Even thought it is not far away, I've never ridden the northern loop of the official Oosterbeek trail, either that, or it was so long ago that I don't remember. What a mistake!  We went there with the club this morning and it was really great. We did not get off to a good start, spending a lot of time faffing around mending a puncture; first we fitted a new inner tube, only to discover after pumping for a while that it was for a racing bike (how did we not notice that when putting it on?), then we tried to squeeze a 26 inch tube onto a 29"wheel (I had read it was possible, and maybe it was, but it was certainly a struggle), but before we had got that in place the original inner tube had been mended and we put that in instead. Finally we sort of pumped it up, but it must be said, not really enough so the person whose bike was had to work twice as hard as the rest of us, pedalling round a squishy wheel.

But once that was done, we set off under the tunnel (exciting, low enough that you have to duck and about 100 m long) and started on the trail. For the first few minutes I was thinking that it was not up to much, but then we turned off the cycle path and set off through a demanding twisty, slippy, muddy track through the woods.  Every so often we emerged onto a broad track to catch our breath, and then it was back into the woods again for another batch of curves. Great!  Mind you, it has been dry for ages now, and I dread to think what some of the damper patches might be like after some wet weather. After a bit the route calms down to some more relaxed tracks through pretty back ways and between double lanes of monumental trees.  There was even a stiff hill at one point (gradient about 15% and very slippery gravel under our wheels) to keep us on our toes.  More easy paths and then we arrived at Papendal (the national sports training centre), where our route went partly along the training MTB route there, and was suitably challenging.  But all too soon after that, we were back at the tunnel, and we could make our way back to Wageningen along familiar tracks again.

Close encounters of the mountain bike kind

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