Sunday, November 04, 2007

Collingbourne Canter

John, Charlie-man, Ad and Ju all met up at Ludgershall Castle (on the outskirts of the MOD town of Ludgershall in Wiltshire, on the edge of Salisbury Plain) for a bike ride through Collingbourne Wood. Ad and Ju arrived late (as usual) to find Charlie fine tuning his bike and John ready to go. After some swift unloading of the VW Polo we were ready to rock 'n' roll: We made our way to the castle to admire the remnants of ‘Ye olde Royal Gate House’, a favorite hunting lodge of Henry III, before setting off at a good pace toward the wood.

Ju and Ad check out the local history

After some moderately open riding we snuck down a footpath and lifted our bikes over the stile for a clean run toward the woods. Ad was in his element as we weaved our way at high speed through the picturesque autumnal beech woodland dodging tree roots and stumps and attempting to jump the odd obstruction. Charlie had his GPS and much to our delight found the correct setting (after a short delay) to pinpoint our position on the trusty O/S map which Ad had neatly folded away in his pocket - just incase his plan didn’t go to plan. Ad’s plan actually consisted of: 1. we meet at the castle; 2. look at the castle; 3. sneak down a short footpath into the woods; 4. ride around till we were all too tired; 5. find our way back. (A better plan than has benefited numerous a previous ride that's for sure! Ed.)

The TCA emerge, blinking in the sunlight
(Left to Right: Ad, Ju, John, Charlie-man)

The track was gently undulating with only one real hill worthy of breaking into a sweat (Jonny P & Jerry would have been disappointed) which Charlie and John flew up while Ad brought up the rear suffering with chain/gear trouble. Then came the big event – ‘New Zealand Farm’ – (above). We stopped at the Farm sign, which was a definite must as Ju would have really spat the dummy otherwise. We then dropped down the longest and steepest down-hill section yet, which was a long blast over a graveled track that had some interesting washed out sections – again testing the riders' bunny-hopping skills. During this exhilarating descent Ju's rear tyre gave up the ghost, blowing out at high speed. Unfortunately the ever intrepid Ju had to walk the last 150m of the descent. Some slick tube changing ensued and in no time at all we were back on our way into the wood for some more single track fun (Ad having learnt his lesson long ago about putting the bike wheel on the right way around).

Having passed 2 horse riders, we soon came across 2 ramblers, the awesome foursome stopped abreast the track in formation trying to judge which way the ramblers would head or whether they would be intimidated into moving aside….. They carried on and turned right in front of the staunch barrier – actually they hardly even noticed us as we caught our collective breath and decided which track to take at the cross road ahead!

The Best Autumn Colours in years

We followed our senses and rolled our way back through the web of tracks (not more than 40cms wide in most cases) testing ourselves where ever possible. We did get a little lost when the track came to an end winding into ever decreasing circles before we realised what had happened. John H, being the most sensible by this stage, knew what was coming so saved his energy whilst watching the 3 kids get tangled up. We then blasted through the wood jumping our way over or crashing our way through branches pruned from the canopy.

With lunch time fast approaching a gorgeous autumn Sunday afternoon to enjoy, we checked our handy folded map and took off toward the Castle. The track narrowed further still and we found that it was certainly single file time as we wound our way along the increasingly exciting tracks. Heading back always seems slightly down hill and as such our speeds increased – together with the track width and inability to see what obstacles lay ahead gave us cause for a laugh when Ad rear ended John after a blind corner with a large route crossing the track.

Getting closer to our cars and - more importantly - the pub we cruised back without further mishaps, Ad undertook an external inspection to an un-named property under his control, (note he charged no overtime for this valuable service) then the gang packed up and headed for the Pub. Matt, had he been there, would have loved this joint - with it's chav clientele, low lighting, alcho pops, no real ale (Noted by John) and massive sound system with Kareoke! The sweaty dirty group took their well deserved bevvies out to the sun-lit garden, partly so Charlie could download his stats and so that we could keep a beady eye on the Bikes!

Colingbourne wood gets the seal of approval for a fun short-to-mid length ride without major hillage!

Route Map (Click to enlarge):
Elevation/Speed profile:

(Posted by: Ad)

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At 6:37 pm, November 13, 2007, Blogger TCA said...

Nice work guys, looks like it was a lovely day for it!

Love the autumnal photo - in total contrast with photos from Patagonia!


At 9:30 pm, November 13, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Buddy, It was a good laugh - although I am still scared from Rear-ending John H!!!


At 9:35 pm, November 13, 2007, Blogger TCA said...

Yes, that's some rear end!

At 3:08 am, November 14, 2007, Blogger Chris said...

Not much left of that castle.

At 8:43 am, November 14, 2007, Blogger TCA said...

ahh yes rear ending is always a potential hazard in the TCA especially with such close quarter engagement. I am surprised Ad is not still traumatised.

Good work guys and gals and great photo's.


At 4:13 am, November 15, 2007, Blogger simon said...

love the autumn colours for real

At 12:12 pm, November 16, 2007, Blogger lorenzothellama said...

I assume that is Ju of Ju's Little Sister fame?
Talking of rear ends, someone once described a certain lady I know of 'having an arse like a Clydesdale Mare'. Good description, hey?

ps I loved your comment about leaches on Simon's blog.


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