General Lucifer is a chum of mine on another cycling forum
Here is my account of our weekend ride on 29ers
Mrs Satan had finally consented for Beezelbub's gay lover from down south to be allowed to visit his lair. Contrary to popular opinion it is no fiery pit of molten lava, instead itís the complete opposite, cold to the core.
The devil was clearly at play, arriving at Kings Cross the locomotive had been delayed for technical reasons - Northern Muppet Rail is technically a bag o' shite. Finally a different than planned steel chariot carried me to Leeds, as I approached the banks of the Styx the temperature sharply dropped off. Upon arrival a strange 'unchback picked me up with his shire horse and cart, - they are not quite as backward as expected up there, having recently adopted that key invention known as the wheel (though they have yet to appreciate that it should be round).
The Devil is a charmer, as are his family. He is a cunning sort, and I was welcomed into his abode, the ravaging hordes took my bags and I was escorted to my chambers for the weekend. This was all to lull me into a false sense of security. Conversation, food and fluids flowed freely, while the snow fell outside, with its deceptive beauty like so many of the devils ways. With a bellyfull of curry I drifted off to slumber, imagining the day to come of gliding through snow.
Eventually the morning came and I was summoned for a bowl of gruel and the peparations for the days toil were made. Wrapped from head to to in angelic Rapha topped off with "The Bonk's" muff I ventured out into the glorious looking day. The snow glistened, the sun reflected across the white frosting gave everything an air of purity and innocence. As with so much of Satans connivings looks can be deceiving, my bronchiols promptly collapsed as the cold air rushed in, I could only wheeze an obscenity as my respiratory tract tightened.
Soon we were off, a brief climb and descent on recently salted roads followed by "turn right, trail head just after the pub." As a novice I was wondering what this meant, it soon became apparent - we were now drifting off the clear roads and into danger. Suddenly everything I knew went out of the window, I tensed up and started yanking the breaks. Matt was confident on his ss frigid steed, despite mechanical suspension I was nervous and twitchy and it showed. With tense arms and me clutching at the levers my bike was like a young skittish foal being broken in. Obstacles diverted my gaze, target acquisition making it even harder to focus on finding a line, so I veered towards the holes and and branches I was trying to avoid.
Matters did not improve at the bottom of the hill. The leaves had not yet composted and mulched down and now they were frozen crisp with a covering of snow. With trepidation I was going slowly over this uneasy ground, my wheels kept suddenly sinking and I discovered there were puddles of near frozen water under the fresh looking surface. I knew I did not want to put a foot down in these conditions, the idea of a waterproof sock full water that had just been covered with a layer of ice did not appeal. As the day progressed I came to realise that my trepidation on this surface was actually making matters worse, if taken at speed the leaves could be skimmed over. There was then not enough time for the wheels to sink and the big 29er tyres had the effect of snowshoes, keeping me bouyant on the treacherous surface. With enough speed I could conquer the treacherous surface, my Jesus like powers could enable me to hover and float, where Gods son can walk on water, I could skim across frozen leaves!
Much of the first hour was learning how the bike was going to handle on the novel terrain and surface, this was after all my first ever snow expedition. How tight could I lean into turns, how to weight the bike for climbs and how to bail quickly when the rear wheel decided it wanted to perform donut arcs going up hills. The unstable surface made it a very physical day, much more of an upper body workout than usual. In the evening I struggled to tie my shoe laces, my arms and shoulders were so tired.
It took about 30 minutes for me to actually get warm and work up a sweat, the garmin heart rate monitor does not work on dry skin, so when looking at the stats for the day that was the indicator I had started to get warm. The first climb was really taxing and halfway a frozen tree root sent my wheels in unexpected directions and suddenly the Soma became a very expensive zimmer frame with disc brakes. Matt and I were fairly matched, we both seemed to bail at similar points on the hills, there did seem to be a maximum inclination we could handle before traction and balance were lost. Once wheels started spinning they just compacted and smoothed the snow making it nearly impossible to regain grip.
Once I was warmed up and becoming confident the day became a delight. Lucifer is clearly a twitcher, so was pointing out birds of prey and flocks of birds, describing them in great detail. He is clearly a keen naturalist (thankfully not naturist, though given how cold it was if he were like me there would have barely been an acorns worth of naughty bit to expose0. His offer to try to show me a brown trout rising in a gully was not a filthy euphamism. We both relaxed and got nattering, this helped my confidence, rather than worrying about the terrain I was distracted by him pointing things out, natural features such as a ferrous spring that left a bloody strea for us to ford, Post Hill where at the turn of the last century the Yorkshire Evening Post had covered a hill with bricks for the new sport of motor cycle hill climbing and much more. With this relaxation came a flow to our riding our bodies supple, brakes were used less and we raced down hills, and floated across the boggy leaves.
Our day was and thrilling and pointless as any manly venture could be. We had plenty of risky moments, potential for hitting trees, rocks and falling into icy rivers. Though coming close to all of these hazards none had been fully realised. As we crested the final summit of the day and came back full circle to the beginning the sun was setting. Between the orb and the horizon was a fluffy cloud protecting us from the glare. The edges of the obstructing object rather than interfering with a perfect sunset, actually enhanced it into becoming fiery Mandlebrot set of pink, orange and red.
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