Wednesday Night Mountain Bike Social Ride - No.4
October 10th: not a date you would normally associate with 24deg C on top of the North York Moors. Well ok I may be exaggerating a little but we have had some amazing warm evenings of late; certainly a lasting reminder of the fabulous summer we have had. Apparently if it hit 24 in London it would be the hottest recorded October in history!
Our aim in getting the social rides set up on a Wednesday night was to get a regular riding scene going for the locals with the hope the word would get out and attract riders from a little further afield. A month in and never did we think 32 riders would be out pedalling the Fryup trails in the dark.
Setting out from the hub just after 6.30 with the light rapidly dropping we pedalled across the field onto the road for a nice roll down the valley getting everyone’s legs spinning and covering ground quickly. Looking back over my shoulder and seeing 50 thousand odd lumens of LED light burning a hole in the night really is spectacular and gave quite a humbling feeling as to how the group has grown so quickly.
The intention with choosing a route for the Wednesday night rides is to give the fast riders a bit of a run on some sections; whilst allowing our newer riders to enjoy tracks that don’t totally intimidate and scare the living daylights out of a novice member of the group. The 2 hours we have gives us a range of about 8-12 miles depending on the weather and ground conditions. Given the fact that the ground is still pretty solid in most places, the higher end of the range is what we are trying to eek out of the rides.
The route set for this ride was a real good snake about the local bridleways and really showed how you don’t have to venture far from Hub to string a good loop together. After the initial run down the valley on the road we turned onto the first climb of the evening up to Hill House Farm at the other end of Fairy Cross Plain Hill where the Hub is sited. Across some grassy fields and the first obstacle to catch a few out was a rather stinky spring bog: I had placed a few strategic rocks a few weeks prior to help a hop and skip style on foot crossing but a few keen riders ploughed straight into the soft squelch to their peril of been nearly knee deep in clag… that always has the smugness meter maxing out with those that picked the clean way across.
Heading onto the moor section of the hill the group made swift progress back to the head of the ridge before dropping off the side into Little Fryup via our family route bridleway descent. With such a big group out, the time from the lead rider to the sweeper was always going to take a while. The regroup at the road after clearing the descent down Walkers Plantation was a perfect point to split the riders into a swift and a steady group. This allowed the flow to continue without blowing the legs off those getting used to the night rides and the more experienced fitter riders getting cold.
Off we headed with Phil bringing the second group along a few minutes after I had led the faster group onto my wheel and back onto the lower Bridleway towards Crag Farm. Typically, of course no sooner had we got blasting down across the fields the lead group suffered a small mechanical and allowed the masses to reform… no matter, a swift chain fix on Ali Jackson’s machine and we were away towards the Danby road and Duck Bridge.
Night riding sets its own challenges for a rider and as a group can be an even bigger test as you get very focused on your own line:it is a lot harder to check the position and speed of the rest of your group. Leading a group is even more of a task, as you can only see a bright white light and silhouette of a rider:not the proper identity of who you have with you, so trying to count the riders through and know all your group is herded together is a bit of a nightmare. This means the riders string out a fair bit on a smooth fast road section: cue the mayhem of Duck Bridge. So, the route was to follow the lower road line into Ainthorpe and then climb up to the tennis courts ready for the climb onto Ainthorpe Rigg… oh well let’s go up the hard as heckers Danby Castle Lane shall we (Karen)? It’s only 50 metres right? Ok more like 500 and can break the will of a tired rider not expecting to haul up such a draggy bit of tarmac, good job no one was tired huh!
No major trauma though and once back on track and onto the singletrack climb up onto Ainthorpe Rigg, in the dark it’s weird how what can be long hard climb seems to whizz past in a few minutes. This I think is certainly the case with all the climbs around the hub: perhaps it is just me, but I think a few others have made the comment of how the top of a hill arrives way quicker and seemingly with less effort when the lights are out. Feel free to let me know if you disagree.
With the clock ticking and food back at the hub wafting across the valley trying to entice us backthe group was given the option of a straight back for pulled pork or head up the moor road for a fast blast down the Round Hill bridleway descent. Surprisingly most of the group opted to haul up New Way and add another couple of hundred metres to their evening’s altitude. The remnants of the day’s high winds were still blowing head on the way up, and any power left in the legs was getting truly tested as the road kicked up to the turn back onto the moor path. Good job the final descent is a good one!!
Round Hill brings the riders back to the Hub within a mere few metres of road till you turn back onto the drive- a great finish to a cracking ride if I do say so myself. With the second group back already and sat tucking into the evening’s food, the café was packed with all the riders and other family members as well as some of the 17 yogis that had been practicing in the function room.
Again, the numbers coming to join us for our social ride is amazing and we really appreciate the time everyone is sparing to get up to us. As winter approaches and the weather hardens we hope you all will still venture to the Hub for our fortnightly rides.
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