This should have been the MacRetro SS meet Aftermath but alas this could not occur.
Our Stalwart member Clockworkgazz has been put out of action for medical reasons. His pivotal role as group taxi driver was thus also not available which put the whole shooting match up in the air. Hope you get sorted out Gazz
None the less Kaiser being a new dad and subject to his better half's comands was not going to let his once monthly passport go to waste and so with me (Velomaniac) in tow we once more hit Glentress. Our plan was the usual one, a combination of red and blue routes followed by tea and cake. Things did not work out quite as we planned.
Glentress is a winter wonderland complete whith christmas tree sales, also a man on the gate advising against trying to ride the trails, one would have thought that was clue enough, but no many hardy souls were out to do battle, us included.
We set off up the blue route climb and at the base off the single track our first clue that this was not going to usual plan. Two modernbike riders piled past us effortlessly, Kaiser followed and showed commendable skill in not being unseated when his bike tried to spin on its axis on the sheet ice. Must get better in the trees says I and so we go on.
The blue route climb up to the road crossing is to be fair perfectly rideable as its been sheltered from the elements beneath the trees. After catching our breath and a blether about bikes and BITD rememberances we set out on the new section of blue climb. Now this is a different kettle of sqid, as its new, trees are not as cover providing, many corners and exposed straights are rutted solid ice
You soon adopt the low gear, power on steady, brakes-for ch$$$$ sake don't touch em approach as your steed shimmies left then right often without warning causing much consternation and foot dabs
Eventually reach the upper car park and a rest on a picnic bench, nearly the floor as it sits in the middle of a skating rink. This is where the first plan alteration takes place. Kaiser says"do you think we should take road up to the top of Spooky wood and not the trail ?", I agree this to be a good idea.
We set off again and shortly after seeing a teenager wipe out big time in the free ride park we decide to not go to the top of Spooky Wood but instead climb on the road to the bottom of the final climb. The ride soon turns to a walk when the snow and ice become thicker with the increasing altitude.
At the base of the final climb we chat with a group of young bucks girding their loins for the final push to the summit. Believe me the mountaineering references were not out of place ! We all watched three intrepid youths set off, one didn't get 20 yards before having to walk. The other two got further but one had a comedy low speed crash on an icy patch before the first switch back when he dabbed his foot down causing a wheelie over backwards and him lying on his back with bike on top of him. Several more riders followed, nearly all failing at the same point. Finally a foreign gent possibly italian managed to power his way up by a combination of power, skill and luck
For me and Kaiser this was yet another case of if we try that we're going home in an ambulance. One of the riders who did try it was also doing Spooky Wood for the first time, we thought we might not see him alive later but thankfully we did, he said it was SCARY as many of the corners etc were quite iced up !
Our trip down the fire road to the start of the blue run had me somewhat scared, rutted sheet ice and snow, Gingerly applying the brakes and barely exceeding walking pace we reached it alive. By now our plan was simple, get off the hill in one peice and get tea and cake.
I soon adopted a new style of riding that seen me to the bottom alive. Seat right down, feet out as stabilisers and occasional propulsion plus where possible go old school off piste through the trees to avoid the icy corners
Soon I was also walking or jogging alongside the bike using it as an off road zimmer frame to keep me upright. This was surprisngly good fun and I was at least as fast as those with enough skill to actually ride their bikes.
Finally we made it back to the upper carpark and could actually start to ride our bikes properly. Electric Blue which is the penultimate blue run through the trees on excellent flowing single track that was mainly ice free and so much fun that we climbed back up to the carpark for a second go
Then we charged down the last bit with all its wonderfull small drop offs and jumps. Worth all the effort just for this final joyous section
Then tea and cake, oh yes !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
All in all a fabulous off road trip but technically beyond our comfort zone in many sections. I have renamed our route the Black and Blue Route, all the routes increase at least one grade of difficulty when snow and ice take hold.
Kaiser took several pictures which will be posted soon.