Shift your arm then you pull it back,
Life's hard you know (oh whey oh) "
Cold today . Damp and cold . First winter ride ? Could be . It was wet and boggy last week , but it wasnt cold like this .
Met Dave and Gareth at the usual ,and headed up the usual , as usual . I'd meant to set off a little different , down then up , but we were halfay up towards the gardens before I remembered.
So then .
We bump into Matt on his magic singlespeed near the Pidgeon Tower and chew the fat for a few minutes with him as a bunch of guys ride past . They're heading around the moor towards the Belmont Rd and so are we , so in a few minutes after barrelling down the rough path , we catch them up . They're heading up over Spitlers , same as us , and so we make a group of it . I dunno , maybe 12 of us as we're lifting our bikes over the first gate and on up the slippy climb .
We soon line out up the hill. It's a slippy tough climb at the best of times in the best of weather , but today it's fairly all slippy , with wet grass , punctuated with boggy bits , interspersed with grease. And some blancmange .
What ensues are a few comedy moments as riders struggle for grip , but this culminates in quite simply the best ' off ' I have ever seen . And I've seen some .
I've been up here more than a few times , but I would'nt say I intimately know every bit . Riding across the moorland there's a sense of drama as you approach a boggy bit . Looking for cues , other tyre marks or footprints , you can gauge if it's going to be rideable , or eat you up . It's a 50:50 thing. Some you win . And then...
I was up front and as I approached a bit I know to be very boggy I hesitated to scope it . In drier weather it can be rideable ,but 9 times out of 10 it's a boggy mess. As I'm just weighing it up , and thinking of erring on the side of caution , one of the lads , the group whippet , comes alongside me , says something or other about having a go , and drops in .
His front wheel literally disappeared up to the fork crown and he was thrown over the top , no stopping it , and he landed with a splaat , face first in the stinkiest evil gloop .He wouldnt hang around in there long enough to let me get my camera out .
MOORLAND WAS SERENE
So , we carry on . Initially we're riding with the group . It doesnt so much dry out , but on the top there seems to be slightly , only slightly less deep gloop . Catching up after taking the above pix I ride along the line of a demolished drystone wall , that whilst still tricky makes for a lot better progress. As I catch up the lads near the front I'm aware that I'm wet down my left side . My camelbak ( copy ) bladder is leaking from the tube and I'm getting Redbull ( copy ) all over the gaff. So I retrieve my Leatherman ( copy ) and tighten it up to stem the flow . After all this faff , Gareth gets a slippy grip and the group of lads continue on . But we can still see them . Halfway along the top of Spitlers Edge the boggy 'path ' abruptly ends and is replaced with a few miles of stone slabs . Pavers laid end to end , rolling up and down acroos the moors to Great Hill . Some of the slabs are a bit edgy , and the one thing you need to watch out for are snakes. The kind that bite tyres . Up ahead the guys are stopped now and gathered round one of the riders . We catch them up . One of them has flatted , a snakebite on a blunt edge slab , and is in the middle of fixing it . We carry on towards Great Hill . A bit of a grind up to the last bit , but the slabs make it very do-able .
We did'nt see the lads again except in the distance over on the slabs. We had a few minutes on the summit and then headed down over towards Wheelton .
I do keep saying how good the Cannondale Rush is ,corporate whore that I am , but it is . Good . On a ride like this it's very near to the perfect tool for the job . Just over 4" at the back is about spot on . The downhill off Great Hill is a cracker and a good test . Heading this way the slabs only run for a 100 mtr , or so , and then as the path drops away , steep water bars come up quick and hard . The trail sweeps and turns , over the gate of reduced fun ,gotta stop , and then on.
I rode up here last week and mentally made a note of this next section . It's a fairly hard packed gravel surface , but , probably due to heavy rain off the hill ,a channel has been cut in . It snakes lazily from one side to the other , all the way until the path flattens out and it requires a generous amount of English to work the bike . Really good . Fast and techy too.
We ignore the obvious path to our left to White Coppice and head on over the moors . More gravel , a few sandy corners , I shoot off ahead , ' big ringing it ' to get a few more pix as we leave the moors .
And then I've got a puncture .Pinch . Damned snakes . Doh ! I like tyres , me . You should try riding without them . Anyway , the ongoing saga of the Conti ' MTN Kings , goes on . They've been OK today . Ish . On the boggy bits they seemed to be OK . It was that wet and boggy though it's hard to be objective. On the long run of hard slabs from Spitlers to Great Hill , though , it's very nearly a different story . I was'nt playing to the gallery ( as I might usually ) shouting out on one of the slab bridges as the front end was squirming away from me. I cant make my mind up if it's the sidewalls that are flexi ( they are thin ), or the tread blocks that are squirmy ( they are soft ) , OR if it's a bit or lot of both .You can discount flex from the 'dale . There's none . Like I keeeeep on saying , I'd have the verticals . On a bike like the Rush , or any 4 " er , you can get up a fair lick of speed and you want something that's going to do the biz.
We snick into the woods above Wheelton , inflated , past the first walker in ages ,and head on techy singletrack before dropping down the MiniBC rollercoaster to the edge of the woods at the White Coppice end . Another great downhill over too quick on the too good Rush.
Lance and Vino ,in between shaving their legs , briefly mention a swift tarmac exit back to the caff , but after a prod realise how ridiculous this sounds .
We head along the hidden valley towards The Goit , joined by Ian who's up here on a map reading exercise and isnt exactly lost. He follows us along the very techy narrow path . I slip a pedal and bang my shin . Exquisite. It seems a bit techier than the last time I rode it . The low BB on the Rush that's good for stability is a trade off in pedal grabbing situations like this . Ah well .
Ian heads up the 17% road climb , and we go the other way towards the Nab. Over the main Nab path , and down the other side.Past the farm , turn at the Yew Tree , and then up the short climb on tired legs for the final downhill past the Yarrow Res'.
You can virtually smell the bacon.