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I didn’t want to go cycling this weekend. Could. Not. Be. Bothered.
I tried really hard not to go too: ‘it’s too cold’, ‘the van’s still in the garage’, ‘my bike’s not ready’, ‘the trails won’t be rideable’. Yep, believe it or not, as much as I love cycling, sometimes all I want to do is sit about in my pants eating pizza and scrolling social media (or actually writing one of the hundreds of blog posts I’ve got planned before they’re all not relevant any more?!)
When we got the word from Bike Park Wales that our Drop Zone coaching was off and the park was closed due to the snow, (time to up our singletrack skillz – more on this later!), I pulled out all the stops to not go anywhere at all. And when the contingency plan of riding the nearby Surrey Hills was presented to me I tried even harder.
But having been my better half for nearly half of my life, Chris knows me well enough to keep pushing against my moaning, no matter how persistent, and just drag me outside anyway.
He knows just as well as I do, (and I think you do too), that the weather is never as bad as it looks once you bite the bullet and get out in it, and you always feel great once it’s done, whatever exercise you’re doing.
|Knowing he was right to drag me out|
You never regret a workout, right?
Well you never, ever regret a ride (unless it ends like this, but I don’t plan on doing that again any time soon!)
Anyway, Chris did drag me out, and I’m so glad he did – it was a beautiful, snowy, sloppy, muddy weekend of riding on some of our favourite Surrey Hills trails.
He saw my ‘it’s too cold’, and raised me my favourite Liv thermal base layer, straight from the wash.
He saw my ‘the van’s still in the garage’, and raised me a hire van from down the road.
He saw my ‘the trails won’t be rideable’, and raised me a worse case scenario of a lovely woodland walk around the Surrey Hills if we couldn’t ride.
I’ve been really annoyed with the weather this winter, and that’s really unlike me. We’ve had a really wet and windy few months in Brighton and it’s stopped me getting out on the bikes as much as I’d like to. My lovely twice weekly 12 mile cycle commute to Worthing isn’t such an appetising prospect when you wake up to 20, 40 or 50mph headwinds. And when it started snowing that really put a stop to any road rides.
I did get out last weekend for an amazing solo South Downs Way adventure though which filled my heart with joy.
Surrey Hills playground
Before I share our weekend’s adventures, let me just tell you a bit about the Surrey Hills if you don’t already know. We’ve got Sean at Marmalade MTB to thank for introducing us to this amazing place that’s an hour from our doorstep in Brighton.
Crisscrossing the North Downs around Holmbury Hill, Pitch Hill and Leith Hill you’ll find an incredible network of fast, flowy, fun and rooty singletrack riding. Some of the trails are more accessible / obvious to find than others (we only know where four are off by heart – Yoghurt Pots, Telegraphs, Barry Knows Best and Summer Lightning – so ride those a lot when not with Sean or others who know the way).
|Checking out the Marmalade MTB merch|
Read about our first taste of the Surrey Hills on Marmalade MTB’s Taster ride
Unlike the trail centre riding in Wales and Forest of Dean that we’re so used to, not all Surrey Hills trails are waymarked, and the uplift and visitor centre are replaced with long, lungbusting climbs and lovely village cafes, pubs and bike shops. (For the record, we don’t use the uplift all the time at BPW, we mix up a few climbs with a few treats on the bus to the top).
|Looking a bit clean before the sludge fest|
So this weekend was spent riding the trails we do know, with good old Barry producing the best flow in the snow. We covered just over 20 miles across the two days, with more than 2,500ft of total climbing and a record breaking amount of sludge, mud and mess on our bikes, bodies and faces. It was MEGA.
Because of the snow and sludge we rode really carefully, not sure how grippy the trails would be. Some were better than others (Barrys was fine, Yoghurts a bit iffy in places, Summer Lightning well slippy).
We chomped on the legendary cheese straws at the Peaslake shop, drank tea from Marmalade MTB mugs, and swapped our usual van dwelling for an overnight stay at the Plough Inn in Coldharbour – which, by the way, I can totally recommend as a lovely place to stop if you’re visiting the Surrey Hills by bike or on foot.
Our room was beautiful (with a roll top bath and very welcome amazing shower – bathroom goals), the food was incredible (moules mariniere, homemade scotch egg, chicken, leek and ham pie, venison steak) and the staff were so helpful, accommodating and friendly. The pie was made with real shortcrust pastry and not the filo cop out you get in so many pubs these days.
We had a banging breakfast of scrambled eggs and smoked salmon on big chunky toast (me) and a full English (Chris), with our own cafatiere of coffee, and after we finished riding we washed our bikes round the back by the brewery (yes they have their own brewery).
|Breakfast goals at The Plough|
It was all such a treat and a really nice change from staying in our van which we normally do. And so nice to get out on the trails in the last of the snow, having fun getting covered in the sludge as it melted over the weekend.
Us and a few other riders had the trails to ourselves and those not cycling who we passed were runners, walkers, motocross riders and 4×4 drivers all out for a good play in the mud. It took me right back to my childhood, razzing my BMX round the woods getting caked in mud, not a care in the world, when the weather didn’t matter and there was no such thing as sitting about on social media or watching Netflix.
|Happy as a pig in…|
Best weekend ever.
So guys… don’t let the weather stop you when you don’t want to go for that ride, get out for that run, or go to that exercise class.
When your alarm goes off for that planned pre-work session, don’t hit the snooze. When it’s blowing a gale outside and you contemplate skipping that post-work group run or ride, pull on your kit and get out there anyway.
Especially when you really really don’t want to. Who knows, you might even enjoy yourself!
Have you been exercising this winter?