DP's 50th

As the realisation that the biggest surprise was likely to be, that due to injury Darren would not come along on his weekend, the decision was made to check-in on him to ensure his fitness would allow for his family trip to be a MTB trip. Code name MTLII, the plans were all finalised with just the weather to sort. Friday night saw the Winebox loaded and the forecast checked and all was in place for an early start to allow Darren to realise that it wasn’t a wind up. A table for 18 please.
The first stop was already on Darren’s mental short list and as we headed towards Southend, he worked out that the Olympic course was the first venue. The blood was seeping from Clarks leg as we left the car park so we knew we were mountain biking and the sun was shining so we also knew we had the best conditions for this challenging course. And we were not disappointed, with a lap of the blue and two laps of the full course; with a mixture of the tough climbs, fast berms and tricky descents there was enough to more than challenge everyone. Need to go again.
Stop no2 was further south and we managed to get within 400 metres of Buckmore Karting before half century boy worked it out and stopped thinking he was going for the tunnel. The circuit and event were as awesome as expected, dry & fast to start with and then with a little rain, transformed it to a skid pan full of synchronized spinning karts, concentration constantly upset by fits of laughter, as you nudged, were nudged or just managed it on your own. And so with the formalities sorted and aching fore arms we whisked the birthday boy off, arriving at Box Hill one hour later, for the ascent up the Olympic road climb to the peak with its fantastic views of the Surrey hills. Before returning to the start, MTB style in a fifth of the time, on the promise of food. Having eaten our fill and fuelled by San Miguel, we headed in search of a place to rest til the morning and an early night. Luckily we were checked at midnight, which limited the consumption but the lack of brogues did not spoil the night. It has probably been a year since I laughed so much and this was only slightly marred by the lack of warning to study Darren’s departure, build up to speed and near perfect execution of his diving return from the toilets, luckily he did it again later. And who would have thought at 3AM that the hotel would have given us the job to distribute the lounge scatter cushions around the building, they must have known we had been drinking, luckily the laundry kart was on hand to attempt to collect them up later. Sorry about getting up late the next day.
When full of breakfast, but still slightly dazed we headed of to Swinley Forest, luckily it is so big and well laid out it did not matter that on such a cracking day, everyone else who had a bike was there. After an hour of parking and parking and preparation and Duncan’s coffee, we started out on the day’s adventure, it seemed like the trails went on forever, berm after berm, slightly firm on the arse but beautifully carved, (sounds like a fit woman) finally arriving at our favourite. It was a rooty, twisty, slightly down hill (sounds like one of us) section, just aching to be ridden again, so we did. And after repairing a couple of ill prepared riders’ bikes, we gloated and headed back along the miles of all weather single track, for a well deserved Coke or two. Shaky, slightly dehydrated start but one awesome day on the trail, need to go again.
More big surprises as Al arrived, bringing the numbers back up to 13 and the missing friends amusing tributes were played, before handing over some German car thingy thing gift and we headed out for a buffet, before drinking a load more liquids, slightly less than the quiet night, £15 check-in on the night club (without brogues) and bed.
Luckily with slightly more sleep and an on-time big-mans breakfast, the last surprise was..... we had Darren’s credit card all weekend, no not that one, the final part of the logistical challenge of up to 5 vehicles (and a train and bus), 13 bikes and a total of 20 friends & family, rolled into the 6th venue, the Mecca of motorsport, our near forgotten partial racetrack, officially half of the world’s first raceway, Brooklands. Once again the weather held on, helping to give us an inspiring, educational and really quite awesome place to spend a day, apart from all the lovely sirens. And of course Duncan and the light switch, which still makes me giggle.
Happy birthday Darren.

Oh I nearly forgot (Darren’s words from the week before – hope he doesn’t mind)
I've been packed and ready since Sunday.  Haven't slept properly since Wednesday-before-last.  About to burst with excitement. Can we go now please?

We hope it lived up to expectations – The Woodbridge Surfers -  Suspendisse semper

Barney taking homage from a prostrate youngster.

DH not sure if he's still a bit tipsy from the previous night

Captains DH & DB.  Everyone outside the plane feeling happy they're not inside with the disco lights
James Hunts

Eyebrow removal technique

Apparently this is his Tinder profile pic now.

Changing room

Lunch in Swinley.  The lunch that no-one wanted to carry, no-one had room to carry, until there was a danger of them not getting it & then they all found a bit of room in their rucksacks...

We all expected AM to do something a bit more spectacular than this.

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