This last year and a half has been a funny old time. A new job with a rapidly growing company during the time of Covid. Many staff have been drifting in and out of the office in conjunction with lockdown restrictions and many of us have only got to know each other digitally, as working remotely has become the new norm. Since things have eased, evening social rides have become a bit of a thing, a chance to connect and relate to each other through a shared enthusiasm for cycling. This is how 'Flare Bar Thursdays' came in to being, where I would share some of the more hidden away and not necessarily bike friendly bridleways and tracks with a small but enthusiastic group of work colleagues.
The weather has been up and down. Did we even properly have a summer? I'm not entirely sure. The tracks and trails have yo-yoed between ankle deep, horse churned quagmires and rock hard, egg box corrugations, rarely hitting that sweet spot. Actual gravel is anyway a bit of a misnomer in Sussex. There are bits, even some really good bits but they take some finding and they're not big on continuity. Falling over in mud and being violently shaken are more the order of the day and there are precious few miles of pristine fire roads through Pine forests.
Despite all this, these rides have been enduringly popular and there has always been a core of riders who keep coming back for more, alas squashing a couple of hours in before a pub finish wasn't always quite enough. The natural progression would be to do an overnighter, to spend a bit more meaningful time together and to go further than the 15 mile radius around Partridge Green. I love organising that kind of thing and I was pretty sure that we could get something organised at some point, but the summer rushed by and it was 'now or never' as a long, wet British winter was staring us down.