Well that was interesting! After a slightly muddy recci ride the weather forecast promised a hot sunny week... excellent I thought, much of the mud would dry up and make for an enjoyable ride. And all was good right up until 11pm on Friday ... when we had one of the most awesome thunder storms I've seen since I was a kid! It was fun to watch however I needed to get some sleep badly having not got enough all week ... 11.30 I hit the hay and the heavens duly opened and dropped a huge amount of water over night. Trying to be optomistic, whilst falling asleep to the sound of heavy rain pounding down on the neighbours conservatory and the kids toys in the garden, I imagined that dry parched earth soaking up all the rain fall ... in the hope that the trails would be now worse than last weekend... 7.45am the alarm goes off, I dont want to wake up ... its Saturday and the inlaws have my daughter, my brain says wake-up but my body says NO! Theres a twinkle of sunlight through the blinds and I need to get up, kicking the duvet aside along with an unexpecting cat I swing my legs out of bed avoiding the other cat. A peek out the blinds confirms it wet, very wet ... though with sunshine and some blue sky, so I'm still holding out hope for the trails. I get my gear together and make the couple of mile ride over to Upton just in time for registration close and rush to the start line with a minute to spare. The first quarter of the route is pretty much as it was before. ©SportSunday The places that were really muddy last ride were REALLY muddy this time. Hell, there was every kind of mud you can imagine, from "I cant see the tops of my rotors deep milkshake brown water (which stank of cow crap) to sticky thick clay and chalk mud that weighs the bike down and has you slipping loads as it clogs your tyres tread completely ... and then, then there is the Swamp of Sadness. Thats the new name I have given the wooded area about three quarters of the way round the route. I didnt take my camera with me as its a bit big and clumsy to just whip out for snaps and kinda I wish I'd stopped to take a photo on my phone, but then I dont think a photo could do it justice and I really couldnt be bothered either, as by then I was starting to regret signing up for the Endurance ride. The Swamp of Sadness is at around 35miles, that point when your knackered, already sick of the challenges of riding in, on and through mud, that point when you just want to get your head down and get through the last 10miles ... but no. Instead there is one full mile of unavoidable soul destroying moral crushing energy (was there any left?!?!) sapping swamp like trail. Gullies between walls of near unrideable mud, axle deep with a slurry of water and mud each hiding roots and rocks benith the murky surface. And all you can do try to get you line in the slippery mud before entering, pedal and hope you make it through. I'd have stopped and taken a photo ... but just like the Never Ending Story, I'd have succumbed to the depression and sunk into the Swamp of Sadness, never to be seen again. Thats enough about mud though. Once through the Swamp of Sadness things got a bit easier as the riding was mostly gravel and grass track, a couple more climbs and descents and the finish was literally round the corner. Crossing the finish line to claps and cheers was pretty kool though and made me feel like I'd achieved something good rather then just about managing drag my ass to the finish. The great thing about Uptonogood is when you do make it to the finish, there food, beer and music waiting for you ... made all the more better by the sun breaking through the overcast sky! I'll definitely be going next year. 7 Bean Chilli is a winner! Food, Music & Beer ... in which ever order you prefer!