I met up with Ricky and Choc at Choc's house just after 6pm and we headed out of town to do one of several regular routes we established last year. The route is north of Melton and takes in bridleways and country lanes around Holwell, Ab Kettleby, Wartnaby and Saxelby. It covers an area that includes the old quarry and railway that used to provide the iron ore for the foundry at Asfordby Hill and finishes through the grounds of the still existing foundry.

As is common when we start from Melton some tarmac was required to get to the off road stuff. The evening was warm and cloudy with quite a bit of wind. I had decided to give the hardtail a run out as I hadn't tried it with it's "hand me down" tubeless wheels from my old Hustler. I also thought our route could be muddy in places due to the rain we have had. I needn't have worried. On the first bridleway it was obvious the dry land had easily absorbed the rain.

I don't usually ride the hardtail on this type of ride because the horse churned bridleways make me need the comfort of suspension. There was a bit more softness to the ground on the night than when it is totally dry but I was still found the going tougher than on my full suspension bike. The headwind we had for long sections also didn't help!

The route we did includes two permissive bridleways that do not appear on OS maps. In the last couple of years we've found a few of these in our area that have opened up new route possibilities. If you want to check out permissive access in your area the place to start is the Defra web site. It has detailed maps and information.