Oh the familiar sound of the alarm clock on a Sunday, which somehow always sees me getting up earlier than I do on a weekday, but when Trail Unknown invite you on a ride, you don’t say no!
The Quantocks was the destination for the day – having ridden the Quantocks twice already in the week you might think I would already be bored of heading up to Somerset from Exeter. However, safe in the knowledge that you never know what is going to happen on any ride with Trail Unknown the journey was made again with the promise of new trails and, not promised, but much expected dodgy line choice and back wheel roost from both Tom and Hugo.
Arriving in the car park there was an eclectic mix of bikes from e-bikes to xc bikes, to hard core hardtails and the playing it safe big travel enduro bikes (aka me), although we all quickly eyed up the e-bikes and instantly called dibs on who was getting first tows up the hills. Once introductions were made, we headed up a short hill to the first descent, a classic grassy Quantocks speedway into some flowing fast corners to wake everyone up. Simon (the guide for the day) soon worked out that this was a group that was going to make a lot of noise down every descent, whoops of joy could probably be heard as far away as Dartmoor as back wheels tried to over take front wheels and loam sprayed into the eyes of every single member of the group.
We continued on and then down some more fast flowy corners, along a stream where multiple line choice made even a flat, pedally section interesting. We arrived at the bottom of a hill which I instantly recognised as something that I normally ride down and Simon gleefully said we would be riding up it – knowing how fun and fast that hill is to come down I wasn’t too excited to pedal up but with the potential of more golden, cornery, single track at the top I begrudgingly made my way up. And the promise was kept! Top hint for riding with Trail Unknown always, let either Tom or Hugo go in front of you and you will be crying with laughter the whole way down. I dropped in just behind Tom who went about 50 mph into the first corner, going full foot out flat out and setting the tone for the rest of that trail as we all went flying into corners with no regard for bike finesse – all safely arriving at the bottom after even more shrieking, that track was quite quickly named as one of everyone’s favourite so far and left us wanting to come back to ride it even faster when it was dry.
We continued on a traverse to the much-anticipated Foxy Bean café to calm our adrenalin and share stories of just missed trees and sketchy root hucks. After emptying the café of brownies and coffee we headed to Great Wood where the well known Triscombe trails are, safe in the knowledge that this is one of my top five riding spots I knew that Simon could point us down any trail and it would be guaranteed to be a good time. The first descent after lunch is always questionable and this was no exception. We set off into the first lot of corners and over some fun kickers and the next thing I hear is loud shrieks from behind as Will comes hooning it down and completely slides out on a corner with a massive smile on his face and hits the floor. Even more stoked he gets up and continues to shred down the trail with the rest of the group laughing their heads off enjoying the perfect gradient and grippy hero dirt.
We pedalled back round to the top for some more radness and headed towards the well known Chimney run. Here we split with some choosing the fast rocky chute and others excitedly headed down a super steep switch back trail. Pretty sure this time you could hear Tom’s shrieks in Scotland as we dropped in and gravity pulled us down the steep track and brakes squealed as we hit ruts and corners way too fast for our own good! We then winched up to the open moor again, along the way translating to each other what every shriek and yell meant. Legs were getting tired so we decided two finish with two more descents (always two more, never one more) and finish on a high. After riding even more perfect single track we headed back up to the final descent of the day and all excitedly looked down the grassy track in front of us. Simon provided the race beeps and we set off in a mass start down the valley, eyes watering we clung to our bikes as they rattled over the dry mud and settled into an order to tackle the upcoming left hander that we had all noticed at the last minute. Somehow, we skidded round and continued down at full speed avoiding ruts, sheep and more sketchy corners before finally coming to a halt at a gate. Turning around to look at the rest of the group as they came down there was a sea of smiles and definite feeling of ‘saved the best until last’, Tom and Hugo came sliding in at the rear and their smiles resonated with the group and we all agreed that was a mega way to end the ride.
Back at the car park we were rewarded with some fancy Trail Unknown t-shirts to celebrate a successful first day for them guiding on the Quantocks and much praise was given to the guys for an absolutely outstanding day out. A perfect balance of climbing and descending, great lunch stop, great chat from everyone all day and great fun! Cheers guys!
Hugo and Tom are trail hunting fanatics, travelling around the UK to find the best and most beautiful wild riding locations for their mountain bikes. We write about our findings and provide professionally guided mountain bike trips to our favourite spots. We're also big believers in outdoor education for children.