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Holmwood Common Ride 20th January 2007

On Saturday 20th January we set out on one of our usual rides, Holmwood Common to Westcott. It was cold but there was no rain and it wasn't too cloudy. The severe storms left tracks muddy but we had no idea how much the storms would effect our ride.

We couldn't go across the common because of tree work and the state of the tracks so we went on the roads near Henfold lakes. It was an easy ride to the A24 after climbing some gentle hills. There were no crashes in the subway (we.ve experienced some before) so it was a simple ride. We climbed a long hill to get into Redlands wood where we had some haribo for energy. We paused for a while where we took off waterproofs and had some drinks. When we reached the path we usually cycle along we saw one fallen tree. It had no branches so we assumed it would be easy to get our bikes over it. It turned out the track had a fallen tree before it that we couldn't see because it was in a ditch. On the small ascend to our second tree we began to get the full picture. As far as the eye could see there were trees lying across our path.

It turned out that lifting a bike over twelve or more trees was a difficult task and that it would be impossible to continue on our path. We veered off down a small track and we finally reached the road. At the road it sunk in, we had seen some first hand experience of global warming, there must have been over twenty fully grown pine trees on our path. It must have taken at least fifteen minutes to cover a small piece of track that usually takes us two minutes. After a long gruelling task of lifting bikes and jumping over mud we reached the road. On the road we couldn't stop talking about the trees. It was an unforgettable sight. Tilted trees just standing and trees that fell in a chain link or just on there own. Branches were all over the track and I'm sure we all suffered a few scratches.

We then met a motocross rider who also had a mountain bike but he had fitted an engine to it! What a cheater! We decided to show him you don't need an engine to climb a hill so we gave it our all and climbed the remaining section. After continuing on that track for ten minutes we reached our tea stop, The Westcott bakery. We sat down on the concrete outside and tucked in to our hot chocolates and flapjacks.

On the return journey we came across a farm (we like to call it sheep farm because it's usually full of sheep) that was empty and waterlogged. We had a slippery time crossing it; Simon fell into mud and jumped in a large puddle of water he thought he could clear. We got very wet feet. When we got to the gate we couldn't open it so we climbed over it and started lifting our bikes over it. Rob soon caught us up when he opened it to our surprise. We finally reached the end of that waterlogged section when we began to climb a very steep hill. It proved to be even worse today, it was very muddy and part of Simon's derailleur (the jockey wheels) fell off and rolled down the hill. While Rob and Simon were trying to find it and fix it we saw some shooters. They were hoping to find some pheasants. Simon's chain was never fixed and he had to run up the hills and freewheel on the downs. We made a fast exit though because as soon as we left the shooting began.

Simon's Dad picked him up before we re-entered Redlands wood; this time we took a different route to avoid the fallen trees. We took the same route back from then onwards and came back to the car park (at different times) after the long and fast road section.

This ended up being one of the most eventful but enjoyable rides ever and we all had a good time. It was a once in a lifetime experience, seeing all of the fallen trees. It's a shame more people didn't see it but I'm sure they also saw something extra ordinary!:

Holly Donovan


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