It had seemed like a good idea. I got away a little early, the bike was freshly cleaned, lubed and adjusted and I have hills right behind me.
On many levels this plot had holes in it though. More so than even Alien³ where many of the cast died from editing rather than the regulation shiny-toothed double-jaw application or a smack in the head from Ripley. I shall step onto the down escalator and note the obvious mistakes as though they were those wee adverts next to subway escalators that always look squint, although it’s really an optical illusion. Or is it?
It was warm as I climbed the long track up The Slacks, sweat dripped from my eyebrows as a spun the pedals slowly. The sun shone, the sky was ice blue and I had to sit down and take a break at the level section at the old quarry.
I haven’t been on a bike in four months. Hell, I hadn’t even cleaned the bike since the West Highland Way. I think I may have had lingering issues.
I should have had a wee trial ride around the lower trails, part of the reasoning for going out for a ride was that the gentle spinning would be good for my twanged leg, but I got all excited and headed for the hills.
I sat at the quarry and pulled on a vest as it was cold. Somehow I hadn’t expected it to be that cold, with frost, and ice and well, wintery coldness. I don’t get that when I’m out on a bike.
The ground was hard, it crunched as I rode, and as I got higher the ground became porridge, where the oats were gravel and the milk was ice. My tyres were biting, but I was tired from the now unfamiliar exertion and was now a little rattled by the terrain.
But my confidence did slowly increase, and so did my speed. Apart from the stinging cheeks and watering eyes, it was like a summers morning up there.
I turned around Loch Humphrey and heard a loud moan above the chatter of my my drive train and the manic crunching of my tyres. I dropped the bike and ran to the top of the knoll to look at the frozen loch as it once again squeaked and let out another huge moan. It was so loud and so unexpected that I just stood and laughed. I watched for big cracks appearing and Russian submarines emerging, but the cold crept up on me again and I was glad to be generating some heat in the saddle.
The track was frozen solid now, the ruts were like concrete and any big stones were using their frosty coating as a lure to to snare the unwary, and although I did have a couple of mildly sideways moments, it was a joy tearing down the completed new trail, fast as well in this condition.
I could see the sun catching the treetops with a vivid orange spray and I raced the darkening trails, dodging frozen puddles and crossing ice flows with one eye shut in anticipation of disaster to find clear air at the Lang Craigs where I could drink in that familiar sight that never fails the excite, delight, inspire, challenge or confound me. The sun setting over my home.
I lingered. I love it here. But I love the long, fast descent to Overtoun and the A82 too, I did a 180° and headed to the top of the track through long dried grass, thick with hoar frost, amazed at how well the tyres were sticking.
The run was fast, and at times hairy. The ground was solid, there was water-ice, more frozen, angular ruts forcing constant changes in direction with me trying not to be jerky and inducing a slide. I found lines where I didn’t know ther could be one and by the time I hit the gate at the bottom I was grinning, panting, shedding snotters and I couldn’t feel my fingers.
I switched my light on and trundled into the dark trees where there was more ice than gravel. I walked the bike around the glowing white obstacles and hit the tarmac where I rolled downhill easy. Too easy. I stopped, pulled on a buff, extra gloves and the vest. The windchill cut me to the bone as a hared through the darkness. My hands might as well have been in arctic mitts, I couldn’t feel a thing, and by the time I got the the rush of traffic, gears were beyond me and using the brakes was going to make me cry at any second.
I negotiated the road somewhat unconvincingly, and got to my folks house where assistance was rendered in manner which made me feel like a nine year old boy who’d came home wet-through and frozen after playing in the snow all day with his pals. And my leg was throbbing like a bastard.
What an absolutely brilliant evening.