My friend Kate invited me along to her Birthday ride, and kindly she'd arranged it to start about 2 minutes ride from my house, so no excuses for not making it, or being late. Even though I was the last to arrive.
Along with Kate for our little adventure were Amy, Ali, Simon and Chris, and they'd all brought along their singlespeeds. I was asked why I hadn't brought mine, to which I replied along the lines of "because I know better".
They had a route planned, however as the local I was allowed to modify our route to incorporate some bits of quality riding that our party hadn't done before. In fact it was modified that much in the end, other than the direction of travel it shared little trail with the original route. Route Hijack.
A pleasant warm up roll down the Sett Valley trail, then off we went up the first hill. Just this side of rideable for it's extent, though of course if you have a singlespeed, you'll be needing the right gear.
Once at the top of the hill, we headed down a nice steep descent, no offs, but a couple of refusals.
Swoopy, droppy singletrack followed, never too tricky, but exposed.
Poor Ali discovered on the way down, that the mud and grit of which we have plenty currently, had eaten her brake pads. So we diverted slightly to point her in a homeward direction before heading off in search of more slippy twisty lines.
We all knew the first section, but then the next special diversion. I'd only done it once before. In preparation for the 3 peaks James and I had ridden it on our cross bikes. On that occasion neither of us had made it to the valley floor without kissing the grass on our way. I had thought though on that occasion, that on a mountain bike it would be possible to clean the descent.
150 metres of descent in a kilometre and all of it on a track little wider than a tyre. The first part without obstacle, but a couple of stoppers and drops meant that more speed was needed than one might have at first thought.
I was waiting for anyone down here. Solely focussing on getting down without the dreaded dab. It was going so so well. I passed the previous points of ejection without ado. The crux, a drop with some rock stoppers was barely an event. Sneaky grass covered ruts that had twice snatched my front wheel last time were glanced at and avoided. Of course just as I thought I'd made it a lack of momentum and inattention forced me to put my foot down. Pah.
I had a little wait before the next rider came into sight. Simon crested the brow smoothly, before spectacularly leaving his bike behind whilst continuing over his handlebars. Nothing broken though. Everyone down safely, and the weather was closing in. A good ride, so far. No need to be greedy, there's always another day. We retreat to the George.
Happy Birthday for tomorrow you giffer.