Today had to be one of the best bike rides – ever!

Stuck close(ish) to home for this one so that we could get a couple of new faces on board – Rich and his next door neighbour Dave.

This particular ride saw us starting off and finishing in Rochdale which is where Rich and Dave live and not quite as an early start as previous days but after being out on the beer the night before i was certainly glad of the extra half an hour in bed. That could have been interrupted by a txt at 4:30am from Giles kindly informing us he wasn’t going to be able to make it – who was she Giles πŸ™‚ Anyway, it didn’t work and i struggled to get out of bed at 6:45 as planned, packed my stuff up and headed to Rich’s house.

Like normal, I arrived first thanks to the trusty sat nav and leaving early enough – take note fellow bike riders! The Salisbury house hold was just getting themselves up and ready when I arrived, breakfast was on the go and I was kindly offered some toast to get me going which was handy as for once I’d forgotten to have breakfast πŸ™ We waited around for a while longer before Jordan turned up late as always. So, it was then time to start getting the bikes ready and double checking that we had everything needed to get through the day. Rich’s next door neighbour, Dave,Β joined us whilst we were getting ready and after some brief introductions, a couple of lubed up chains and we were on our way to, well, somewhere!

The route had been picked and planned by Dave so we were at this mercy to how good the this day would get and obviously which way we were going. Dave had only done part of the route before so wasn’t quite sure how good the start would be. If anyone is interested in the route then it’s been planned out on Google Maps – http://tinyurl.com/35lypu let me know if it was of any use to you.

The weather for the day seemed to be looking pretty good, no sign of rain, wasn’t colder than other rides I’ve been on so it was all good. It had however been raining the night before so the ground was quite bogged down in places but didn’t seem to be causing us any problem at the start. As the ride progressed, one of the best things about it compared to other days was that the majority of the uphills we had to do, were progressive rather than being steep. This meant that I didn’t get tired as quick as I normally do. The gradual uphills lead us into our first downhill of the day and if what that offered as even 10% of the rest of the day then I knew we were in for a decent day. Nice and rocky, rough, steep enough and twisty to make you have to think about the path ahead – I loved it πŸ˜€

As the day went on and the mini breaks had been had a few times by everyone, we started coming across more and more ‘puddles’ and when I say ‘puddles’, I really mean mini ponds! These things were deep, with some of them covering half of the wheel which provided some entertainment to people following behind. It also mean that any slightly boggy sections were pretty bad Jordan and Dave were thoughtful enough to let me and Rich go first – which we were only happy to do. One section that we were heading through went from being about a foot deep with water to being a foot deep with water and a layer of mud about 10 inches deep at the bottom, obviously neither our wheels or feet could get through this thing and we had to drag ourselves out of it before doing the next sensible thing and carrying on :p Just past this I ended up in front of everyone and was heading down a very short downhill to what looked like a perfectly flat piece of ground, how wrong could I be, I hit the ground at a decent enough speed and managed to get about 50% of the way across before my front wheel just sank about a 3rd of the way into this bog and I went straight over the handle bars face first into a lovely stench pit which reminded me of the bog of eternal stench but without Sir Didymus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labyrinth_(film)). Well obviously that provided some entertainment for everyone and allowed us all to catch our breaths again. By this time, we were all pretty much covered in mud but I think I took top prize for being the worst one out of us all.

We’d pretty much hit about the half way mark and we came across a small windy road which led us down into a nearby town/village, Dave headed the way down this as he’d been before, I followed with Rich and Jordan behind us. Not 30 seconds into the descent and I heard and then saw Jordan whizzing past, peddaling for all he was worth, he went straight past me and caught up with Dave straight away, when I say caught up with, what I really mean is, lost control, started to go over his handle bars, get caught up with Dave and wipe both of them out leaving Dave sprawled across the top of a barb wired fence – ouch! Considering the speed of everyone and the spectacular merging of metal, at the time the only apparant injury sustained was by the innocent Dave who had a chunk of shin taken from his leg, nothing some water and a bit of cloth couldn’t wipe up. After a check of everyone, a check of the bikes and a bit of work (yes, I even get called up on the side of mountains :)) we carried on to the bottom of the road, slowly, until Jordan stopped in front of us complaining his front brake wasn’t working. We had another look over Jordan’s bike and found that his front wheel was buckled pretty badly and his front brakes were pretty much non-existant. With no tools to be able to fix this we carried on as best we could, leaving Jordan to stop himself with his feet or gravity – it was mostly the former.

We hadn’t gotten about 20 more minutes into the ride when we were hit with Dave’s chaing becoming wedged between the bottom bracket and the frame – a bad design if you ask me. This cost us about 40 minutes in time whilst Dave worked to: remove the bolt holding the cog in place, remove the chain from it’s new home, remove two links from the chain and then, well not much more. It then took all four of us to try and get the pin back into the link on the chain where we were reconnecting, after us all being hit with mild hypothermia, I decided to run over to a house we were outside to borrow a pair of tweasers or pliers so that we could hold the pin in place whilst we tightened it all back up. This worked and got us back up and running in 5 minutes, so after a quick thank you to the kind chap who borrowed us his pliers we were able to set off again and we all decided that the best thing forward was to head back the shortest way and call it a day. At least we’d learnt (the hard way) not to fully remove a pin when splitting a chain, oh and I also learnt that my bike multi tool has both a tyre lever set and a chain splitter, grrrr.

About 4 hours had past so far and we had around another hour before we got back, the pace slowed down slightly as everyone was becoming more and more tired. However the quality of the trail didn’t change and it finished off just as good as it started with the exception of us being slightly dirtier πŸ™‚

Jordan took some pics along the way, I’ve uploaded these to my gallery so go check them out here

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