The filth is back!

The "all things that slither" Ride

There is some solid science accurately charting Earth’s orbit around the Sun. Backed up by are all sort of graphs, rotating models and calculations based on planetary tilt and elliptical pathways. It’s pretty damn convincing, but – this morning – someone forgot to tell my particular bit of the planet.

A month ago it was Winter. Before Winter had been given the official go ahead by ‘those that know‘. Four weeks of sub zero temperatures, snow, ice and bone chilling cold. And here we are three weeks since the supposed ‘shortest day‘, it was properly dark, exceeding wet, roof tremblingly windy and twenty degrees warmer than Autumn. Which makes sense, because now we’re right in the middle of winter.

The "all things that slither" Ride The "all things that slither" Ride

No matter, Sunday AM is ride time whatever the climatic conditions/supposed season. The howling forty mile an hour crosswinds kept all but the most keen trail users off the ridges, and New Years Resolutions were clearly being tested by the grim faces of some runners we passed.

The "all things that slither" Ride The "all things that slither" Ride

We had a blast. Nearly blasted off the top of one hill and punted sideways off jumps that really were not ideally suited for pre-breakfast bravery. Launch off, get kited downwind, land in a complaining squirm of tyre, wobble about a bit, survive. It was one of those rides best summarised by “everyone was having so much fun, until someone lost a leg

The "all things that slither" Ride The "all things that slither" Ride

Conditions under-wheel were slithery. Even the rocks were coated with moisture planting demons in our minds which surfaced as desperate moves to keep the bikes on line. It’s the closest I’ve been to a proper crash in a while, and was only saved by fantastic forks and some subconscious instruction to leave the brakes alone. Sketchy, so very sketchy.

Damp rocks turned to full on mud in the woods. Front wheels followed lines entirely unconcerned by any yawing of the bars. Brakes stole much needed traction from tyres, so it was a Hobson’s choice between pitching the bike harder into a turn or risking a dab of disc. The do nothing option would have ended in tree. Engaging, committed, difficult, fab.

The "all things that slither" Ride The "all things that slither" Ride

At one point I noticed my GPS was making a break for freedom: “Women and Instrumentation first” it seemed to be crying while attempting a suicide dive off the bars. I wrested it back to find we’d climbed 750+ metres, slithered up, down and often sideways for 22 kilometres and were averaging speeds normally seen only in summer.

There’s probably some science that can explain that as well. All I can say for sure it was brilliant fun and I’m knackered. Which appears not to carry sufficient weight to excuse me from duties with a paintbrush this afternoon.