Riders :– Coops, Seamus, Neil, Westy and 3 guests

This evening marked the sad end of the STIFFY – Discarded, strewn onto the hard tail scrap heap, abandoned in one of the many sheds (awaiting retrospective planning permission) in the leafy garden suburb of down town Crosby – But before the cruel execution was to be preformed a lonely two Loaghtans, Coops and myself, were joined by Neil, the boy West, new comer fresh from South Africa way (via Derbyshire!) and two from the Zoo, or was it the Circus?? – 6 in all set off up the Staarvey unaware of the somewhat ‘holly leaf’ shaped route that Squadron Leader Coops (title earlier bestowed upon him by HRH Charlie who had a few spare honours left over due to no shows) had in mind. Down Laurel Bank onto the main road then a short road ride to the ‘run the gauntlet’ rise that is the Vaish.  Then back on the Staarvey Road and on to the head of Mannanin’s Chair.  Luckily as Mannanin had shed his cloak earlier in a vein attempt to put the Royal visitors off track, the clarity of the early evening air was clear, sweet, spring like and middgy free so the run was mellifluous and packed with mud and fun on a somewhat soggy stretch up to the Cronk Y Voddy straight.  Quite a bit of road led us to the top of Spooyt Vain which exposed us to the challenging decent, which has definitely reshaped in time, but once the traversing and right lines were achieved the smell of hot breaks could be picked up again!  No river crossing this time as it was reaching its spring tide highest, or no? wait was it the deluge the night before?  On back up towards Begarrow on the energy sapping tarmac, so much of the dam stuff.  Then left onto Southfork Drive, no? its called what??……….well you could have fooled me???  WTF is that monstrosity?? How did Coops not get planning permission for his 18+ garden sheds and this ugly eyesore was allowed to blot and even block the landscape???  Anyway fuelled with proletariat rage Coops and I let rip down Cooildarry into Glen Willan all the while worrying about the new appearance of several ‘quick sand’ hollows in between leaps and the ever grabbing brambles and gorse flanking on either side.  Allegedly we were spitting out loose stones as a rear guard action to slow down the others, but as there is no photographic evidence I deny any wrong doing on my part.  A quick check for trustworthy tyres and off again passing the smoking chimney cottages with the smell of wood burning stoves and sintered break pads – Coops now had no back break, not that he uses them much.

Back south and a quick gloopy mud loop around the Berk, Middle Berk, Lower Berk and Berk the elder etc etc etc and back onto the coast road.  Our new riders envisaging the home straight was in site now only to be told we were going back UP and onto the Staarvey again (see the holly leaf shape???) with the treat of Lhergycolvine which a blast and with the downhill eminently rideable after the quagmire of the higher ground.  Along the Switch Back, with Mannanin getting out his watering can, we ventured pastures new around the back of the Giants Grave where we paid our dues to two Lamas looking suitably pissed off with Mannanins precipitous offerings – A far feckin’ cry from the dry dusty trails of the Andes we all concurred!!  Anyway, final assault home and a nice deep bike wash through the ford as we returned to cars and vans and a surety of a hot mug of tea and a marmite sandwich within our imminent grasp!!  Great ride, a good leg buster and so good to get out in such fantastic conditions with some cheerful like minded mad men!!!!!

The Stiffy was placed in the back of the Custard Bus, stripped of its dignity and front wheel…never before has a mechanical steed ever been so faithful through the dark and tempestuous winter months only to be relegated to shed obscurity, ironically the week before the annual bike trip………it’s a cruel cruel world….But bring on the full bounce, there are virgin hills to be attacked on that HUSTLER….Wonder is will Coops get a HANDJOB next????

Seamus (Hamish)