Sunday 4th Jan 2009

A nostalgic look back in anger, the pain is still there!

Well, you win some, you lose some. A fool and his blood are soon parted. A rolling Gollum gathers no moss.

First official ride of the New Year, Sunday 4th January 2009 saw a decent turnout of riders eager to shake off the Christmas Blues. The guest list for today was as follows: Arthur, Craig, Ian M, Jason, Jon, Keith, Tim and Terry K. Arthur very kindly provided the second set of wheels and we got away from Holystone in record time at 08:40. Yes, WITH Jason! And yes , WITH Keith as all previous attempts at planning his inclusion on this trip had failed, for one reason or another. Today he was bikeless but not to worry, as he’d arranged a demo ride on a Santa Cruz Nomad up at the Hub bike shop.

A reasonable cruise over to Glentress saw us arrive at about 10:45 (I think) after getting stuck behind a few Sunday drivers at the far end. Waiting in the car park were Dave R and his original riding buddies. We must have started the ride around 11ish but we didn’t get very far before disaster struck Arthur’s hitherto reliable Decathlon Rockrider when it 

dumped it’s chain on Stage Two of the Red climb up to the Buzzard’s Nest car park! While Jon and Arthur set about the fix, with Arturo lamenting the fact that his newly-arrived chain was still boxed up in his boot a few hundred feet below, the 

rest of us looked on while trying to stay 

not-too-cold on a very pleasant but very cool morning in Heaven. As usual, the car parks were busy and there were riders and walkers everywhere. Minutes later we were off to complete the climb before stopping for a short rest in the Nest while Jon sampled the lower reaches of the Freeride area. None of us were tempted by the Wall Ride, thank goodness.

Off we trolled again to the start of the Fun Runs with Craig plunging down into Pennel’s Vennel before the back end had finished the climb. 

Another rest followed with 
Jon sampling the Nomad and comparing it with his OnOne hardtail! Dunno if you’ve seen Craig in action, he being one of the newer members, but he’s already started to extend the MidAirCrisis Dictionary with two brand new entries – MidAironaut and MACrobat. I’ll try to demonstrate why later, although if you look at the last Kielder trip he’s the one off the ground everywhere (clue).

Before I proceed as far as my poxy memory will permit, here’s something I DO remember, a recent snippet from our Blog:

Saturday, 3. January 2009
“Hello, only me. Just had Ian B on the phone, he was at Glentress yesterday – he almost lives there. Icy fire roads and invisible ice patches on some trail sections. Could be dodgy. Emma, the girl who’s run the place for the last 5 or 6 years, a very competent rider, also rang Ian this morning to tell him they had a broken wrist job yesterday, due to the ice.”

Well, I only mention that because wisdom comes only from age and experience. Fact, proven time and time again since Gollum was an amoeba. Why then did I not listen to Ian’s sound, accurate advice? Coz I’m thick, that’s why. That, and I was sort-of committed out of my splendid sense of fair play. Good for me then, eh? BUT – what happens to thickies? They make sure they’re away first from the top of that incredible, world-famous, adrenalin-pumping Spooky Wood Descent. So that they can hop off and get some pics of their mates flying down the magnificent Alice-in-Wonderland spiral chute. Or so that Keith, immediately behind with that embarrassment-encouraging video camera strapped on his bonce, can gather the evidence of just how thick you really are. The latter applied this time. After walking the first three drop-offs and the first berm, and after consulting with a local who’d just walked it from further down, the Gollum let his guard down, jumped aboard the CoilAir and hopped off the launchpad with Keith in pursuit, already well chuffed with the performance of the hired Nomad and keen to get it up.

As they sped down through the initial curves, Golly did notice his back end squirming a little (the bike, not his arse), and put this down to a combination of two factors: first, the skinny mud tyre he was running tubeless on the back which had offered zero grip so far, just getting here. And second – the slight glaze he spied on various strips of what should have been Terra Firma whizzing under his front wheel, again with a useless Bonty summer Yankee sand tyre fitted after borrowing the wheels from his little DDG.

All of this accumulated information gathered in about 40 seconds since leaving the serenity of the picnic table suddenly came together just one b@stard corner from the ice-repelling tree cover. So much for New Year’s Resolution Number One – no swearing. As if to share in our poor absent colleague Mick’s misfortune, the Old Fot managed to land this take-off directly on frozen water with the top corner of his right shoulder taking everything. Lying there on his back a split-second later, clutching the battered limb tightly, he could feel Mick’s pain, well, maybe 20 percent of it, as Gollums are known to have significantly lower thresholds than Cyclo Cross racers.

Keith was quick to advise/comfort/console the stricken twit and promptly set about advising everyone approaching that they should take care on this section. A few more MacMen arrived and gathered round the fallen fool to gloat over his latest MidAirCrisis. Cheers lads. After a few minutes stomping around and swelling the coffers of the Swear Box, the Gollum managed to get back on the bike which had been inspected by Team MAC and passed fit, and trickled down to the end of the run watched over once more by Keith.

It was a good while before the whole party reached base camp due to heavy traffic up at the top, this being one of the most popular runs in the World, so by the time Golly had gathered enough strength to be able to use his camera to catch the odd bit of action the lads started arriving on cue. When everyone was down and the usual enthusiastic banter had subsided, the squad decided to take it on again, and who could blame them? We nearly always do Spooky twice anyway. Jason bowed out of the second run and remained with the Gollum, the pair watching a greedy little robin climb into Golly’s Camelbak looking for scran! About fifteen minutes later the crew zoomed back into view again and a couple took on the final jump once or twice, for the hell of it. I wish!

Being in no fit state to take on the bumpy terrain of the Super G, the next Red section, Gollum suggested doing Betty Blue instead as a few hadn’t done it before. After a somewhat drawn-out repair to Ian’s rear tubeless tyre (some wag advising that the wheel would have to come off before putting a tube in!) Jason led up the short climb to the start of what can only be described as magical Blue, and it was reasonably ice-free until the very last fifty metres, but luckily Jay spotted the danger and the rest were alerted to it before any further incident could spoil someone’s day.

There wasn’t much time for rest at the start of Hit Squad Hill, with Jon wanting to hit it pronto. The Gollum decided to just put up with the pain of his crash (couldn’t ignore it though) and jumped on Jon’s tail followed again by Keith. We attacked this bit in much closer formation, getting into a rhythm and winding the speed up on the straight bit at the top before the curlies. About 45 seconds in, wouldn’t you know it? Yep, another faller. You thought it was Golly, didn’t you? You were right! Only this time it was a stupid, off-balance landing over a six inch molehill that flipped him over the bars to land on his front and left side this time. Thank Heaven for small mercies. And Thank Heaven for full face helmets.

Once more he lay on the deck writhing in agony, getting through fifty pences like nobody’s business and pulling hard on his left elbow this time for pain relief as he kicked the Kona off the trail. He was somewhat winded on this occasion after going face-down, and a rapidly-halting Keith managed to stop his skid just short of Golly’s helmet as he’d been right up his rear, and once more had the dubious pleasure of acting as Doc and Traffic Cop! The first crash had really hurt. This one – urk! It took a wee bit longer this time to recover enough to swing a 

dripping left leg over the Kona again, and there followed a very cautious and extremely painful crawl down this normally blurred set of switchbacks, although they still looked a bit blurred this time but nowt to do with speed, just tears. The Pie Run was sensibly avoided (NOT Golly’s idea! – but Cheers whoever you were) in favour of the straight climb up another ice-covered fireroad. That brought us first to The Matrix which passed without incident and the following Lombard Street, with everyone well up to speed again. Brilliant trails, these, but best ridden without injury.

The final lengthy fireroad stretch put us atop the Magic Mushroom, and after a quick mention of possible slippery bridges by Golly, it was Jon again who made the initial swoop into the trees. The Gollum followed Arthur down here nearer the back and attempted to learn something from him about a more cautious approach. It’s great in here, under the trees in half-light, whatever speed you travel at. Shame it was an hour too late though. The last field crossing before rejoining the fireroad again was sheet ice disguised as shale, and while we were sitting at the corner getting some breath back we witnessed one poor s@d come off his bike and hurt himself quite badly as he tried to ride down what Keith had earlier quoted

(see Blog Saturday, 3. January 2009) as “Even the road up has a new surface on it which is ice free”.

I jest, of course. No-one can control the weather, even if he does glow in the dark.

All we had to do now was negotiate the final Blue drop to the Hub, and because it has the benefit of total tree cover it was somewhat less risky than the exposed sections of trail, especially the north-facing ones. That meant everyone could enjoy this hilarious, outrageously satisfying series of take-offs the way the designers planned it, and as is more usual after a ride here, the grins at the bottom were bigger than the berms. So much so that it was another twenty minutes before we got away from it, with rider after rider carrying his bike back up the hill for another crack at the last ramp – great fun, and a great chance to compare styles. Shame about the person holding the Gollum’s camera, as you can see in some of the clips that follow… I didn’t have a steady enough hand on a very wobbly body, I’m afraid.

We stashed the bikes, got changed, waited for Keith to return the Nomad (he didn’t want to!) and headed for the cafe at the Hub for a welcome hot drink before departing Heaven once more. Every trip here is memorable, this one maybe moreso for a certain scrawny little figure jammed into the GollyMobile’s passenger seat while Jason kindly got us all home safely again in the van.

Thanks to Arthur once more for using his car and the others for offering, Jon and Ian for riding home from Holystone as they’d arrived in the morning, Jason for being careful with the van on the way home and my littl’un Lindsay for driving Craig and I to his home in Kenton as I just couldn’t, after he’d also ridden across in the dark first thing and was going to ride back again!

Thanks to Craig, here’s a couple more piccies: 

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Preachy Bit

Then I have to say “thanks” to Ian B for his prior warning of conditions up here today, he was absolutely spot on, and by some fluke it was just yours truly who was caught out. I cancelled a previous Away Day on Ian’s advice and from now on I’ll continue to heed his and others’ warnings when they have the better knowledge – it may just save someone some grief, maybe you.

Interestingly (or not?) it was a bike accident that caused my last day’s sick absence at work. That was 20 years ago after breaking a wrist during a cycle speedway match and it kept me off work for a whole Monday while I got it X-rayed and plastered up. I always said it would take more than another break to keep me off work again, and after three bouts of broken ribs in the last two years but no absences I was fairly confident of seeing out my working life with that record intact. However, I write this sitting in bed after spending the last three days away from work, and I don’t know what hurts the most, the damage which is both arms, legs and shoulders, or the lost record. I’m devastated. Hope to be out on Thursday night though! Por thing.

And speaking of REAL pain, I’m very glad to report that Mick is bearing up pretty well and will see a specialist on 20th January. Unfortunately he now has a chip on his shoulder (yes, yes, bigger than mine, we know, you’re not funny, ha ha… )

Keep watching and if you fancy a ride out with us, drop us a line here: terry at midaircrisis dot com

Maim a Bike Thief – Now!