Thew Swift being out of commission (big hole in the tyre) it was the turn of Sir9 this evening. A cursory once over confirmed it was shiny and gleaming after its last wash, the chain was well lubed and I was ready to rock. At the allotted time I headed off down the road and it wasn’t until I met up with Rich and MM that I realised I had left my drinks bottle behind. A rapid diversion to Rich’s house and he loaned me a bottle. Off we went, and all was not well, I didn’t know quite what it was but something was amiss, it all seemed like jolly hard work and the handling was shot to bits. Reckoning I’d sort it out as the ride went on, we embraced the night and picked up pace. Conditions were ideal if, generally, a little warm.
One way or another, we have all been riding together for years now and know each other’s little foibles, idiosyncrasies and habits. Despite protestations to the contrary (the normal story whoever you ride with) you can tell when someone is making that extra little bit of effort and last night it was Mike. On one or two occasions he hunkered down and adopted the ‘I am trying but I’m not going to let you know I am’ pose. The subtle shifting up of gears, the little bursts of speed and an increased tempo of the swooshing noise of mtb tyres on tarmac. Well, on more than one occasion this pose was adopted – and there’s no point denying it! Rich and I both commented at the same time ‘he’s trying to put the hammer down’! No question of who was the form rider but equally there’s no question that he was out to prove a point!
Anyway, cock up number two…my perennial problem. The seat post had slipped. My knees weren’t up around my ears but it was certainly less than efficient. About a quarter of the way in I had had enough and called a halt to faff so while everyone else steamed up (and Mike let go of compressed air!!!) , I set to on the seat post. I guessed the right height (I was half blind too) and used the latest in hi tech anti slip agents…mud. The seat post was liberally smeared with mud and reinserted and we resumed our ride.
The temperature variation was considerable last night, some times we were positively hot, only to turn a corner, ride into a dip and hit freezing fog. This happened all night and was usually greeted by (loud) groans of dismay from Rich. Crossing the road, we passed from one block of forest to another, chatting merrily as we went. The archery club passed behind us and ahead stretched a long section of undulating fire road. Here the pace quickened a little and bit by bit the chat petered out. A mile or so down the road and the previous atmosphere of levity was replaced by grim silence as we all tried hard but refused to let anyone else think we were suffering. Mike briefly commented on the silence but to no avail, it pressed down on us like a blanket and so we continued. Maybe 500 yards from the end my resolve broke first and I sat up a bit, allowing Rich and Mike to duke it out for the honours. Crossing the road once more, we hurtled down the normal trails but I was still finding handling difficulties and called a halt. The trouble was tyre pressure – I had tried running them soft the last time out and hated it, I had just forgotten to re-inflate them. A rapid pump and back to normal (more or less), we rode some of the trails north of West Stow and headed back. Lackford Lane is where Mike always tries the hardest and he pulled off the front quite convincingly. I stayed with Rich until we crested the hill, legs really tired for a change. Then we headed home.
Next time I need to prepare better, check saddle height, tyre pressure, are my drinks on board etc etc. Anyway, it was a good ride, average moving speed of 15.1 mph and a tad over 30 miles ridden.