Last night we headed out on a night ride from Abbey Village. I took the Titus (whee) and it did feel like having a new bike. There were four of us, three lads and me. The temperature reading on the car said 6 degrees when we pulled up but the wind was strong and really deceptively cold. Lots of layers on.
Was nice to be on the Titus again. My legs still felt like they had Sunday's race in them, not sore but not lively either.
I got caught out by the Titus very early on when descending to the steep cobbles on Dean Lane. There is a bit of a kerb style water bar and I approached it too fast, I didn't realise how fast I was travelling as the Titus was just flattening the trail out. I'm not exactly sure what happened but I lifted the front to get over the kerb, as I was a bit too fast I think it hit the kerb and bounced me (not the bike though) right back. My bum was on the rear wheel and I almost let go of the left hand grip! No control what so ever.
Time slowed down as it does in these situations and I remember thinking it would be really bad if I came off. I had the sense to leave the brakes alone and managed to get up of the back wheel and in control just before it dropped steeply down to the right, I thought I was going straight on into...well I'm not exactly sure but I bet it wasn't a big spongy mattress.
There were a couple of diggers at the bottom of the climb to the Tower, obviously trying to sort out the trail damage. We decided that the steep way would be best as that had the least damage originally so probably the least digger activity. It was slow progress, it was really stodgy and there were a few channels and ruts that had to be negotiated. I had a spin out on some soft mud quite close to the start but manage to inch my way up the rest.
Its been a while since I've needed the bottom gear and a while since I've sat on the nose of the saddle for that length of time. The top section was really hard work as it was into a pretty strong wind. So I was riding in bottom gear, on the nose of the saddle, trying to keep the front of the bike down whilst trying to not get blown sideways by the wind, my bar light pointing everywhere but in front.
There are two water bars on the very last section of the climb, just below the tower that my back wheel spun out on but there was no way I was putting a foot down having gotten so close to the top. I kept pedalling and managed to keep going though I must have zigged all over the track, straight lines were in short supply.
A quick regroup at the Tower (I surprisingly wasn't last up the climb). Then off along the rutty track which was very, very, very soft and stodgy. Now narrow ruts and squidgy mud can be a challenging combination at the best of times but add in darkness so you can't see too far ahead and a strong crosswind trying to blow you off your bike and its gets very interesting indeed.
I managed to negotiate the ruts without parting company from the bike but the open track was stupidly soft, I was dropping gears to keep moving forward on a flat bit of track. Most of the puddles on here are quite shallow but I managed to find a hub deep one, had enough momentum to roll out of it but it was a bit of a surprise.
The last little bit of climb was slow going and Jez had ground to a halt in front of me as he slid out so I wasn't expecting to get much further but I almost managed to get up it, due to my lucky wheel slides that kept me going in the correct direction. My luck did run out and only Stu actually managed to ride it all and made it look easy!
We decided to go over the top rather than round the back, the top track wasn't too bad really then we dropped down to Ryal Fold. The track has a bit of damage from all the ice I think but the Titus zoomed over it. The last bit down to Ryal Fold was into the headwind again which meant lots of unfair pedalling.
We split company here from Stu who went off to do the cobbly descent and we headed down the shorter way as people wanted to get back home. A quick whizz down the easy track then a left turn to come into the bottom of the cobbly descent where Stu had headed off to. There is a big gate that you have to ride around and the line is over some (dry tonight) tree routes, I must have done it countless times but tonight I got it very wrong. One minute I was riding the next I was hugging the gate trying not to hit the deck!
I untangled myself and we headed off for the last cheeky section through the woods, I eventually noticed that the Garmin wasn't on the bars, bugger. I rode back to the gate and there it was lying underneath it.
The last bit through the woods was lovely, swoopy and fast but I hadn't finished with being a numpty yet! Almost at the end of the woods before popping back out on the main track you drop down two steps then up onto a little bridge. Again I've done it loads of times, just letting momentum take me up onto the bridge then pedalling off. This time I was onto the bridge no problem but when I tried to pedal off nothing happened, the rear spun a little and I wobble precariously towards the stream. Luckily there is a handrail on the left of the bridge and I lunged for that and managed to stop myself falling right.
Of course I was at the front and caused a bit of a traffic jam, when I looked at the bike my chain had dropped onto the granny ring at some point on the descent and it was in a stupidly low gear, as I was stood up when trying to pedal off the bridge it was too low and spun the rear.
I rode carefully back to the car.