Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Last rides

For my last weekend of riding for many months, winter finally decided to turn up - just a little bit. Saturday dawned beautiful & clear - Ady & I headed out for a similar loop of the Forest to the previous week's. With an extra layer on in deference to the -5ÂșC, it was great to have the Forest dry for a change. With a slightly slower pace than last time, the best part of the riding (apart from being out on such a great morning) was riding across all the frozen puddles & either locking up the wheels to slide across or suddenly breaking through the ice.

Sunday's news was of course dominated by the UK coming to a grinding halt in places with a few inches of snow. Pleasingly, it just rained a bit down this way & I set off up the M3 with Dan towards Winchester - meeting at Chris's house in Otterbourne. As soon as we got off the motorway the snow starting showing up on the side of the road. We set off through a few inches using a variety of bridleways & side-streets to go around Winchester anti-clockwise through some rather posh patches. A few centimetres of snow is great fun as there is still mostly traction, but a just enough sliding around for the front wheel to make things interesting. Eventually we were off the roads & cutting through the countryside avoiding puddles & trying to keep our feet warm. It was noticeably warmer, but damper than Saturday's ride.

There were some big wide tracks that provided plenty of amusement snaking around many puddles. Unfortunately by this stage, our feet were starting to get wet from the constant spray. In the end, our three different methods for keeping warm feet all failed well & truly - at the first decent food stop, there was much walking around on the road to try & warm our feet.

Through more fields, down bridleways & the occasional piece of singletrack we carried on. After a particularly wet, muddy & slow field crossing, during which we were delighted not to have the large-horned steers impale us, we hit the South Downs Way and headed back towards Winchester. It wasn't long after that we stood around cursing our cold feet as Dan extracted a large thorn from his tyre & patched a tube. That was about the time I took this photo - apologies for lack of nice photos, stopping to satisfy my shutter-finger wasn't a large priority.

Strangely, as the snow was mostly melting by now, we hit the deepest drift of the day in the middle of an open field. More fun sliding around, it was a pity that the spring that holds my brake pads apart somehow got bent in part & then started rubbing annoyingly on the rotor. There was no way I was changing that with so little distance to go until home - it took long enough to remove the calliper from the frame & cable-tie it to my seat. The 50 km were up with a lot less resistance for me (you never realise just how much your brakes are rubbing when you gradually get used to it). Back at Chris's it was time to painfully remove socks, warm up & hose bikes, shoes, clothes & backpacks of much splatter.

So there you have, my last ride report for quite some time ("and there was much rejoicing").

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