Got rather drenched on this evenings ride and windswept. Things didn't start off promisingly as I got a text from Pam saying she'd forgotten her lights. Jez decided he wasn't riding as he had too much other stuff to do so I offered Pam Jez's lights. She had all the rest of her stuff so she would meet us at Rivington, possibly a few minutes late.
Us turned out to be Stu and I, no one else wanted to come out - can't imagine why! Pam turned up almost on time and we got setting bikes up etc. I did warn Pam that Jez hadn't charged his lights since last weeks ride so there was probably only about an hour and a half or so burn time in them. This wasn't really a problem as due to the wind we had decided not to go up to the Pike, we would try to stay on some of the more sheltered tracks.
It was deceptively sheltered near the barn but it was pretty cold, I was wondering whether I should have worn full length tights rather than 3/4 lengths. It wasn't raining when we set off and headed out to the Nab. I think the first shower started as we hit Heapey Fold Lane and passed some runners. Not sure I would be out running in shorts and tee-shirt with no headtorch in the dark on a minging, freezing night. However as I was out cycling on said night I couldn't really criticise.
Pam didn't want to do the drops in the dark, she told us to ride ahead and she would wait for us on the track, so Stu and I kicked it up a few gears and passed the runners and headed straight into the Nab. The tracks were slippy, I had a few rear wheel slides, some I managed to ride out and a couple I didn't. I do like the way the combination of riding with lights and very wet tracks makes everything a challenge again on tracks I know well.
I nearly came a cropper approaching the last drop, there was a boulder in the middle of the track. I'm not exactly sure what happened but I got my front wheel over it ok but it seemed to get caught up in the back wheel and stall me and throw me forward. I think I may have knocked it a bit with the front wheel but I managed to stop before I rolled over the drop practically lying on my handlebars. I pushed up to a smooth bit of track and then rode down again.
As I rode away from the last drop I remember thinking to myself how surprisingly dry and firm the track was. It didn't stay that way for long and next thing I knew both wheels were trying to head off in opposite directions. A bit of concentration needed.
It was like that all the way round the Nab, one minute firm the next minute rally soft. The rocks stayed consistently slippy at least though. We met up with Pam again and carried on. I had suggested trying out the track along the side of Anglezarke rather than riding up the steep road hill to the moor, it would be less exposed.
As we were riding along the track the rain really started lashing and it seemed to be settling in, there were a couple of lightning flashes as well. The track was good in that it was reasonably sheltered but I think it would ride better in the other direction (though it may just be because I was being useless). We carried on to the bottom of Lead Mines and up the short steep road hill there towards the ICR. There was a lot of standing water at the bottom but I ploughed through it and made the climb count and I hadn't ridden the proper climb.
At the top we were quite exposed and for the first time I started to feel cold - I was absolutely soaking by this time though. We kept going but everytime I looked back to check on Pam I got a face full of rain, nice.
We set off up the easy climb to the pigeon tower, we spotted a gaggle (troop? tribe?) or whatever the collective noun is for a large group of mountain rescue people is. Stu and I speeded up to get passed them then waited for Pam at the clearing. We discussed what we wanted to do next. Going up to the Pike was outbut we thought we could ride up to the pigeon tower then continue along the lane to the top of the Commonwealth descent and ride down, even though it would be into the wind and rain.
As Pam approached us she said her light was fading and it was starting to yellow. That made the decision for us, straight on to the Commonwealth descent then back to the car before her light cuts out completely. Pam did suggest that we headed up to the top of the descent and she would carry on for a bit and we would catch her up. However, we explained that HIDs don;t really fade, they cut out and we didn't want to leave her in the dark on her own.
I set off down the descent first, having a lovely Roman Candle effect from the mud flying up off my front wheel. My eyes were full of crap as well, I have new clear lenses but I didn't wear them as I'm being a bit precious about them being scratched. I got to the bottom, suprised Stu hadn't come flying past me in his usual style. Then they rolled into view, he was helping guide Pam down as her light wasn't great. Which is what I should have done as I have the most powerful light!
We headed back towards the barns and the car and not long after leaving the descent Pam's light cut out completely, I'm glad we insisted on taking her back. The L & M HID actually gave about a 15 minute warning it was about to die, my old HID used to flash blue at the switch area about 5 seconds before it cut out, not fun on a fast descent.
The temperature had really dropped and I wished I'd put my hat in as my hair was really wet. It's not a proper night ride unless a hat and a down jacket/gilet goes on afterwards. I had the down gilet, lovely and warm.