Two Thursdays

Two reports from two different Thursday  night rides

Turning up in the car park to a varied mix of riders I was a touch disappointed not to see any bouffant hair and talking cars, surely anyone born in the 70’s expects this for a (k)night ride(r)….

A bunch of 14 headed off in to the woods with lights blazing for some nice swoopy singletrack before cutting through the uni and into some more twisty sections of ups and downs.

I know some of the trails in this area reasonably well but following through what seemed to be an endless mixture of fast, swoopy, technical, dry, rooty, jumpy and large obstacle laden trails I was completely disorientated and absolutely loving the added excitement of the torch lit trails.

Towards the end of the ride I got some much appreciated tuition from Ronnie, who having built many of the trails was able to introduce me to a new more flowing style of riding, trying whole sections without pedalling and minimal braking with only one or 2 minor tumbles! I was well pleased to get over the big ladder first time, plunging in to a dark shadow from 4ft up was so much fun, if a little scary!

I’ll certainly be back, what a great way to spend a dark winter evening!

Turning up in the carpark to nobody. The cars had a heavy covering of snow and were going nowhere. Everybody must be riding in. I cannot be the only one to want to ride in the snow. I was early, that must be it.

I had cold toes the previous week so I felt the snow justified changing to winter boots and pulled out my Lakes, long socks, long trousers (Gore Windstoppers), lots of layers and fleece gloves. I though a short warm up was called for so attempted to ride off the tarmac onto the grass. Nearly managed it just need more commitment. More speed carried me off the snowploughed black stuff into the white stuff and promptly submerged. I could see my feet but only at the top of the pedal stroke; it seemed deep. I warmed up around the car park instead.

Neil arrived fresh from his snow exploits of the previous evening with the confidence of a semi pro. We waited a little but no cars or riders appeared so we headed off. Neil noticed the extra depth of snow within about a foot, as it was an extra foot and implied it might be a little more difficult than he had suggested. I could hardly pedal. Neil attempted to ride up a slope. Neil decided to ride the familiar path instead.

I had left on the Trailrakers so I could gain traction deep down but if I hit something lumpy I veered off course and despite my many fruitless attempts it was impossible to avoid careering around in wide circles. I tried following Neil’s tracks but that only partially worked. We attempted to race to the top of the trails and imitating the tortoise rather than the hare we made it in less than an hour with less than fifty stops. I had already started eating an energy bar as the it seemed like endless toiling.

We made a fist at riding some of the familiar trails and managed two. Just two. Well I managed two.   I tried one obstacle despite my riding partners incredulity. I did not manage the top but walked over the rest to leave the impression that it was possible to ride it. Smugly he rode off in front and then promptly went off piste. I think he rode some and snow-waded the rest. So he only gets almost two. We did ride one trail where riding second allows your riding buddy to clear the snow off the laden branches for you.

We fought our way back down the fire road with no lights just for fun but the reflected light was enough to see clearly.

Almost two hours of effort but  I had great company for a great ride and everyone else missed it.



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