An ennead of riders took to the trails on the last night ride of the year with everyone hoping for a fast, dry ride. I had arrived early and already ridden some of the trails and found the climb a slog and some of the trails saturated. Hopes for dry trails were about to be dashed immediately on the first climb.
It was a slow, muddy climb even on the fireroad so perhaps the suggestion of climbing up the singletrack should have been accepted. The dew pond still looked frozen in the dark as we passed but the ground was squelching from the thaw. It seemed as if we had the place to ourselves probably because we had the place to ourselves. Apart from some hoofprints from a lone horse the place looked unused for days.
Only managed two of the jumps in the air and nearly stopped twice, pedalling and squirming in the mud. Luckily I managed to block everyone behind me. As my handle bar light had fell into the usual emotional huff at being turned on I was relying on my helmet light and a half used battery and beginning to struggle to see anything of the trail ahead. After two attempts we found the Witches Table and nobody had pulled a log this week so it was rideable but slippy. I got lost at this point as my 3000 candlepower helmet light had dimmed to about one. I followed the tail of the group through another trail “riding within the limit of my lights” as we used to say. This no longer applies if Jimbo is behind you as he utilises the output of a small lighthouse to cheat and ride in the daylight instead.
At the end I changed the battery and everyone else fumbled behind Neil. Quality Street. On the outside pocket of his packback.
Another trail that challenged all our tyres – there must be something that copes with mud and roots….
Climbing, climbing, climbing. Lumps and bumps.
“lets ride around this very dry trail!” Really muddy – as it had been almost ploughed by car wheels. Back into the dry of the tree cover. Not dry.
Slip, slide, catch, hope etc. but still fun. We had got spead out a little so re-grouped and agreed to head ever downwards. We had some turns about leading the group and everyone who went to the front seemed to find an extra gear to hustle throught the twists and turns. On one trail I pedalled the whole thing, even the corners, never braked and barely held on. We were going downhill the whole way as well.
For my New Year resolution, I will definately ride more often, and get fitter, and lose weight and…
A short loop around the ridgeline and a final trio to the bottom with an alternative finish to the usual. This strung us out a bit so as we reached the bottom the first rider turned for home. The remainder of us trundled back to the cars trying to spin the mud from our wheels. Unsuccessfully.
I had clipped an inexpensive camera to my shoulder strap as a trial. From the pictures either a really big flash or a different camera may be required for night riding but anyway preserved for posterity my last ride of the year.
So at the end of the year thanks to everyone who guided, organised, rode lead, rode tail, marshalled, built, repaired, took photos or videos, wrote a ride report, reviewed a bike or helped in any way.
And to everyone who rode with us, thanks for coming along.
Bliadhna Mhath Ur