June

NMBC's 10th Birthday

It has long been known that the best way to ride a mountain bike (unless it happens to be power driven) is by turning the pedals. It is possible but barely practical to ride with just one of these useful items, but that’s the dilemma that faced the ever-willing Steve Bowden just 400 metres from where we’d parked up in Peebles! Yes, once again those trusty Crank Brothers Egg Beaters let him down, the left one slipping off its crank before we’d even left tarmac.

Steve and Terry quickly returned to Peebles town centre to locate the bike shop, but it was closed. Unbelievable in this location when the place is overrun by bikers. Plan B was swiftly conjured up by TK, get Stevie to put his bike back on the car and hammer along to Innerleithen’s Alpine Bikes emporium, get sorted and then rejoin the group at the Buzzard’s Nest car park in exactly one hour from now (11:27). Sounded good at the time, apart from the fact that Stricken Steve would now do 14 miles more than necessary as both he and Terry had overlooked the fact that Alpine Bikes’ biggest outlet is now at Glentress Peel bike hub! Double duh!! Meanwhile Ian Mundy chipped in, telling us that Nathan Wilson had a spare pair of pedals in the van with him. “They’ll not be Crank Brothers, they’ll be Shimano” quipped Terry, while simultaneously urging Ian to catch the disappearing Nathan and find out for sure. He was back two minutes later to confirm they were after all Shimano cheapies, no good for Steve’s cleats.

We watched him drive by on his way to Inners and the remaining five of us set off to catch the main group, very slowly up a very long and in this heat (close to 30 degrees) an exhausting climb for oldies or out-of-tunies. Ian and Suzanne had stopped to wait for us and after we’d joined them we stayed on this Green Route firebreak climb all the way to the Buzzards Nest, hoping Steve may turn up earlier than proposed. That didn’t happen, so while Davy, Ray, Claire and a few others played around on the bike park stuff Ian led the rest over to the skills loop to shed a few minutes. This all after TK and Mundas attempted to play rounders with a log and an acorn but found the going a wee bit strenuous.

Steve did arrive, and a full 3 minutes before his deadline, but ON HIS BIKE! We’d expected him to come straight up in the car but he’d raced up the hill to get back to use and amazingly could still speak when he got there. Sadly he couldn’t get a Crank Brothers pedal fitted so he’d been forced to buy a pair of flats and a pair of Five Ten shoes to go with them! We regrouped at the top of the hill and headed for the start of the Red Route at Cool Runnings which heads down to the right just before and now replacing the old wind-ravaged Pennels Vennel (shows you how long it’s been for me) and the fun started. All down the first drop safely enough, and of course it wasn’t just a cruise, it was a chase, really enjoyed it but I kept a bit back and felt a wee bit timid to start with, it’s been so long since my last Sunday excursion.

We gathered again at the picnic table before setting off up the long haul to Spooky Wood. It was round about now that a few pairs of legs began to tire, those not used to trails (and climbs!) like this, plus my own. Arthur said he’d wait at Spooky head while the rest of us trekked up to the radio mast to do the Enduro trail back down again. A few more bodies took advantage of this and joined Arty until we returned to collect them for our snack stop. The top section from the mast was pretty damp and because of the slate-like surface there was plenty of sideways action up front at least, but it was really fast and as it dried around half way down the speeds increased a little. Once again the pace took me a little by surprise and I didn’t loosen up fully until the last section. Early days but still no casualties – this is going well!

We stayed at Spooky’s tables for about 15 minutes, Matt being the only one who fancied a trial run (far too much nervous energy) while we all munched away and the tired souls recovered. I think I was fifth away from the top and for the first time in years I managed to maintain a decent speed all the way down. So what, you think? Well for the last few years I’ve run out of steam at half way and had to either cruise or even stop for a short breather before completing it so this was a very nice surprise, and of course my familiarity with this bit meant I wasn’t holding back any more – the ride just got easier for me. After the normal stop at the meteorite to regroup and share some very wide grins we were off again down Super G. I jumped in behind Suzanne and she dragged me down there way quicker than I was ready for. Even more smiles down on the fireroad before we repeated the plot all the way down Hit Squad Hill where the front bunch opened a slight gap on the others. We regrouped once more before cruising along the level stretch and climbing again for a run down Blue Velvet.

About half of us had to stop and wait once or twice on here for a family with tiny tots who’d leapt in front of us at the trailhead, bad prep by us I suppose! Another super fast blast down here and I had the pleasure of being on John’s tail this time watching his rear wheel slide out over the edge under full power several times, as did my own trying to keep up with him. Oh how I’ve missed this! We took another short rest to regroup at the Buzzard’s Nest then it was off down Berm Baby Berm like rats up a drainpipe before more of the same on Electric Blue. Once again I was sat on Suzanne’s tail trying to keep up with her crazy pace, once again the leaders tightly grouped together. The initial hurt of the climbs was now but a distant memory as pure pleasure took over all of us. Still no first aid required as far as I remember (not very well!).

The descent and the chase continued through Fall Brae and Good Game before heading up the few hundred metres of firebreak to jump on the Admiral and squirt down towards the Visitor Centre. That’s when disaster struck Piotr. On his first visit here it may have been wiser to stick behind the leaders but no, he thought he could go faster so dived down first. He did manage to get all the way down until that final jump next to the fireroad where he completely mistimed it and came down very heavily. The thud was heard well up the hill but he managed to dust himself down and declare his fitness to complete the ride.

We sat outside the Peel café as it was just about wrapping up for the day – no cakes or ice creams left! This is where Steve offered to buy me a cuppa but then couldn’t find his credit card. He searched everywhere within his belongings but it was gone. The after a short, tense few seconds he suddenly realised he’d left it in the in shoe box in bike shop!!! He toddled off and returned a minute or so later beaming – they hadn’t thrown the box away and the card was still there! A couple of the tired bodies decided they’d make their way back along the main road to the cars at Peebles while the rest of us headed back up to the Buzzard’s Nest again. With Steve also having his car now parked at the Peel he decided to shoot off too.

Back up yonder it was time for some Off Piste, that being the techy little item known locally as Zoom or Bust, absolutely covered in tree roots, some quite big, and loads of little twisty drops to catch you out. Once again I followed Suzanne down here and was amazed at her speed down the thing. I think I may have taken a dab in the gully but the front three or four of us popped out almost together behind the motorbike, very exhilarating. Time for what I’d normally consider to be a slog along through Janet’s Brae but today Mr B gradually began to twist his electronic throttle a little harder and the pace gradually increased. We ended up flying in formation all the way to the point where we wanted to get off-piste again after we’d earlier noticed those new trails branching off the fireroad. I still don't know how I maintained this pace for so long in my current physical condition, dead chuffed with this. The few trails we found weren’t fantastic but much better than firebreak, and the final drop was, er, dodgy in the extreme, taking a few prisoners along the way!

Altogether a great ride well befitting the occasion, and brilliantly led as usual by the Old Master of GT Ian Browning. Thanks to all 23 riders who turned out for this one, a really pleasing response for our tenth birthday. I hope I’m around to wave off the next one in 2027!

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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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