"Hah, we could always do 50 off-road miles after work"
"Sure, I'll take you up on that - How does next week sound"
Everything stupid we've ever done has usually ended up with a conversation like this taking place and this ride was absolutely no exception.
The standard Monday MTB rides usually ride out at around 6:30, pottering through the enclosures sampling some of the forest's hills, single track and gravel paths before heading home a few hours later. This was no ordinary Monday. The gauntlet had been thrown down the week previously and in a hurry to complete the challenge before the winter months set in, Phil G had already plotted a route and assembled a gang of idiots stupid enough to try. The mission was simple - 50 miles off-road in the forest after work on a Monday - job jobbed.
Early Monday morning rolled round and an earlier-than-usual alarm meant only one thing - lay out all of the Mountain bike kit in a line, check you have everything and get prepared for the evening ride. After 15 mins of staring at the large pile of lights, food, gels and equipment, it was time for work. 8 dull hours passed by, with not a moment of distraction from the epic evening challenge. The second the clock ticked to 5pm, it was out the door in a rush and back home to get out on the bike.
The group assembled in the shop as per the normal Monday protocol, but this time, people turned up with their game faces on! After fitting some test lights (The excellent Lupine Pico R7) to the bikes, the group headed off into the forest to start racking up the miles.
A quick pace was set on the starting loop "Brock and beyond", the idea being to get as many miles in before the light faded. Whilst the sun sets there is around an hour where the brain tells you to leave the headlight off to conserve power - even though its far too dark to ride. This was a route that needed all the juice in the batteries - so the brave adventurers plowed ahead chewing up the miles.
The weather in the previous two or three days had been rather wet, causing some extreamly boggy sections along the route. Most of the riders were on fatbikes which LOVE to glide over the mud, making it a pleasure to ride on rather than a chore.
Just over half way round and the group stopped in Brockenhurst for a quick top up of water bottles. 5+ grown men in lycra covered from head to toe in mud walking into Tesco at 11pm must have looked rather strange to some, but given they were doing 50 miles on a Monday night, i'm not sure they cared too much!
After a quick refuel it was back in the saddle to complete the last 20 back to the starting point at Cyclexperience.
Rolling down shore road at the end of the route at 1AM on Tuesday was a fun but eeery feeling. No finish line or hordes of cheering supporters, just a few big grins and the silence of a job well done.
Excellent work to all riders and another big challenge in the bag.