A tale of three rides, a tale of woe and a tale of joy.

The three ride weekend.

It didn't start out this way. Long holiday weekend here in the UK, so the aim was to do stuff with the children. Went to the seaside, wet to a mall, did a family lunch, normal stuff. Yet Saturday evening there was a free couple of hours, and Sunday morning was a big event at the Church, so again I found myself with some spare time.

Saturday evening.

Now this was a great way to spend ninety minutes. No pack, no cycling gear, just me, street wear and a full suspension mountain bike. In the end the susser was superfluous; any bike would have done. I went up the hill, through bluebell woods, and on to the ridge where there were loads of family picnics under way. People were sitting on the ridge, looking over the Weald, watching the sun go down. Glorious and a real sense of community in an odd way. Spoke to nobody but felt part of everything.

Sunday morning.

Ah, the inevitable crap ride. These happen now and then. Confluence of badness. Tired, it rained, and there was nobody about. In three hours I briefly saw two other mountain bikers. That was it, that was my entire social experience the whole ride. A brief glimpse of two other people. No walkers, no cyclists, no horse riders. Just me and my bike.

A person doesn't need much. I can happily ride solo all day. But I do need those odd little moments you get out on the trail. The cheery "hello" to a horse rider, the witty comments from the walkers, or the brief engagement you get with other cyclists. Even Ali wasn't there with her café. There was just me, the rain, and the mud. I only got as far as Headley Heath.

Pants isn't it? Also pants were the so called "new" trails on the Heath. I'd been directed to them some time ago, but my memory map of the area suggested that there was too little space for newness. It's all been done before. Figured on a look over today. My memory map was correct. Sure there was one little path down a bit of a drop, but this was only to be found after a clamber over fallen trees. It wasn't worth the effort, even on a good day.

My rear maxle played the grump as well, coming undone. Naturally for ten miles it felt like a slowly deflating rear tyre. Naturally being tubeless I let it run in the hope it would self cure. Once I found out what the problem was, I was both relieved and annoyed. Relieved not to mess with latex, but annoyed that the rear subframe may be a bit knackered now. Can't get a new one you see; Orange have allegedly kept them all for warranty work.

Up on Colley Hill there was a film crew operating, shooting some Celtic themed video. Had no choice; had to ride through the middle of the set. Sorry.

Tuesday night.

Wife volunteered me to help out with the Cubs. I'd help anyway, but tonight was different. Bike night up the hill with twenty cubs and parents. Off I went. One guy turned up with a first aid kit the size of a small suitcase. I was the only one with lights and tools. Go figure.

One child had stabilisers, and more than a few were on first bikes. Pieces of heavy crap you give to a three year old as a hand me down for them to destroy. It's almost OK on an eight year old to do that, but one kid was ten. Actually it's not is it? It's never OK to push things that far.

Cyclists they were not.

What they were was amazingly keen. The children were really up for it, mud and all. This little spin through perhaps three miles of muddy trails with a bunch of eight year olds was better than my hardcore Sunday solo outing.

It was also more tiring. Not only did I end up with a group of around twelve children to shepherd along some roads, I also had to go back and forward making sure they all went the right way. Had a moment where one group leader [an adult and the last rider] was adamant that everybody had gone right whilst I was telling her to go left. The big clue being the thirty fluorescent jackets that had gone left ahead of her. That was a bit shouty.

My son and I got home covered in mud happy from a shared experience. It was all calm, it was all casual. He'd even had an off at some point.