Not a great way to start a ride I thought as I redlined it through Northwich jumping red lights, mounting pavements, scattering mothers with small children, cutting up OAPs in wheelchairs and perhaps riskiest of all overtaking a police car on the inside. However, as El will tell you I have never been wrong before and having announced that it would only take 5 minutes to get to the tip from our house I was not about to start now.
El on the other hand was busy proving herself right in her estimate of ‘closer to 15 mins’ by freewheeling to the tip via Knutsford. On arrival I was greeted by Andy B our intrepid leader, Les1 on her brand new bike, Titch on his mum’s bike (complete with wicker basket, bell, stand and stabilizers) and Gareth as always looking lean and mean on his carbon fibre, Bentley designed stealth flying machine. We had a chat, a briefing by Andy on the route, discussed the state of the Euro, our tips for the Eurovision song contest, the score in the test match and the merits of our various forms of lighting when El eventually joined us.
This was the motley crew for the second Weaver Valley night ride and despite Els rather cutting remark that it was good planning by Andy to have it on the brightest, longest night of the year we all set off. Things went fine for almost 5 minutes until Les demonstrated that this really was her first mountain bike ride, as tarmac changed to dusty off road by announcing’ oh dear it’s getting rough’.
An inventive route around Marbury park followed, complete with sweeping single tracks and steps, up and down. I was just behind Les and starting to think that she was settling in well when up ahead on a wide bit of innocuous looking track loomed a small tree stump. ( and I mean small – twig like rather than stump like) Harder to hit than to miss I thought. However, I had underestimated how quickly Les was picking up mountain bike skills as she left it late then swerved neatly to hit said twig. This had the effect of spinning her handlebars round, stopping her in her tracks and sending her over the handlebars in a very impressive commando roll. She sprang to her feet in the time honoured manner of quickly checking behind to see if anyone had witnessed the event. ‘ I think something just fell of my bike’ she rather redundantly announced. I resisted the temptation to make the obvious response of ‘yes you! In fact I was quite impressed that my mouth actually asked her if she was ok, difficult whilst suppressing laughter. However, on picking her bike up it was missing a front wheel which had actually fallen off.
Then followed around ten minutes of refitting wheels, trying to free bent rotors and admiring buckled wheels. You know you are in trouble when Gareth has his multitool out and is attempting road side repairs! All the while we were being attacked by blood sucking, biting, half bird half bee insects. We finally left when Titch announced they were getting inside his underpants.
What then followed was a zig zag route around not often ridden tracks around the boat lift, Barnton woods and the outskirts of Northwich before setting off towards the Abbey via the Blue bridge. It was around now that Titch decided to give Les a run for her money for the Mr Blobby competition with his first fall. In fact he was to go on the make the title his own with three further falls including two that wiped out his leader, no mean feat as one of them was going up hill. Les did remarkably well with her comedy wobbly front wheel and extra drag caused by the bent rotor, chapeaux!
It was finally getting dark as we went along the river towards the Whitegate way and the always enjoyable single track towards the forest. Finally lights were needed and turned on. I also had the opportunity to demonstrate to the other riders the secret of a long and successful marriage by making a route diversion suggestion. This was ridiculed by El who made a counter suggestion, we then had a ‘lively debate’ and then did what she wanted.
A relatively event free ride down towards the pub – well Titch fell off but that was getting to be the norm rather than a cause for discussion. Then a welcome pint and enough crisps to feed the starving in Africa, before Les’s husband arrived in the car to pick her and Titch up. The rest of us had a hugely enjoyable but event free ride back down the Whitegate singletrack to arrive home a little before midnight. A great ride, good company and superb entertainment.