Went for a little night ride with the boys again this week. We rock up to the carpark, chat whilst throwing our bikes together, check our wheels are on tight and our lights are charged and of we go. It’s not far, not epic. We know the hills so if we are a little underprepared it doesn’t matter too much. Does it?
On Thursday 5 started and 2 turned back after a couple of hours. We 3 remaining brave soldiers had a particular tricky and swooping descent in mind at the other end of the range of hills and set off through the night to find it. Soon we split up as two parallel tracks seared away from each other on a deafening downhill. 2 one side, 1 the other. A few achingly long minutes later we were reunited but not after some tricksy heartbeats and a few worried glances. Mike’s light came bobbing up the hill towards us and we let out our held breaths. Ground rules were set and we rode on to find the perfect descent.
It was amazing. The river to our right was roaring with the weight of water recently fallen. The river was close and then it dropped away and the roaring sound was metres below, nothing between the slippery singletrack we hurtled down and a sharp and rocky fall.
On the way back over the top back to the carpark we three were excitable and hearty. It was worth the risk and the late night. 3 hours had passed and I still had a drive back to Bristol. But it was worth it. Now it was getting cold and started to rain. Rain turned to slush and slid horizontal as the wind picked up. It didn’t matter. We were on our way back in.
Mike’s chain broke. Borrowed bike, no saddlebag. No tools. I had a chainbreaker bought at ASDA and a rusty quicklink and saved the day. Teeth chattered.
Chain broke again. Quicker fix this time. Granny cog only. Teeth chattered, shoulders shook, back tense with absolute, frightful cold.
Pedal, pedal, pedal. Let’s get warm. Scream. Mike’s front tyre blew out. Crashed. Broken light. Bleep Bleep. Bloody Bleep.
Borrowed bike, how do you get this wheel off? Has anyone got any spare clothes? Food? Who brought a mobile phone? Ah.
Tube fixed and in we limp. Frozen, miserable, edges of worry visible through the jokes. Jaw tense and fingers throbbing with the pain of cold. But it’s our local hills. We know these hills. (The weather doesn’t care).
Piss poor preparation and planning. Never again.