What a day Saturday turned out to be. The fun and games began before we even got there- trying to find a route over the moors to get to Dalby was a task in itself due to the amount of snow and ice on the roads, everyone had tales of big slides and hairy moments en route. Tim (Justbackdated) rode into Dalby from his home and looked shattered before the start having slid all the way up from Ellerburn mainly on his arse!
Once a depleated but still pleasingly motly crew assembled in the car park (which was sheet Ice and a foretaste of what was to come) it was decided to cut the first section and head straight up Housedale to Dixons Hollow.
Although most people brought Retro machines, some of them ended up in the Purple Mountain bike shop on display and more modern rigs were chosen for the task ahead.
I took down my 07 Yeti as well as the Hei Hei and after a brief and somewhat scary wobble around the car park I opted for the Yeti......Until the guilt set in that is. I decided to try some wider riser bars to try and improve the feel. Didn't help much, it was still scary and being my first ride on a single speed (asides from going to the pub) put me off. So I put the Hei on display in the shop with Gils RC100, a Klein, a Mantis and a Mongoose and got ready to roll. Just as everyone clipped in I got the guilt pang again and hastily swapped bikes again. Damn it! I had built the bastard thing for this ride and ride it I would (if truth be told, they made me take it with a show of hands that left me out numbered).
So we were ready. Gil and his pal on 29er Singlespeeds, MJN on his singlespeed GT, Tim on a very retro looking Voodoo with PACE forks and the rest on various hardtails and the two lads from down South Yorkshire way on modern full sussers.
RETRO RIDERS 0- SNOW QUEEN 1
The first climb really set the scene. Sheet ice and 5 inches of snow with a nice crispy topping. The singlespeed bit was a revalation- hard work and a real baptism of fire for me but it suprised me that the four singlespeed bikes set the pace amongst the group. The trick was to keep it rolling and try and find traction, the problem was when a slower granny grinding geared bike wandered across your path causing one to slow down, break traction and fall over
The other problem was the snow was so frozen that if you wandered into someone elses wheel tracks you were off again as the front wheel followed the rut.
We eventually made it to a junction and turned off into virgin snow thinking it would be the easier option than the polished surface we had just riden and sliden up- this is where my grip came off for the first time of many planting my testicles onto finest 3.25 Titanium- not too bad, as my genitals had strangely retracted due to the cold
It was really hard work this part, it was like riding through sand and just a slip was enough to stop you in your tracks. At this point I tried to keep up with Gil who effortlessly ploughed on with a slow grind- That man's calves are the size of tree trunks and watching from behind was like watching a great Steam Loco leave Pickering Station- effortless. I don't think I have ever been as demoralised. T'was time for a rest, some powergel and to refit my grips again.
Soon after Snowbound fireroad became sodden slushy single track and with it the inevitable wet arse, still we were able to ride for the first time. We made Dixons hollow to find it deserted and covered in fresh virgin snow. The sight of Gil's mate on a SS rigid 29er, with drop bars getting air off the table tops in six inches of snow was something to be seen. Sithlord took to the raised Northshore which looked like fun so i clambered on just to fall off the other side without even getting on the bike! Decided to let the kids play whilst I had a crafty fag.
RETRO RIDERS 1- SNOW QUEEN 1
The next section of singletrack had not been touched, it was almost impossible to see where it went. I'd been a few weeks before and remembered this bit well so set off down hammering it as hard as I could. What a laugh it was too. Burms were taken Speedway stylee with the back end out at 90 degrees. The soundtrack to this was the following pack laughing and whooping as one by one they hit trees, each other of just fell of the road.
We found a group at the bottom of this section, lost and pouring over a map. They wondered over to ask for directions and were shocked when they saw what we were riding. 'its got no suspension' one wispered, '**** hell its got no gears' came the reply, 'whats with the bars' muttered another as they smuggly sat atop their modern Specializeds and Santa Cruz's. We would be passing them at high speed several times over the next half an hour before they gave up and went home with their tails between their legs
Here we are giving them a head start...
Onwards again, stopping to move trees and branches that were littering the trail, brought down by the sheer weight of the snow that had fallen. It was a beautifull place to be, so quiet, I don't think we saw another rider from this point on- everyone had given up by this point.
More flowing snowy singletrack followed before the dreaded snowfest of the fireroad beckoned once again. This is were Sithlord snapped his granny ring clean in half- our only serious mechanical of the day. He emerged from the trees five minutes later clutching his prize after stripping his cranks out trailside and removing the twisted remnants.
RETRO RIDERS 1- SNOW QUEEN 2
The trails at this point became unpassable so we headed back towards tarmac for the 'nice little climb' up to Adderstone (not my words!), at the bottom of which I hit black Ice and came off at speed. It happened so fast I bounced twice before letting go and sliding across the road. I stood up in time to warn the others but thinking back it would have made a few good pictures as one by one they hit the Ice!
It was here that I got a second helping of demoralisation. As I puffed up the climb, Marcus (MGN) steamed past me as though he were going down- single speed on the same ratio and everything. I came to the conclusion that single speed is a big lie and a load of bollocks as my hands sought out non existant shifters.
We spent the rest of the afternoon with Gil up front guiding and trying to find rideable single track, with some success- snow gave way to slushy water gullies in places which gave a good soaking as well as some much needed speed. The sun even came out too!. Time and Tim marched on and even though we had not scratched the surface it was time to take to the snowy fireroads and head back to camp.
RETRO RIDERS 2- SNOW QUEEN 3
The last decent back to the car park had a sting in its tail as one, then two, then a third rider crashed into each other whilst slowing for a gate, all very slow motion and quite gracefully too it must be added. A last minute goal for the snow queen which saw us lose in fine style and spirit.
So a good day all in all. Good giggles and wet feet, not the kind of riding we had hoped for, but fun, and a great bunch of people. Vans and cars were loaded and we took to the cafe for Tea and Cakes (which Tim had been looking forward too since the start). A great day was capped when Adrian Carter popped in and had a cuppa and half an hours chat much to the delight of Sithlord who had just peddled one of his creations around for the last four hours.
Planning to do it again on the third of January so if you like the sound of it, put down the Turkey Curry and get your ass over to Yorkshire.
Sign up here....
Someone mentioned that Singlespeeders legs are available in the Flood Sale at Chain Reaction Cycles so I end my report as I need to buy some before they are all gone.
Thanks for a great day out guys. See you soon
Si of the Antartic