Yesterday I was out guiding a group on a Leadership Programme over some of the ups and downs, forest trails and muddy tracks of the South Downs.
Apparently only the night before on their programme were they told that the options for the following day would be a tough mountain bike ride, a slightly easier route and something of a rambling treasure hunt on foot for a third group.
Hats off to Colin, Greg, James and Dave who chose to come with me on the tougher MTB route, despite their very limited experience of off-road cycling. Another guide, Stuart form the Adur Outdoor Activity Centre, led the second group.
My route involved hitting two pretty fiercesome climbs in just the first few miles: from Amberley up to the top of Bury Hill, swiftly followed by a drop down and leg sapping, lung busting Bignor Hill. We then had the great pleasure of whooshing down through Houghton Forest, big grins all round, before zigzagging our way to the final meeting point in Arundel.
For me it was good fun but a challenge - getting over some of the basics of riding mountain bikes to a group who were, initially at least, quite apprehensive and not particularly fit! And keeping it all moving in cold conditions, making sure they got to their check-in points, collected the tokens for their team challenge and still had a good time.
These guys did it - in the process showing some great team work, looking out for each other, quickly deciding how best to tackle the vaguely set task and that, no, they didn't fancy my suggestion of one last hill to climb.
I hope to be doing more work with Stuart and others at the Outdoor Activity Centre, helping each other out with rides and maybe between us offering a greater spread of new fun challenges.