Tracklocross route Robin had discovered. Having ridden it once in the dead of summer I was stupidly surprised to find the route quite tough. It was a real challenge to keep the bike upright even when rocking wide-bars and 28's. With each turn came a fresh challenge, be it brambles, stinging nettles or a huge drainage pipe, that needed to be negotiated cleverly. This was Tracklocross and everyone, except perhaps the dude on track-drops, was having a ball.
Images below shot by Michael Lane
One loop and one crash into the nettles later, it was time to smash the route proper. Those that felt one rotation was enough, chilled at the start finish line, while the rest of us got gnarly! This time the pace was aggressive with Robin leading us out at a blistering pace. The trick to staying upright appeared to be more speed, although that was difficult as you had to slow down for a large number of the technical turns. Negotiating the change in terrain was also tricky; from mud to dry wood, when crossing the bridges, then, from wet grass to gravel and back again to mud and everything in between. Some sections were really fast and truly exhilarating, skipping left and right dodging roots, tree stumps and hanging spiky vines, that tore at your skin as you shot past. Other sections were really slow and boggy which meant your rear wheel spun without traction, as you tried to get going again.
Then it happened, "the nature" fought back and in a second I was down, thoroughly painted with mud, up and down my left hand side. Desperately flailing and beckoning the rider behind to pass but quickly back on two wheels, I was off again and finally through the start finish line. And with that it was time to celebrate, time to chat and share the experience, time to hit the nearest pub and enjoy a beer and then, time to head home.
Text - Jewksy
Images below shot by Christine Geiger