Email round only returned one other willing volunteer, Wors. He said he might have to cut his day short anyway as he promised to do some family stuff in the afternoon.
Saturday evening, I got the shattering news about Al, and as a result didnt really sleep much on Saturday night. Not good preparation. 8.30 comes along and it snowed a bit overnight ontop of a heavy frost. Jase turns up and says that the ground is OK actually.
We head up to two lads. Sun coming up was wonderful and there was a nice inversion over Horwich.
Down through Hole in't wall and the ground was rock hard. Fast rolling and loads of Grip. Up to the top of the Pike and just over a hour into the ride, we bag our first Tower. Rivi. Quick blast down and back along Belmont Road to Sheep House Summit. I was really surprised how many bikers were out early. Mind you I never ride locally at this time before usually we set off about 12. As the ground was so hard I decided to chance the Quarry. Probably not one of my better decisions as my front wheel dived into the bog well past the Hub. Fortunatly I already had my feet out so managed to avoid an OTB moment.
The Dam was all fenced off so we couldnt join the WW up piss poor, so we headed up on the road. I remember having my head down pedalling along here concious that the road runner was right up my chuff, thinking "man I HATE riding on the road". It was shite, nothing to hold interest, just dull spinning steadily up hill. When we got to Lyons Den and started the steep ascent up onto Darwen moor it was an almighty releif. The frozen moor was just ace. Loads of grip and really fast rolling. Quick spin and we Bagged number 2. Darwen Tower.
Jase announced that he was going to Bail at the duck, so we headed back accross the moor to the Cadshaw Descent. I nearly came an almighty cropper here. Flying down the track over some ice, I went straight through the surface, managed to stay on, but it kicked me over to some sold black ice which I lost my front wheel on. By more luck than skill I managed to stay half on the bike and holf doing the splits.
At the Strawberry Duck, I bid Jase farewell and headed down over Wayoh. Then began the long soul destroying climb up through Crowthorn School. This place fascinates me. The 1st National Childrens Home in the country to be set up outside of London. Thinking about all the kids that called the place home, many being shipped off to distant lands to start a new life. The place is derelect now, in the middle of a planning war between the council and developers. I find it strangly upsetting to see it so empty, the footy pitch overgrown, the rusting swings and the overgrown tennis courts. The history that the place has is astonishing.
Up to the Maggot Farm signalled the end of the climb. Sinister fookin place that is. I recon they feed the maggot on the bodies of slain gangsters.
My legs were really suffering now, probably as a result of the fast pace we set at the beginning of the ride. The horseshow bridleway was soon over and then the long climb up to Peel Tower. Last time we did this ride I managed to get up here, but not a chance today. I pathetically pushed most of the way up. So bagged the 3rd tower.... Peel.
I took the techy path down the steep face of the moor and rejoined Horseshoe. thighs were HURTING now and any uphill section had me close to tears. Finally reached the Maggot Farm and the welcome respite of the long road to Edgeworth. I cut over the path to the Damn, roundly ignoring the no bikes sign and stumbled my way to Number 4, Turton.
I cant remember much about the home leg, except it hurt. A lot.
It was a great ride out though, just what I needed, and after Jase had left, gave me a bit of chance to mull Al's death over whilst solo'ing the last section of the ride. Proper bit of Contemplation of life.