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I think this one must have been to 4th time we've done this annual summer event. Again, we were blessed with fine weather and a side/tail wind. I got the train down to Woodbridge to find the others supping coffee in the sunshine outside the station. We left at about 10:45 after catching up on things and general chat. Then we made our way towards, and into Rendlesham Forest then to Tunstall via Wantisden/Butley. No singletrack involved for a change this time, but I was able to show the others the remains of the "Fire Tower" that was demolished about 30 years ago but remains on even the most recent OS map of the forest. I'd often wondered where it was, and was only shown it the previous day by the contractor we employed to do the bracken spraying.

The heather was in full bloom with a very strong aroma on the Tunstall side of Blaxhall Heath where I was able to point-out another burial mound that again I was shown the previous day. The same contractor is also employed by the FC to strim all the other ancient monuments in the forest , he had an interesting map showing where they were, far more than are shown on the OS map, and another reason why we need the correct permission to trail-build.

On Blaxhall Heath, just north of Sandgalls car park.

We then made our way to Snape, and used the very overgrown bridleway to Blackheath Corner. The foliage along here was the worst we had ever encountered and involved much blood letting from the brambles and tingling legs from the nettles. From here it was a bit of tarmac then sandy but firm tracks to Thorpeness, Sizewell and Eastbridge. By this time we were starving, despite regular stops for snacks and drinks. In fact we stopped so often to chat and partake in general "pee taking banter" that we were running late and didn't roll in to the lunch stop until 14:30.

Bridge Farm Tea Room has now been re-named as "Little Dingle" Tea Room which could be confusing if you're using the map to find it as it's a fair way from Little Dingle further up the coast lane. Toasted sarnies were the order of the day followed by coffee, walnut cake and tea. As usual it was superb. After about an hour we dragged ourselves out of the chairs in blazing sunshine, refilled with water from the kitchen (and not the outside tap we used on previous rides, apparently it's only "irrigation water" from a well).

Bloke on the left sampling the cake before rushing home and getting changed to judge "The Great British Bake-off"

Grudgingly we made our way up the hill towards Walberswick . Here we found the way towards the bailey bridge blocked by roadwork's so we had to divert into the village to be confronted by hundreds of grockles packing the place out. To get back to the bridge we rode partly along the saltings which had only just been vacated by the high spring tide. Very wet and sticky mud quickly built-up on the tyres to which the stones adhered once back on the sea wall…………..followed by pebble-dashed legs.

As we had the extra diversion to deal with, we detoured from the normal route and rode directly to Reydon missing out Southwold and the pier. There was about 2 miles of tarmac before we could get back to the off-road sections to Benacre. A nice tail wind blew us out to the coast which was welcome, and by now the sun had gone in making a bit cooler for riding as well.

Then it was up the coast to Kessingland through the sand dunes. We just had to stop for this photo opportunity……………………..of some very haggard riders.

From here we arrived at the caravan site where the path along the cliff top has long been lost to the sea, so we needed to decide on either the boring inland beside the A12 route or the beach ride. I went down the steps a bit to get a better view of what laid ahead and decided to chance it and go for the beach. We carefully made our way down the long steps to the beach and dragged the bikes across the stones. The tide was still too high for my liking but we managed to find a still wet section of sandy beach at the high-water mark which although not perfect, it was still better than I expected it to be. It seems like this beach is rideable only on the ebb tide, as it would probably have dried out too much by the time it was coming in again. As we neared Lowestoft the sand became harder across the whole lower section of the beach where we could indulge in the usual "wave dodging" fun on wet hard packed sand that made your tyres buzz…………………………I love doing this.

Scooting along the beach at Pakefield (pictures taken "on the move" riding one handed……………and trying to miss the soft spots)


Paul was getting a bit tired by now…………………

We finally arrived at Lowestoft at about 17:45 to get the train back home.

It was a total of 51 miles at an average moving speed of just over 10 mph and 80% off-road.

Paul rang me the previous evening to ask if I thought he was up to it as he'd never ridden that far before ……………………….I said "go for it, you'll be OK". It doesn't seem that long ago he was struggling to get around the VT at a decent pace, and now he's done this, well done Paul…………………….especially for an "oldun". It just goes to show that you're never too old to start something new and he was really chuffed at his achievement which is a great accolade for what TROG is all about. A bit of encouragement, hard work and the opportunity to do a ride like this with mates. I worked out that the average age on this ride was somewhere around 56………………………..we do have young members as well though.




Thank to those who put in a couple of hours this morning, we had just the right number to achieve our aims, plus a bit more .

We started by digging-in the new way-marking post on fire road 28. This should now guide riders up the fire road rather than going straight on and missing some good sections out. It looks like there's been a lot of traffic taking the wrong route so hopefully this should fix it. As it's the only extra post needed so far on the VT, it looks like we got nearly right first go.

We then moved along to the "Roller Coaster" section. Here we smoothed out some of the short and wet bumps and hollows so you can now maintain your speed up the next incline. The first ramp has been smoothed on the right hand side but the left side hasn't been touched so you can still "get some air" if you want to. The landing area is better as well now. A side slope was added where needed to assist drainage.

This is the "before" picture, although the camera angle doesn't show the ramp very well.

This one and those below show the finished trail.

When we'd finished, we dragged forest debris and moss back to the trail to try and narrow it back to the riding line where it had widened around the wet patches, then moved back towards Luptons Leap and did some similar repairs and drainage to the bottom LH bend that takes you up to the first hill.

It was good to see so many "casual riders" enjoying the forest today.......just what we were aiming for . After lunch at The Ship (Blaxhall: very nice it was as well, and well priced), Tracey and me did about 15 miles around the forest and saw even more riders of all abilities making their way around the VT .

Shame about all the Gel Wrappers riders have dropped! If you can take a full one into the forest, please take the empty one out

We managed to get a fair bit done this morning despite the low turn-out of workers , so we scaled down what we wanted to do to match. Removed "Gav's root" that had been pulled up into the trail by a recent leaner. Moved the way-marking post from where some plonker had dug it in to somewhere out of the way of the new corner line, then created a new bigger radius corner. Up-trail work was limited to removing tree stumps and putting in a gentle sweep with a drainage slope.

All bedded in with the Wacker Plate which wasn't running very well. When I got it home to have a look, I noticed that a return spring on the butterfly had come un-hooked. The air filter looked dirty as well so I will get a new one and a new spark plug. We thought it might have been stale petrol but perhaps it wasn't . Normally they are difficult to start when this is the case.

Finished off by cutting and removing another new fallen tree (fallen since Thursday )from the section that runs parallel to FR24.
Welcome to Paul for his first TB session, I hope we didn't work you too hard. We certainly need more member participation if we are going to be able to maintain the trails that so many people like to ride . Hope you had a good ride afterwards if you had enough energy left, and thanks to the others for their hard work .

Thanks to everyone who came on Sunday morning . The best turnout for ages

Good progress made with the 39 Steps berm repaired and re-profiled for a better exit line. The big wet hole after BH2 has been bypassed. We wiggled a spade in the "failed" French Drain and the water gurgled and glugged away into the stones. The top couple of inches had become clogged with a sandy clay layer. We dug out all the stone and went a bit deeper then re filled it again. The bypass has been profiled to slope towards this drain, hopefully keeping the riding line clear. I think we may have to do a bit more work on the new line some time when it's more established. We didn't bother with installing the membrane as it would only have worked if it was on the surface. I know of a few more French Drains that were covered, and in some cases Wacker-plated over that have the same problem and as such, should be a "quick fix". I thought this might happen when it was done . Future drains will have to have the stone left exposed.

Second French Drain installed just down from this point.

An area near V9B was also worked, with another couple of drains dug and backfilled with drainage stone.

At the bottom of the slalom section, more work was done to fill low spots and re-shape the bends.

Nigel Turner from the Forestry Commission will be offically opening the fully way marked Viking Trail on April 5th

This is the culmination of many members efforts, both past and present, to build a club with the aim of improving the facilities and to promote participation of the whole community in the sport of mountain biking in Suffolk.
A lot has happened since the rainy summer of 2007 and the birth of TROG..

Whether racing is your thing or doing a bit of fine trail sculpting that floats your boat, it doesn't matter if your fit or not, male or female, young or old, we are always looking for new members and new ideas to help develop the club further.

Come along, bring your bike, and join us on the 5th!

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