A bit of last minute e-mailing found us agreeing to meet at Abbey Village at the usual time last night for a bit for spin. Weather was best its been in a while, not raining, pretty still but misty. Usual setting off faff and the usual suspect being late meant we set off at a slow pace until he caught us up!
The tracks were quite stodgy and my legs felt pretty tired, though I was expecting them to perk up a bit later as that's the way riding seems to be going for me at the minute, except they didn't. We rode along chatting for a bit and decided against the boggy fence track as judging by the state of the main trail it would be a mess.
We were all together by the time we headed out across the road towards Dean Lane, my legs were heavy as lead. As we set off down the descent I thought things were going dark! By the time I got onto the really bumpy cobbles I couldn't see much ahead, my front tyre and the ground underneath the bike was being illuminated in glorious detail though as my light had swung down on the bars (I didn't put it on I hasten to add).
No point stopping until the bottom but it did make it somewhat interesting as I couldn't see any of the waterbars/trail obstacles until I was almost on them, resulting in a lot of frantic attempts to lift the front wheel before I catapulted myself over the bars - as it turned out this would be a recurring theme for the evening!
At the edge of Earndale Res I sorted it as the others rode off ahead. By the time I'd finished their lights were no longer visible and it was very dark! I caught them up and we headed across the field to the bottom of the long climb to the tower. I set off onto the field and almost immediately nearly fell off as the back wheel slid. I managed to pretty much ride all the rest of it but it wasn't elegant and I was feeling quite weary. I rode the little drop out of the field badly and only just manage to haul my front wheel up to stop it stalling on a pointy rock, oh dear.
I was realising I was more than a little tired now so I thought I would put it in the granny ring and spin up the climb to the tower, about a minute after setting off I got bored with twiddling and put it back in middle ring (I cannot spin to save myself now!). The boys were riding at a pretty nice pace so I just tagged along behind. Some parts were very soft but it was generally ok.
Almost at the top where the track disintegrates and it gets interesting I managed to jam my back wheel in between two rocks and had to unclip, I knew that I was tired when I couldn't be bothered going back to ride it again. I felt like I used to at the end of a hard 30 mile Lakes ride, which was a bit worrying as we'd only covered about 4 miles.
I managed to get going again and rode the rest. We were now well in the mist, but it was drifting a bit so it would clear a little then mist up again. You could see the beam of lights really clearly. The upshot was you could make out the trail but not the detail, so more bouncing around off rocks but at least I managed to actually stay on. I had a gel at the top, then Ed offered round some tablet. The sugar boost really helped and I managed to get some concentration back.
Which was just as well because the next section was just porridge, slow, slow, slow. Lots of skidding and sliding and peering through the mist. I did somehow manage to find a completely clear and dry line up the last little rocky climb to the Witton Weavers Way. I normally can't do that when I can actually see!
We set off again and I manage to sail past Jez and Stu as they had ridden into a really soft rut while I took the higher line. It was great until I was dropping down and the mist meant I couldn't quite make out what the track was like. It was either a tyre track or a narrow tyre width rut, I decided it was a track but it wasn't. My front wheel clipped the edge but I managed to get a foot down before I tumbled off into the heather, hee hee. A bit of a push up and more slip, sliding over the top of the moor.
We decided to take the more direct track towards the road then onto the singletrack at Hollins Head Hall. The track was quite stodgy but off we went and the mist had cleared so visibility was excellent on the way down. It was still clear as we got to the singletrack past the Hall. Now, there is quite a bit of marsh grass at the side of the track and my light was reflecting off it like lots of little sparkles, I've seen it before and its fascinating.
So fascinating in fact I didn't notice the deepish, just wider than tyre width rut that had opened up in the middle of the track until I heard the noise of my front wheel sliding along the edge of it, oh b*gger. I got the rear brake on, tried to unclip, couldn't, braced for impact but then managed to pull the front wheel out and carried on my way....eejit.
I need to rememeber to get the camera out here but I do wonder if the light has to be moving to ge the full effect of the sparkles. One stodgy climb later and its time for the fast descent. The mist still seems to be sitting in this area so a combination of mist and mud/spray being thrown off the front tyre meant I couldn't quite see anything so I just pointed the bike downhill and hoped. I do remember it absolutely walloping off a large rock in the midle of the track, the front wasn't too bad but I felt the vibration from my back wheel hitting it all the way up my legs and back.
Last fast, swoopy section through the woods and then throw the bikes in the car and get some food from the Chinese then home. I'm normally a very slow eater but tonight I couldn't shovel it in fast enough, starving.