Saturday: New friends, new trails
6am is a little earlier than I wanted to get up on a cold weekend morning. I felt shattered as I climbed out from under the duvet. A hectic week had led to a busier head than I've had for a while.
By 7.30am the car was packed, cyclocross bike on the rack, Sat Nav set for Cannock Chase.
By 9.20ish I was in the car park, talking to Nick from An Asthmatic Ant, admiring his new cross bike, ready for it's maiden voyage (sounded like an absolute bargain from On One/Planet X), and definitely looked the part.
It was still flipping freezing, but it was dry, and had been all week. We stayed warm in the cafe, waiting for everyone to arrive. Procrastination was the name of the game as group inertia meant there was no hurry in leaving the relative warmth of the cafe. One particular late-comer, yes you Gordon meant that there was a convenient excuse to reign in any remaining eagerness.
It was great meeting people who I have only ever shared 140 character messages with via Twitter, filling in the gaps between online persona and real life. I love the start of social rides... the slow pace, the continued chat, the moving to the front or the back of the group to chat or catch up with people. The hum of tyres, the anticipation of what is to come, sharing the very basic pleasure of enjoying turning pedals.
Thanks to Matt and Phil who showed us round lots of the unofficial trails on the Chase, nipping off the way-marked blue route, to rejoin it a little further along. We finished off on the last few km of the "Follow the dog" red trail, zipping and hopping along, getting rattled by braking bumps and giggling away while riding slightly inappropriate bikes (big hand to Gordon who was also riding a fixed wheel).
Sadly, I forgot to bring a camera, but Steve Makin took a few snaps. They are on his Flickr page, here.
Can't wait to meet up with some of these guys again in the near future. Nick has already promised me a guided tour around Delamere Forest. I'll be there as soon as I can.
Sunday: Local trails, a foreign land
Same early start. Less cold. A different bike... with new improved pinkness
7am. Car loaded, singlespeed mountain bike on the rack. Drove over to Holmfirth and met up with my friend Peter at his beautiful house, high up above Huddersfield. We rode straight from the front door, up the bridleway that begins at the bottom of his drive. Despite riding every kind of bike prolifically just a few miles north-west in the Calder Valley, I've never explored the hills between the M62 and north Peak District. I've missed out. The gradients felt slightly less harsh, but the quality of the views and mixture of landscape was wonderful. We had a great mix of singletrack climbs and descents, tarmac grovels, and wide sandy bridleways. The valleys felt more "open" than the dark wintery ones to the north, but more industrialised than the Peak. We cruised round a great 35 mile loop during the course of the morning and were back at Peter's in time for a lovely roast.
I was surprised how fresh my legs felt, and there feels like some genuine power is slowly beginning to return. Again no photos, but plenty of memories, and I'm looking forward to another visit to explore some more of what the area has to offer.
Sunday evening: went to the gym, sat in the steam room and Jacuzzi. My legs and body felt tired. My mind felt wide awake.