Longer evenings and dry tracks seem to eat up the trail miles and with more and more riders we seem to need to ride quicker too.
At first in the dark some of the new stuff was taking fifteen minutes to thread down, now nine minutes seems to be the maximum.
And as everyone seems to getting better and better we really need more and more trails to keep the Thursday night ride different and fresh.
I rode off at the back with Graeme who waited as I had to adjust my saddle. He now rides with an air of confidence knowing that all the twists and turns and obstacles are within his comfort zone. He still likes hills though.
I went up the grass bank beside Rich who seems to have an extra gear recently with new forks transforming his race bike into a trail steed. He still skips and hops and seems to be improving his wheelie skills too.
Like a little bunch of huskies straining at the front a few wheels stretched ahead but we gathered up at the ridge and slipped onto a trail. Instead of slow and careful these are becoming thrash and bash but the roots are still slippery and would catch out a few before the night was out.
Into the ‘soon to be bluebell’ run I run second last with Nick. His Trek seems good on these trails being very nimble and he seems to improve every week. He is not pushing himself recklessly just getting a little better every time. I love the entrance line of this as it is narrow and twists. I duck the tree branch, round a corner or two and over the little roller and my chain falls off. By the time it is back on and I look up everyone has disappeared.
Wait for me.
I ride the roller and my chain falls off. I put it on again and just clear the big front log on the big log roll. I look up.
Wait for me.
I catch up at the end of the trail as everyone has waited. Mike dives in with Mark on video behind. Mike will thrash this but Mark will keep up easily because he has four legs.
Nik is in front and trying too hard. Brave and fast into every single twist and turn with old forks and lots of clunks. After multiple hits he eases off a little and goes much faster and I have to pedal to keep up. We head for another trail.
James rides alongside quietly and we talk as we ride. He has improved the most of all of us but riding without a helmet light hindered him in the beginning so his new light was worth it.
Steve loves speed, loves jumping and will eventually conquer all the slow twisty stuff. He tried a big jump. I shouted on Mark who came back with his video to record the second go. Yup, that was a big jump. And he made it look so easy. And I will never be able to do that.
But maybe Brian can as he seems to be able to do everything, uphill and downhill fast and slow. I make a mental note for next time to stop at this point.
Another trail. Then another trail. Graeme did not have a puncture. He just changed some old air for some new air so not a puncture then.
We headed for another trail. Neil, with his leg bandaged, has been tanking it the twisty stuff downhill but as we head upwards he has some sick in his mouth.
I head uphill into another new trail behind Rich. He rolls backwards towards me as normal but I am ready for this and do not fall off this time. Mike complains behind.
We pop out at the end eventually as it seems longer this way. Another up then another trail. Then at some point a steep downhill which I miss as I have no back brake and I would never stop so I roll around the side trail and Mike promptly pedals back up. I am behind Rich. As usual he freezes and balances at the top but before he can roll back towards me I wobble round the inside.
Another new trail. Neil gets spun down by a small hidden branch. Nik tries to hop over it slowly after Neil has picked himself up and crashes to the ground. He leaps up and jumps into the saddle and promptly catches a tree and rips his shirt sleeve. Sore wrist and sore arm = game over. The rest finish the trail as I head back slowly along the fire road with Nik until the others finish and catch up to ride back with him.
I head for the carpark on my own. I do not see any lights.
Wait for me.