Cold Ride

Posted: October 20, 2011 in 2011, General

I knew it wasn’t going to be warm but the difference between this ride and a fortnight ago was startling. Whereas we had still been riding in short sleeves and shorts a mere two weeks back, tonight was like a slap around the face with a cold haddock. I had accepted the need for knee warmers, I had even gone so far as to put on a base layer, a buff, a long sleeve jersey and a gilet plus some (warmer than usual) gloves but as I started off I felt the chill, up my arms, between my knees and socks and well, just about everywhere where there was exposed skin.

Let’s get this straight, the temperature was not really that low but the first cool ride or two always take you by surprise. Anyway,the combination of wind behind me and fresh legs saw me flying down the road to meet Rich. As this was not one of our ‘normal’ nights the ride had to be a bit shorter than usual. Adapting one of our normal trails we hurtled round the northern outskirts and outlying villages of Bury. All was going well until Rich announced that we were going to be riding down by the river. My heart sank….’river root’ loomed and ‘the fear’ blossomed within my consciousness. Even in ideal conditions (like last night) this innocuous little root causes me distress.

Where the trail leads down towards the river, there lives a little root, maybe a couple of inches thick. It nestles in a small, off camber dip, happily living out its life doing no one any harm until I come along when it transforms into the biggest, gnarliest, most malevolent piece of slippery root on the planet. It lies in wait and, when I roll over it, moves heaven and earth to throw me off my line and into the river where it will force me down under the cold water into the frigid embrace of the mud and hold me there until my life spark is extinguished. Hmmm, a little melodramatic but the over exuberant use of hyperbole serves merely to illustrate the horror this small outcrop of wood causes me. It has never thrown me off and all I need do is roll over it and in an instant it will have gone. Well, it isn’t as easy as that and last night saw me bottle it once more and scoot over it, shame hanging over me like a rain cloud. I laughed, Rich laughed and I’m sure, as I rode away I heard a deep, subterranean chuckle from behind me! Moving on, safe from the root of death, Rich hauled on his brakes and there, from across the river, we maybe a dozen pairs of unblinking, green eyes, seemingly lit from within by ‘immulsion’ (one for the Gears of War fans). There were no lambent wretches, no hordes of locusts nor infected humans, it was a small herd of sheep wondering what it was that had disturbed their slumbers.

And so to Lackford Lane. I was on the front through Lackford, in the lead up to the challenge. Soon we hit the dusty, chalky entrance to the trail. Gear selected, I announced that I was not going to race and I’d see Rich at the top. He knew, and I knew this was a lie. Gear selected, I took the lead, reining back now and then to keep him where I could see him. Side by side we forged up the path, Rich complaining about the bumps (he was on an Anthem, I was on a rigid!) but it is all part of the game. Make out you are suffering, moan about the trail,complain about your bike, they are all acceptable tactics. As we rode, the speed increased and I could hear Rich breathing hard, I was in control, I could do it…then as if out of nowhere, my head butted in and informed me that was it, race over, go home, Rich has won. I eased off for a couple of seconds then, as advised by DT, tried again, got on Rich’s wheel and soon moved alongside. The only noise was that of tyres on gravel, small stones pinging off frames and that was it. Speed increased again and I knew I had moved into the red; we hit the tarmac and someone threw that switch again but Rich shouted ‘Come on, don’t give up’ so I kicked again but too late. At the end, Rich won by a couple of seconds but it had been tough. We agreed it would be a good section for hill repeats and promised to use it as the venue for a proper session when the weather was warmer.

Heading home, feet cold, fingers starting to get numb, we agreed what the ride had lacked in distance, it had made up for in effort and fun. So, the first cold ride tucked under our belts, it can only get easier (or colder) from here!

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