What a contrast between last night's ride and The Viking Challenge on Sunday! At the weekend we were sweating whilst riding and sunning ourselves in the beer garden afterwards. The temperature was in the high twenties. Last night the temperature was down to single figures (plus added wind chill) and it was raining!

When I arrived at The Bridge half an hour or so before the ride started it was still light and the skies were clear. It was however pretty windy and as Baz, Stu and I got ready we added all the layers we had. It felt pretty cold compared to the last few months! As we left the car park joined by a few others it also began to rain. Autumn seemed to have arrived in an instant?

Due to the fact that we were cold everyone was keen to get going. As we left the car park, a whole three minutes early, Shakey pedalled in and started bantering about the fact we were about to leave early without him. He didn't let up for the whole evening! :-)

As we entered the woods I somehow found myself at the front. That was me nominated leader without a word being said! I began picking out some good bits of singletrack and having the opportunity to do so set a pace I was comfortable with. There was soon some moaning and comments from the back - a sure sign that they were enjoying themselves and I was doing a reasonable job! :o

In the woods there is still quite a lot of summer foilage that hasn't died back yet and so I had a few navigational problems. Obviously these were met with the usual p*ss taking from behind. I also had a couple of dabs: one on a loose sandy turn that looked solid and another when I hit an old stump obscured by ferns. Luckily it was so rotten I destroyed the stump rather than damaging myself or my bike!

The rain never really came down hard enough to wet us properly during the ride and the trail surfaces were generally the better for a bit of moisture. It was a very good ride but felt so different to everything I've done recently: dark, damp, cool and leaves everywhere. Guess that's us "switched" to Autumn mode from now on then?

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