Last week was ace. What did I get up to? Well, let’s see… first there was…
It was my first ride of the year on the Professor, and a few tweaks were made – more air in the forks and rear shock, namely. We started the red route, and it went rather well. As previously mentioned, I’ve kept up a bit of fitness thanks to commuting by bike every day, but unfortunately I was still fighting a bit of a chest infection.
FUN FACT ABOUT MISSUS TOAST CHEST INFECTIONS! Due to being overly ladylike, chest infections tend to linger for me. Why? Because instead of blowing my nose, or coughing up phlegm, I tend to… well, choke it down. Snuffle it right back up, where it can be recycled.
As I rode around Dalby, I allowed myself to freely cough up phlegm and blow my nose like a trumpeter, as one of the joys of marriage is being disgusting without fear of reprisal. Or at least, that’s what Mr Toast and his musical bottom tells me.
And cough I did, to the point of nearly being sick. A definite benefit was that, since Dalby, my chest and sinuses have felt clearer than they had in months. However, at the time, the lack of breathing ability made it somewhat difficult to ride, and we decided to do half the trail instead of the full 20-odd miles.
Unfortunately, Mr Toast’s memory (or sense of direction) wasn’t quite as good he thought, and we ended up doing only 6 miles of red route, and 10 miles of road. It was a very pretty road, though. We saw a stag. That was nice…
After Yorkshire we travelled up to Scotland. As July is a bit hectic this year, we decided to get some early Glentress in this year in case we couldn’t make it for our anniversary. We stayed at our usual haunt, Glede Knowe, which was fantastic as always.
Somewhat stereotypically, it was beautiful weather on the drive up, and in the evening Mr Toast and I went for a lovely walk with t’boy down by the river, followed by a meal at the Traquair Arms.
The next day – the day we were riding – started off beautiful, but quickly became gloomy and overcast. The predictions of ‘light rain’ and ‘light showers’ were somewhat innaccurate, and we were instead faced with ‘fairly annoyingly persistent and not actually that light’ rain. For four hours.
The weather report was correct in surmising that the weather would improve in the afternoon – as we sat muddy and sodden in the cafe, the sun came out. Then the next day, when we were driving home… sunniest and warmest day of the year. Ho hum.
We weren’t actually too disgruntled – the trails are still awesome fun in the rain. The only issue is, after that incident on Pennel’s Vennel that one rainy year, I now have no appetite to hit the red in the rain. We did make one concession – we did the climb up to Spooky Wood, and then Spooky Wood itself.
The climb wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I remembered, and I also took to it with a bit more speed and aplomb than in previous years. I confess, I didn’t do the very first drop, but I did everything else after that. I didn’t get a burning sensation in my left thigh until right near the end, but my calves were screaming – I think I’m just a bit out of shape when it comes to off-road stuff! Jolly good fun though.
And… oh look! A picture of me with the meteorite Stane. How terribly original!
The blue at Glentress is definitely one of my favourite trails, if not the favourite. The climb up to the Buzzard’s Nest carpark is good fun, and the descent is also amazing – so swoopy, bermy and fast!
After Scotland it was back home, but on Friday we got to ride over Cannock Chase. As we knew we were coming over again on Sunday, Mr Toast decided to nobly escort me around the Monkey… given that I’ve not really ridden in much over the past two years, and that I’ve come a cropper a couple of times on it, it seemed a wise decision.
We took it very easy (translation: I took it easy, Mr Toast waited), and there were a few bits I gave a wide berth – I merrily bypassed the rock gardens on the original Monkey, and also avoided the Klondike rocks and the Woodbank timber feature. In hindsight I think I’d be fine with the latter, and probably be OK with Klondike as long as I take the left line instead of the right (as my wheel goes into the dip on the one rock and I get flung over the handlebars 50% of the time). Can’t be arsed with the original Monkey though – discretion is the finer point of not dying, as they say.
I’ll really have to get into the habit of riding the Monkey more – I’m sure it’ll up my speed and confidence (assuming I don’t fall off and die).
On Sunday I pootled around the greens… on a Duet Wheelchair Bike! Yes, Swinnerton’s have one now, so my mother can experience the joys of the Chase. She was somewhat disconcerted by the sight of an ambulance at the Rollers (broken collar bone, apparently), and she made me promise that I wouldn’t take her on the Rollers…
The Chase greens are generally lovely for wheelchairs – they’re not quite as potholey as the Tissington Trail – but there’s the odd bit that’s awkward. Some of the off-camber bits can be quite tricky, and returning on the green made me realise I had the choice of following the green through the stream (which my mother wasn’t keen on), or going over the bridge around the pool (which she was even less keen on due to the path crumbling away). Still, we got around in one piece, although we ended up doing a few more laps just around the ‘Walk for Health’ green route, which was very easy. TOP TIP! Carrying an extra 10 1/2 stone of mother on the front of the bike is great for fitness.
So overall, a great week for riding – I just wish we could do it more!