Very early start – left house at 7am – half hour ride 25Km to get there.

John and Dave arrived as well – from the Lot of Bikes crew – John seems to be the focal point as everyone meets at his place and he has a motocross track in the garden – he organised the Treasure Hunt. Used to race speedway in the UK. Both MUCH faster and hugely more experienced than me. However, John’s knee was swollen so he was happy to stick to the “easy” route.

Loads of people there – at a guess about 200 and loads with Quads, some of the buggy/pottering type but quite a lot of racy looking machines. John had been before and suggested an early start to avoid traffic and getting caught up with quads which are fast on some bits but slow and hard to overtake on others.

The easy route was the default and marked in Blue, with some detours for bikes only (too narrow for quads). Then there were some red routes which were billed as OK for a rider with plenty of experience. Then there were the black routes declared to be challenging even for the experienced. And there was one extreme black route for the very brave which they said had spotters placed along the track to help catch you when it went wrong.

The starting procedure was to form a queue, then the front 8 or so were coralled – a mix of every type and released, then the same again at 5 min intervals or so. We were the second group away.

All OK until I took a wrong turn into a red route by mistake. Steep hill climb, got nervous so sat down (now my approach – get up the hill anyway regardless of style) but that immediately lightens the front, then hit a rock and lifted the front wheel heading off the track into a tree. Just missed it and stopped and managed to get going again with people queing behind. Doh!

Paid more attention after that. John and Dave were running ahead – as usual I found that to keep in touch with them I was going faster than my limit and making mistakes, so I just went at my pace (which seems pretty bloody quick to me) and caught them up every now and again. Then they disappeared….

I was following the blue arrows but didn’t catch up with them.

Went past a refreshment stop which may have been half way, but they weren’t there so carried on. I was now one of the front runners (but didn’t realise). Came up behind a quad who had stopped and the trail was clearly marked but someone had put a wire across. Another bike turned up with some pliers and cut through the wire and we carried on.

Went wrong a couple of times but soon realised and retraced my route to pick up the arrows. Then at one point the arrows stopped and no clear way to turn so I stopped for a break. Then John turned up and explained they had got lost, which is why I never saw them. Dave had lost it going through some ruts and fallen heavily and brused his ribs so had retired early.

Other people arrived at the same spot with no arrow and set off down each of the options to try to pick up the trail which they did and we carried on.

About 65Km in total nearly all off road and about 3 hours. Had quite a few near misses but didn’t actually fall off.

As usual when reflecting on these rides I’m just so impressed with the bike – such a capable machine and perfect for the job.

Hybrid/Trials rear not perfect on any loose stuff but worked pretty well. An enduro knobby would probably have been better but I didn’t think there would be so much loose/soil type going.

Quite a few woods sections with non stop tight S bends, weaving in and out of trees. Not something I’m familair with and hard to go at any speed. Was overtaken by one fast guy and he just flowed through them.

Had started to develop blisters again after my ride last week with Adam so was using the “palm savers” that I bought. They worked as the blisters are OK but they add bulk so I have to hold on tighter and the sensitivity to the controls is not as good. They cover the palm as well which I don’t need – just the bottoms of the fingers. Going to try taping my hands next time to see if that works.

Impressed with my fitness level – was able to do the whole thing, mostly standing up and was OK. Running/cycling good for the legs. My grip endurance is also better – been doing some exercises for that and the rowing machine should help.

Goggles steaming up – in slow stuff with high exertion – the slalom in the woods- the goggles mist up. Need to look at the options to fix that.