Riders – Gav, Mark T, Ste Kelly, Ste Winn, Paul Watterson, Liam, Phil C, Neil K, Morris, Yogi, Coops, Séamus.
12 spirited souls set off from Union Mills – as there wasn’t a quorum of Loaghtans’ (Newshie was at Pilates trying to find hi chi ) the route was going to be prone to variables! And with the amount of speed demons that turned up I feared the worst. Trolloby was cleared; all gates were open so no sty hopping was required. Mark and I took up the rear, more because of a lack of fitness than courtesy and protection. We discussed the trials and tribulations of Marks bad luck and continued misfortunes with all things two wheeled! He should be getting a platinum award as customer of the year from the Islands various bike stores for the amount he spends with them! The Nab triangle was suggested but before any discussion could be had the sprinters had rounded the corner to commence the climb. From here visibility diminished so this was not going to an evening for any KOM’s. The usual verbal ‘Coops Bashing’ began regarding the assent aspect of the route. By this stage Coops was berating himself now, as he had come out on his full bounce!! Back down ‘Bone Shaker’ to Eyreton cottages. It was here that Bluebell lane was suggested. Kerruish very kindly said I could have his KOM on this section as he wasn’t bothered anymore, so off set Coops and I to do some damage. Gav, resplendent on his new full bounce 29”er was enjoying the terrain both up and down; his new steed was proving its worth! Bit of tarmac and a bit of railway line to the bottom of 7 Gates. The rear lights of usual suspects could be seen twinkling on up ahead as us ‘others’ calmly took our time, on the premise we would not have to open or close a gate, which as some of you know can be a taxing chore for me! Well blow me……..once through the 4th gate we proceeded on, anticipating the ‘corner of gloop’ only to find that some authority has completely sanitized this section, and on up as far as the mines! The track has been filled in and is now as flat as witches tit and as wide as a ……………………….., well let’s say a Landover could happily commute up here in two wheel drive! We all complained and wondered why????? That’s all you can do when you don’t know the answer!
On into Archie plantation and the usual through the tree routes were navigated. Liam, with adrenalin pumping, was now acting the maggot like wil’ o the wisp through the trees. Once back onto the fire roads the bike light were forming fantastic and varied silhouettes on the mist ahead. We played hand puppets in the mist. I did my Jesus on the cross, but the judges said it was not a seasonally correct portrayal and only gave me a 4 out 10. Kerruish said “here, look at mine!”…. “what is it?” we enquired through squinted eyes’ “it’s my thumb” Kerruish bellied back at us– we all knew it wasn’t as there is no way he could get his glove off and back on so quick – but we were left wondering exactly what was that small shaped object silhouetted in the mists of the night sky???????
On up through the yellow route. A variation on many other mid Archie trails. Lots of slippery roots and tight turns. No rolling really, so we just peddled on. I did follow Morris’s ‘fat tyre’ route as it paved the way through the mud like Moses parting the Red sea! Re-grouping at one stage we realised we had lost our trail leader…..cries and calls into the foggy night returned no comfort of his safety or where he may be? So, we carried on chatting about tire choice and wheel size, Gav now fully tuned up on the merits of 29”. Finally out of the mists came red leader Coops, he had been cutting up some additional links to this new trail, or otherwise known as ‘he got lost’
Out of Archie and on to the tarmac, the aim was to head for Chiabannagh. We encountered an out of character head wind and mizzel! Up to this point, the evening had been lovely and benign, almost autumnal like. Mark and I took up the rear, again, on the climb up to Chib, but at least we were not getting cold at the top as the other waited! Straight though the plantation to the bottom car park, not a piece of single track to be had. All the while we could not believe the ability that Kerruish has developed to climb and ‘talk’, both at the same time! We think, but can’t be quite sure, but with his new bout of HRT treatment, that he may have developed a third lung. There was no mention of Victoria Sponge or Ginger Snaps, so we are not entirely sure yet, its early days, but we all must be on our guard!
Finally down a very misty Ballacotch and home along the railway line. We said farewell to a few and the rest of us sojourned to the public house, otherwise known as the Railway Inn. A few seasonal pints were enjoyed. Nice ride, pace was fast, I felt it. I long for the ‘slower’ days but the reward of a pint of Copper Dragon (the cause of many a down fall in Kettlewell LL tour 2011) was worth the pain. So we were all happy – Liam got his chocolate and had a lads party in a hot tub to look forward to, Coops was back in love with his full bounce, Kerruish was home studying recipes and was an inch away from lighting his own farts with excitement, Newshie was stuck in the lotus position smoking his own moccasins, Ali (who joined us for the celebratory pint) learned that that was someone who talked more than him!, Gav was delighted with his new bike and I, well I was happy to have a had a great years riding with so many good souls over so many good trails all in the great spirit of Mountain Biking!
Happy Christmas and a very happy New Year here is to much more of it in 2014!!
Ed – Post Script
It was noticed that on leaving the Railway, Coops had a flat tyre!!! Sabotage suspected……..Ali, watch your back…. because as Coops walked home he was about as happy as a bastard on Father’s Day!!!!!