January

Thursday 14th

Even the short journey – about 250 metres - from my place (“The Cave”) to ASDA’s car park was as perilous as you’d want it to be as I very slowly trickled my way down to meet – potentially no-one! However, I’m not the only loon in NMBC and sure enough there was a small gaggle of riders waiting to do some figure skating on bikes. Those present:

Lucy Brain
John Rivers
Grant Austin Brooks
Ian Mundy
and moi.

There was a stiff, chilling breeze but the main concern was obviously the ice which had turned absolutely every hard surface into very dangerous ice flows, and as we rode more and more of it converted what was left of the afternoon’s slush into tyre-tearing, skin-ripping little mountain ranges. Be afraid – I was.

We headed straight for the trees with the intention of remaining under their protective canopy. The first ten minutes darting around the Maze presented no problems, a little muddy in places but enough grip afforded for semi-controlled slides as long as the zillion felled branches were attacked at right angles, good fun. After the first loop through the Ride Leader managed to lead the Phenomenal Five into a puddle which became ever deeper as we progressed towards exactly what we didn’t need – yep, a dead end! Only been riding this for ten years but for some reason the puddle drew me farther and farther in, and it was only Lucy’s squeals and my own realisation that my ankles were both under very cold water at mid-stroke. B*st*rdy! I’d spent all flippin’ day drying my trusty Shimano booties in front of an electric fire after Sunday’s mud fest, and now they were wetter than ever, duh.

With some degree of difficulty we reversed out of the pond and dived back into the trees, picking our way through virgin territory, strangely enough. We headed up the first slope to do a loop of the trees on the other side of the main drag, plenty of fallen branches and one large tree to manoeuvre past on the way through before regrouping and moving up-slope again for the final maze run. One or two diversions were necessary to get through to somewhere near our normal exit point before we headed out to The Hill and the Edge Trail singletrack along the lower western side.

Grant led us down to the wooden bridge, the RL being too scared to lead in case there was a big crash waiting for him, but we got down safely enough as whatever water was still in liquid form was keeping the descent wet rather than solid. We scampered along the southern singletrack next before heading back up over extremely boggy grass to the trail beneath the summit and did an out-and-back run on that before leaving via the Barking Dog exit.

Next stop the Burn, and after I’d led in, blindly as usual, we only got a few metres further before the brambles made it impassable. Retreat! Ian led us down the field instead and onto Phase Two which was easily passable but getting skinnier with some of the off-camber edges perilously close to disaster now. Rather than do that infamous muddy drop into the lower reaches of the Burn, or the ice-covered steps, we stayed left and took the path down to the foot of Rosehill Bank before crossing the road and blasting along the burn side behind Ian, going well on just his second outing for months but after a week of biking to work again.

Next we flew along the skinny opposite the rope works trying not to fall into the dirty burn’s threatening blackness and popped out on Hadrian Road. We climbed the bank and turned back again before the Metro station to backtrack the way we’d come into the lower Burn again. After a tricky balancing act along the ice-strewn main tarmac drive Grant led us up and back out behind the ambulance station where we stopped for a delicious snack, Lucy once again providing a lush cake fest with three helpings each thanks everyone who didn’t come out tonight!

We took the easiest of the higher singletrack exits back up to the Coast Road, back through the underpass and then stayed on the cycle path all the way along past the A19 before turning down behind Silverlink. That’s where I had my second fall of the night, climbing the path towards the steam railway which looked dry but was black ice. Two hard landings on my right foot reminded me how much I detest (fear) riding in icy conditions. Ian left us as we crossed Middle Engine Lane while the remaining four of us headed straight home from there up the waggonway, all very happy to get to the end of this one.

group

DISASTER! Next day was washing day for my riding gear, and during the process the Washer Woman noticed two holes in my brand new Proviz jacket, both sleeves having little tears in them! Aaaagh!

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Next Sunday Ride (plus other odd days) - See our Facebook page.

Next Night Ride: Thursday as usual.

Thursday nighters are 10-25 milers, 7:00pm start at ASDA East car park, Benton, 3-3.5 hours and generally OK for fit new riders but you need decent lights you can see with, NOT CANDLES. You MUST wear a cycle helmet.

Sundays are generally much longer, 8:00am to 10:00am starts from ride venue ending around teatime, and much harder rides.

Other ad-hoc rides are always being organised, see our Facebook page. Gloves, waterproof coat, snack and drink recommended. Carry basic tools.

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The bigger the group, the louder the laughs!

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