The folk from Chase Trails had been busy in our abscence. First up was a slightly different start to Follow the Dog. Ricky took the lead and set a fast pace through the first couple of sections. At the bottom of the fire road climb layers had to be removed as it was warmer than we thought. We took the alternative singletrack climb to the right. The trails were bone dry which made the rooty entrance easier than usual.

The busy car park was reflected out on the trail; there were loads of riders having a rest at the top of the climb. We had a brief one ourselves before taking the old descent and fire road climb to re-join the marked route.

After we crossed the railway and road Steve offered up the challenge of trying to get through the motor bike barrier without getting off our bikes. After watching him do it Ricky and I both decided not to bother! It just looked bloody awkward! After his initial "race pace" Ricky was now struggling on the climbs and had dropped to the back. Steve and I stopped for a quick attempt at the skinny off to the side of the trail. While we failed to do it Ricky pedalled through. On the next fast descent Steve got a corner wrong and went off the trail He stayed on but it was a bit of a brown trousers moment for him!

I was upfront when we got to the part of the trail that included the original Monkey "test" trail from before the Monkey Trail was built. Along this was a new sign giving a black option. Obviously I took that option with Steve close behind. He was just saying that it "wasn't much of a black" when he hit the first drop and shut up quick! The trail actually consisted of most of the original "test" trail we used to ride years ago but with some new rock gardens and corners added in. One tight left hander into a rock garden had me dabbing and having another failed attempt too. In the end I just went from a standing start having not mastered the corner. Next time! The others' attempts were similar and I got some photos of them rolling the rocks and steps. Further down my memories of the original trail helped with the couple of little drops that are still there. At the end were some new switchbacks up to re-join the normal red trail. I was glad of my uppy downy seatpost on this section.

Back on familiar territory we climbed before taking our usual singletrack down hill detour. This was a bit wet and we got spattered in mud for the only time during the day. At the bottom the new trail opposite the exit was open so we checked out more of the trail builders good work. Crossing the next fire road we stopped for a photo of me riding a bridge and had a laugh with a load of other riders who were flying down the fire road and mostly missing the right turn onto the trail resulting in some comedy crashes.

The Upper and Lower cliff descents were enjoyed as much as usual and I was glad I had fitted a new tyre to the hardtail the night before for some traction on the black rock gardens on the Upper cliff. I suggested maybe doing the Lower Cliff again but the other two didn't fancy it so we headed back across the road to finish Follow the Dog.

On the way back one short section was closed for maintenance. Judging by the damage to some of the other sections the trail builders are going to have to do quite a bit of this. At times I was wishing I was on the full suss as we hit Morzine-esque braking bumps in some places. We still all arrived at the end grinning from the fun though.

After a quick look round the shop we headed off for a pint on the way home. A good day out. We ought to do it more often.