In an unexpected departure to our recent period of hole digging on the final part of Tackeroo, this week we needed to make a maintenance visit to the Black Monkey following a credible report that the exits of some of the armoured sections and steps were wearing down and making the landings tricky to the point of over the bar acrobatics.
After a very delayed start due to some geezer with a white beard, a red suit and two reindeer (we have this problem with him parking in the wrong place every year), we set off. Although we were down a Jez, we had an extra Bruce and acquired another Phil plus Frank as the day went on so combined with Matt and James and a guest appearance by Abby we were pretty well crewed up.
Studying the hillside of the Black Monkey, it was interesting to reflect that it was two years ago that we were engaged on the massive effort that went into building the armoured sections, and the difficulties of moving big, heavy rocks down steep hillside obstructed by trees. In comparison today's rocks were smaller and more manoeuvrable, but the hillside just as steep tricky to use a rock-barrow on.
So Petra, CT's own rock-chick, split rocks with Martin, while Dave, Abby and new Bruce set about revising the end of Oblivion. Matt and James walked the trail trimming the edges and clearing the drain channels ready for winter. Andrew, Bruce, Frank, Liam and I set about revising the worn landing zone of a major rock step, but the ground turned out to be more taxing than expected when we discovered impenetrable sandstone that resisted all posts. Eventually lateral thinking prevailed and a larch riser was planted to act as the face of a new rock landing area. This has done nothing to reduce the technical challenge of this feature, if anything it seemed to me trickier than ever - not that I expect to find it a problem as I shan't be riding it!
As the rest of us packed up, Dave finished the day off by armouring the drop out of Toboggan with a quick rock shifting and bedding-in session before we finally decided it was time for tea.