Back on the Horse.
|Off the horse; two flat tyres at Antur Stiniog Downhill park in Wales.|
One particularly day in late June I was peering out of the window at work and marvelling at an unusually pleasant afternoon. “Bugger going swimming” I thought to myself, “I’m going to risk it and go out for a spin on the bike”.
And so I did. And it all started oh so well. I was badly in need of a couple of long, steady, training rides to help me prepare for the upcoming Sleepless in the Saddle 24 hour race. I decided to head up to the High Peak Trail and bash out some consistent mileage. It’s a lovely ride of 35 or so miles, out and back. I parked the car at the side of the Cromford Canal at Whatstandwell and set off along the towpath towards High Peak Junction, getting splashed a lot by all the ever present puddles of water. At High Peak Junction I turned left, picked up the start of The High Peak Trail, and started the long, 2.5 miles, climb up to Middleton Top. It’s a decent climb and soon had me out of puff. About halfway up it levels out for a while, past Black Rock, before steepening sharply once more up a 1 in 8 incline to the summit. I passed through the gate at the top and along past the old engine house before continuing on along the relatively flat ridge, picking up the pace to a steady 27-28km/h. I bashed along happily with the intention of keeping a steady tempo all the way to Parsley Hay and then back again. About 10 miles along the trail it began to rain steadily, I was already wet from all the standing water so I decided just to carry on regardless. Unfortunately the rain increased progressively and by the time I arrived at Parsley Hay I was absolutely soaked; not only that but I was also covered, head to foot, in a horrible slimy limestone clag! I reflected on my inspiring decision to carry on 😀
After a brief stop I remounted and started the return leg, before the cold started to set in, feeling particularly sorry for myself! I pushed a little harder just to try and keep warm. About a mile past Minninglow and about 10 miles from the car the bike started to feel a bit weird. I stopped and gave a tug at the front wheel; nothing amiss there. “Strange” I thought to myself before pedalling on. “Nope, something isn’t right” I looked down and noticed that my rear tyre was almost flat, “Bollocks”. I pushed the bike underneath the shelter of a nearby tree and took off my pack. At the same moment I remembered where my pump was; on the bloody kitchen table at home! I sighed at the realisation. I had put some air in the tyres before leaving home and forgotten to put it back in to my pack. Pissing down with rain and 10 miles from the car I pondered my predicament. Who should I ring for help? My Mum was down on the Isle of Wight visiting my Sister, and my Dad was up in Edinburgh, Scotland. Opposite ends of the country from me. I chanced my luck and called my brother; luckily he was home and kindly agreed to pop out and pick me up. What a relief that was, had I had to walk back to the car I wouldn’t have got home until a ridiculous hour. I guessed at my approximate location before suggesting a pick-up point. I then shouldered the bike and set off hiking, reckoning that the nearest access to a road was a couple of miles away. At least it was good hike-a-bike practice for next years Yak Attack mountain bike race in Nepal.
And so about 45 minutes later, more by luck than judgement, we managed to stumble across each other in the village of Longcliffe, just as the light was starting to fade. Mark dropped me off back at the car and I peeled off my filthy, sodden clothes and stashed them into a plastic bag before driving off home home; vowing not to go out on my bike again until the sun shone properly!
My mate Mitchell asked me if I was free to ride later that week and I turned him down flat! “Not until the sun shines and the trails are dry” I cried. He laughed.
|Enjoying a sea view at lunch; dusty trails & glorious sunshine. Nant-Y-Arian.|
And then the sun began to shine. And I had a long weekend off right in the middle of it! Yeehaw. My son Dan and I headed off to North Wales to stay with my fellow Yak Attack rider Cefin Evans at his beautifully located farmhouse near Aberystwyth. We rode dusty trails in bright sunshine, and it was glorious!
|Dan enjoying the dusty trails at last!|
|One of the views from Cefins farm|