The forecast was Cool and Cloudy for the Leeds Evans Cycles, Off Road Ride It! on 9th March 2014. I arrived at Harewood House, between Leeds and Harrogate at 8am and looking round the car park as we all unloaded our bikes, it quickly became apparent that everyone, like me, was just here for the ride – not to compete or race.

This was my 1st proper ride of 2014, 23 miles of hills, trails, fields, mud and more mud (photo was taken close to the start, whilst I was still clean).  I set off with an early group at 8.30am. I was riding alone whereas most people had come in small groups, so as people slowed for their slowest rider or to assist each other with bike related faults, I found myself overtaking quite a few riders – not only from my group but from the groups who had set off a little earlier.

This spurred me on and I decided that I wanted to push myself to see how quickly I could get round. At about 15 miles I found myself alone, I couldn’t see a rider in front nor behind me. From this point to the end I was riding against the clock, which although I’d come for the ride and a little MTB camaraderie, I still enjoyed the freedom, the views and yes… even the mud!

With no incidents, accidents or technical issues I managed to get round the course in 2hrs 28mins, which at the time, as I tucked into a bacon butty and a brew at the finish I was pleased with. On subsequently checking the web site, this was the 2nd fastest time set on the day, but I don’t think I will be challenging the likes of Jase, Dave, Phil & Budge anytime soon.

There are still a number of Evans Cycles – Ride It! events happening this year. Find out more:

By Mike Sudder