They stuck me in an institution,
Said it was the only solution,
to give me the needed professional help,
To protect me from the enemy,
Did i say i normally do sundays?it's my anniversary tomorrow ,so i got a special dispensation for a saturday ride.Route was a fairly normal up and over type thing,i.e. up the pike and over the mast.Around 10 or 11 miles from the car park at the barn.If the route was normal though,the ride turned out to be far from it.
We arrived at the carpark around 8.15 expecting a bit of faffing.Chris was right behind us and Dave was already there as he'd ridden over from his place in Egerton.The weather was forecast bad,but what do they know?It was abit chilly/damp,but not Tooo bad .Chris was demo-ing the Commencal meta(how very dare he )which meant i was on the GT Avalanche 2.0.I hadnt ridden that before and it felt a bit funny at first.It's a medium ,which is a bit small for me (I'm 6.0'),but chris looked OK on the Meta.
We set off,post faff,and headed up to the pike via the gardens.We soon warmed up climbing the corkscrew.It's a top secret illegal footpath that is only open to pedestrians ,but luckily they were all in bed.I resisted the urge to take off a layer thinking it would be a few degrees cooler on top and i was right.It was a bit chillier/damper than at the car and i was glad of the extra pair of braces i'd put on.The GT was good.Stiff ,responsive .the usual cliches.A bit light on the front,i'd stick on some bar-ends,but then I'm old school.The climb up to the pike is a good benchmark climb and it felt good.I didnt bother to lock-out the fork just sit and spin.I had a spot of bother with the gears though,which is probably due to a 'sticky 'cable.Clearly a case for 'winterising'.
We all made it up to the pike in one piece ,with Dave clearing his nemesis 1st corner,and admired the view--of my hand at the end of my arm.It was grim.Like winter .And it's only December.A stiff breeze hit me sideways as i popped out from behind the shelter of the pike and i set up for the drop 'off the back'.Time to test the pikes other benchmark.Once again I have to say the GT was good.It certainly didnt feel like a 400 quid bike.The light front end uphill ,disappeared ,to reveal it's downhill character.It really did feel ace.And the tektro discs were ace too.One finger and loads of control,and the tyres,i have to mention the tyres. kenda nevegals.Ace.I've never ridden them before,big steve rates them and i have to agree.Tough treads.In summary,ace.Chris got down to the gate on the meta and exclaimed that he'd hit a big drop that normally would have had him off ,but that the meta saved his life.Well that's a fair endorsement then.
Next bit,Wilders moor to the mast road.Slog.Tyres good .Gears acting up a bit .Got to the mast,weather forecast turns out to be fairly accurate.Sleet in ears+30mph wind ,not good,but perversely enjoyable .Just about.Who am I kidding , I love it. Sainsburys 'taste the difference' cookies performed as well as expected.
The downhill over the back of the mast into Belmont is always a good un and today didnt dissappoint.Gusting from the right nearly had me in the ditch on the left ,but once again the GT played a blinder.It's not that it climbs bad , far from it ,but it goes down so well.it's obviously not as 'easy' as a susser, or as fast i guess,but with 'yer weight back ' it feels rather nice.And the forks had stopped working.Hmm.Ok ,it's a 400 quid bike.Too tough a test?The conditions though were as bad as i've ever seen.Proper proper cold ,wet,and windy,and proper snow now too.It cant have been much more than freezing but with the windchill felt much much colder.Even more perversely though,we all seem to enjoy it , re-grouping at the bottom with big (frozen)grins.
Dave headed off home with an offer of coffee.How bad an idea would that have been?We'd have had to ring for a taxi back over the hill.No rest for the wicked,this is where the tour is won,eh Lance.
We turned right at the Black Dog and headed up ,back over ,heads down into the biting wind,not too far now.A mile or so of tarmac then it's a left onto the belmont rd bridleway back to the pidgeon tower.This was tasty.It can be hard work in this direction at the best of times ,but into a force ten freezing gale it was dead good.I was banking on some shelter from the hill which came about half way round ,providing a bit of respite .Positively tropical.It soon returned though reminding us who's boss. Bloody Michael Fish.
We pulled up at the pidgeon tower to lower our seats for the last real drop of the day,The 'Ice cream run'.I've not been down it for a while but i still had an advantage over danny and Chris as they were trying it for the first time.So I filled them in on the points of note at which point they both mentioned that both their back brakes had ceased to work .Well,what can you do?If you dont use your brakes they last forever you know.The weather didnt seem quite as bad here now,which was good because as usual the ice cream run** is different every time you ride it .The first corner had eroded that much it now requires a 'jump' into it . Brill.It's such a nice downhill though , isnt it ?
OK ,so ,5 mins back to the car,half ass attempt at the wallride in the carpark,hyperthermia,button mushroom,you get the picture.11.00.About 2 and a half hours then.
Good good good.
* punk poetry,Mike Muir,Suicidal Tendencies,'Institutionalized'.
**Answers on a postcard......
UPDATE: I work with the other 3 lads. It's been a few days ,but it's all we're talking about.It's just mad.Another half hour of that and Danny would've been done for.
Dont let that put you off.........