Terrys Birthday Ride 2018

Terrys Birthday Ride 2018

Sunday 2nd September 2018 was the closest convenient date for my 2018 birthday MTB ride with the Midaircrisis crew. Happily a few of them including “Old Guard” Alun, Davy, Steve and Ian managed to get the day off to come help me celebrate at just about everyone’s’ favourite Trail Centre (at one time or another), Glentress.

Although the previous week’s forecast looked decent for the North in general I chose Glentress because

    a) it gives you a reliable ride at the very least
    b) it still is one of my faves especially the black Deliverance trail
    c) my new Trek Slash hadn’t seen any decent terrain yet after just 2 very short local outings
    d) I hadn’t been to GT for yonks!

I really would rather have been on natural terrain in Yorkshire, Cumbria or Northumberland for the extra grip but the excuses listed just about swung it for the Tweed Valley.

Mad Stevie came up from his Cheshire home for this riding his new Whyte hardtail with plump rubber rings. The only good thing about it is the Revelation forks up front! He has to be THE most travelled non-pro MTBer in the UK. Alun is still trying to get re-tuned after all the injury problems of the last 18 months so was a very welcome addition to my little Clarty Party. He was mounted on the brightest orange Orange in the world. Ian has gone off the radar almost completely this year down to laziness more than anything although job changes affected him too, in fairness. But he popped up on the previous Thursday night’s ride keeping his unique YT Wicked 150 running and hinted he’d be up for this – no ride is complete without his sense of humour. Speaking of which, I rarely get to ride with Davy these days as he’s usually playing golf at Innerleithen most weekends, and yes, I jest about the “sense of humour” link!

The other lads appear with a bit more consistency, particularly Colin who’s become my standby Ride Leader for any enforced absences and would be my first choice replacement for when that big black limo pulls up outside the Cave. He hardly misses a Thursday night ride. I don’t see Mark and Paul that regularly these days but I’m always glad to hook up and chat with them again.

We parked down at Bony’s Hotel for the café later and assembled the bikes ready for the off. Cloudy on the way over and not too bright but no real threat of rain, as promised. I hadn’t even reached the Go Ape hut when the lactic burn kicked in and it proper hurt. So early? Surely I’m not that far out of it? Oh yes I am, and the pain continued all the way up to the Buzzard’s Nest. We took a short but necessary break there until I felt comfortable enough to lead off up the hill again.

If Ian Browning had been here he’d have done what I did, and head straight to the top of the Blue for a nice fast, flowing warmup. I got there way ahead of the others, too busy yapping, and managed a sit down for a few minutes. After a few more the group arrived but it was two bods short of a full house. No guessing allowed here, it was Davy and Alun who were missing. They planned to do a short loop and meet us after it, so we waited. And we waited. We got a local (Geordie!) woman’s life story after she and Scottish hubby pulled up alongside, he on a decent bike and her with a battery one. Still no sign of linseed and aniseed. I decided (we, more or less) to hit the Blue and hope they’d be waiting down below. MY attempt at rearward facing video failed miserable. Firstly because no-one was able to follow my request to overtake one at a time every hundred metres, and secondly because the damn battery had lost its charge. Brilliant, Terence.

At the first fireroad crossing we paused again and looked around for two familiar figures. Not there. We finished off the Blue to the Nest again with some vigour. Brilliant little trail. Still couldn’t see them. After a while Stevie managed to raise Alun on the bone and we agreed to meet at the picnic table below Spooky climb. I chose the direct fireroad rout so we slogged up that for ten minutes. Then we slogged up Spooky climb which strangely enough seemed a lot shorter than ever before, even though I had to push up the two steepest ramps.

Regrouping again up there I told Davy what I had in mind; up to the Mast, down the Enduro trail and straight into Spooky Wood. There was a short refreshment halt at Radio Shack before Davy led off down the damp and slightly dodgy top section of the Enduro, the stones being fairly wet and creating quite a bit of rear wheel slippage, for me at least, so I took it easy. The lower section was mint though and more than once I thought my time had come as those trees squeezed me in tightly. Just today (Monday) I lopped 40mm of those 780 bars, wish I’d done it on Saturday!

We climbed the final slope up to Spooky’s picnic table and the sarnies were out in no time. After not too much of a delay the fast lads made a break for it so I followed the pair off the ledge and down Spooky’s magnificent and world famous berms, jumps and whoops. For once I managed to make it all the way down still keeping sight of the leaders but I do think there are a lot more braking bumps and their subsequent holes than ever and little or no maintenance to keep it top notch. Still nowt but wide grins down at the Meteorite though, as always, and I’m so chuffed I managed to be here for Paul’s first visit which he seemed to be lapping up.

After we’d gathered and shared the usual short stories about the last 3 or 4 minutes of our lives Davy’s natural reaction was to jump straight down Super G and he didn’t take too kindly to my diversionary tactics. “We do Betty Blue now” sez me to the somewhat disgruntled and slightly argumentative youngster. He reluctantly accepted the next phase of my plan which was to trot down the Blue and then take on my all-time favourite trail, the Black deliverance. Aside from that, several recent arrivals at the Meteorite had just headed off that way and I desired a greater gander.

How he must have chuckled after watching me disappear at high speed in completely the wrong direction for Deliverance, and how much pi$$taking must have ensued! If there’s anyone I can rely on for backup/support when needed it’s Stevie and Ian, and they eventually decided either to follow me blindly or rescue me, I’ll probably never know which. However the result was that I finally perceived a slight cockup in my directional stability and turned back, the three of us clocking an extra mile and a half-ish for absolutely nowt. EXCEPT that on our return to the others, the aforementioned “recent arrivals” were just making their final drop onto the fireroad so we all got another good look at the very pleasant scenery.

We resumed, me well ahead of the others as the firebreak wound its way around the hillsides until that marvellously understated Deliverance trailhead appeared atop the almost invisible singletrack stretching down into the valley floor of Horsburgh Hope. I needed a short rest before the off, and Alun allowed me to go first after informing me that Davy was way up the other side of the valley with his camera out, waiting for us to leave in tandem. We only had single seaters so we used them instead, creeping away slowly to stay in close formation for the Director’s Cut.

I was always careful on the first bit down to the bridge as it had caught me out before today, and warned the newbies (Mark hadn’t done this bit either) to be a bit careful. We gradually speeded up and reached the bridge where I called a halt to wait for Davy to catch us up and grab a photo.

Once again Alun waved me on for my top treat so I gave it as much as I could, hoping not to slow his pace too much with the others stacked up behind him. I’ve always loved this super-fast singletrack but since my first tootle along it ten or more years ago it has become even more of a rock fest. I managed to avoid most of the bigger ones while my new 180mm Lyriks on the Slash took care of the rest. Though still mightily enjoyable it could do with a wee bit of TLC to maybe leave you (OK, me) with a bit more energy for the horrendous uphill heave out of Redemption, almost all of which I walked on this visit.

Apologies for bu@@ering up everyone’s Strava times just as we approached the end of Deliverance’s top section at the second wooden bridge. I didn’t expect my titchycam to fly off the bike, neither did I expect a very hotly pursuing Alun to see where it landed and shout us to a halt. Having seen its miserable nil output today I wish he hadn’t bothered as I’d have rather clocked a decent time on my final visit!  But when I think about it now I’m glad the camera made its escape when it did, as there’s no way I could have maintained a decent lick for the whole almost 2 mile length of the trail. As far as I can tell from gpx analysis we all lost at least 3 minutes because of that. Around half way Davy discovered another trail and leapt onto that. When he joined us down below he reckoned it was a bit like Spooky but thinner and a bit more natural. No way was I gonna backtrack though!

I think there were a few well used bodies apart from my own as we eventually got up top again, a very long, slow walk for me up Redemption. We climbed back up to rejoin the Blue before hitting Hit Squad Hill, and it was on the lower reaches of that super drop that disaster struck. Down below as we all gathered, Colin looked concerned after hearing a loud crack somewhere beneath him on the Trek Fuel. A short time later we discovered a massive crack in the rocker link of the EX-8 29er as we regrouped at the head of the Pie Run. It looked rideable so I swapped him bikes to give his a bit of weight relief (well, he is a tad stouter than me!) and followed their Pie Run progress on the fireroad before re-joining them on Magic Mushroom, still treating Colin’s bike as gently as I could and avoiding the biggest tree roots and holes. Colin decided to call time as we got back to the main drag and left to go back to the cars. The rest of us headed straight up the long, steep firebreak to Berm Baby Berm and blasted back down it for the second time. At half way, Davy and Alun took Mark through the Bike Park while we waited at the Buzzard’s Nest for what seemed like an eternity (again!) until they finally appeared.

That just left the brilliant Blue all the way back down to finish a magic but for me extremely taxing ride, left with absolutely zero energy back at the car park. Thanks for that lads, as usual a truly memorable one apart from Colin’s mechanical. I should also mention he was the only with an unscheduled get-off just 300 metres in to Deliverance when he almost slid through the ferns to the valley floor but was rescued by I think Mark and Paul in one of those comedy sequences we always miss with the cameras.

I hope I can get a bit fitter for next September but the speed and climbing abilities of Steve, Alun and Davy kind of suggest I should give it up now!

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Next Sunday Ride (plus other odd days) - See our Facebook page.

Next Night Ride: Thursday as usual.

Thursday nighters are 10-25 milers, 7:00pm start at ASDA East car park, Benton, 3-3.5 hours and generally OK for fit new riders but you need decent lights you can see with, NOT CANDLES. You MUST wear a cycle helmet.

Sundays are generally much longer, 8:00am to 10:00am starts from ride venue ending around teatime, and much harder rides.

Other ad-hoc rides are always being organised, see our Facebook page. Gloves, waterproof coat, snack and drink recommended. Carry basic tools.

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