First Ride of the New Year!We have had a tradition to ride together over the New Year break whatever! This started back in 1989 and was initiated by Steve. That first ride was memorable as I had only just started riding and Steve was a vet. I thought that death was close as it rained, snowed and blew a gale. I was soaked to the skin and I hadn't got any riding gear in those days. From that year on we kept it going and Steve always had a epic up his sleeve. One year we got to the end of the road and had to come back. Snow was piled high and riding was impossible. Steve has alas emigrated to New Zealand but we have still kept it going even if only one of us can make it. I think I'm the only one not to have missed since '89.
I contacted Mike and he was up for it. The forecast was good, cold and frosty with possibility of snow. It sounded good to me. So I went to Mike's as agreed. We had a coffee, chatted about what had happened over the past year, retirement plans, the joy of teaching, the future and then togged up ready to go. And so we headed off on one of his specials.
We climbed the lane near his house and dropped down into Glossop. The forecast was right. It was piggin' freezing. Small flecks of snow were falling and started to stick on the minor lanes. A woman got stuck trying to get her car up a steep incline. No probs on the bikes. It was taking me some time to get warm as we joined the main road up the pass towards Hayfield. The road conditions were trecherous with ice taking its tole on two cars which had collided. Police cars flanked the wreckage as we stopped to take pictures, much to the annoyance of the police officer who asked us why we were doing it. Cameras away we headed to the turn off taking us onto Matley Moor and a great little downhill section which was usually muddy. Not today. It was rock hard giving us loads of traction and a clean ride which is very unusual in the Peaks!
The ride took us to the north side of Lantern Pike where we passed a walker and her border colly dog. This dog must have thought we were sheep 'cos it followed up for ages and tried to herd us! A few shouts from Mike sent it running in the opposite direction with its tail between its legs. We dropped down a very technical descent to the Sett Valley Trail without a hitch and headed for Hayfield. The wind was picking up and it was biting so much that it was hard to talk 'cos of numb lips. The route took us on the new Pennine Bridleway and lead us up a wooded section which was too steep to climb. We did a loop after a discussion of whether to extend it to Castleton and then dropped back into Hayfield to climb the Snake path.
As we climbed the steep path to the shooting hut it started to snow more and the wind was still blowing. The descent from the hut was brilliant but I nearly lost it as I went over a frozen section which gave way and gobbled my front wheel. We reached the main road with big smiles on our faces and took a pause to eat cake. Then on we got up the pass and back to Glossop. I was flying and then turned round to see Mike miles behind. He'd a slow puncture so we put more air in and manage to get back without a tube change.
After rinsing the bikes down we had soup and toast, chatted about past holidays and I drooled over his beatifully made titanium road bike. It was a work of art. And light well .........? So another year gone and another top ride. Thank God that I still have my health and am able to enjoy this exilerating sport.