8am start and man it was cold. Heavy frost on the ground but a perfect cloudless blue sky promised much for the day. Me and Toss never really ride this early in the day and it was refreshing watching the day come alive whilst we scooted along the moors to The mast road. Down the Hole in't wall and even the runners were in a good mood, cheerily greeting us. At Comedy Corner, we noticed that there were a few jocksters already ascending the pike so even with our early start we still werent the first up. Indeed, by the time we got to the top is was fookin rammed with bikers, well 8 or so. Quick chat with them and we headed down to the old piss Stones. Coming round the corner from the pike path and right on the edge of the path as you sweep out was a rotting rabbit, I managed to miss it by millimeters and Toss had the same problem eugh.. Past more bikers heading towards the ICR but we took the right and along Belmont Road. Fast scoot along the bumpy surface and I soon realised that I had a very wet arse. My mudguard had spun round, a fact that Toss didnt see fit to point out, instead he just merely pissed his sides as my soaking riggot. I hate a wet arse, especially at the start of a big gritty ride. No doubt my ring would be chaffed to shreds by the end of it.
The Dam was still closed so we had to take the road (ergh) to the Cafe at Tockholes. Horror of fucking horror, turned the corner and the place was locked up. After a quick read of the opening times it turned out is opens at 10.30 so we only had 15 mins to wait. Bacon buttie, tea and carrot cake was the fuel for the day and it hit the fookin spot.
After the Cafe it was straight up Stepbank Clough and onto the moor. Lots of people here around and we passed comment on the popularity of the honey pots. Here and Rivi were rammed, but soon as you got just a mile or so away the whole place was empty. Bagged Darwen tower in good time and headed back over the moor. After the White House we crossed the quagmire, it was pretty bad, loads of deep standing water. Halfway along we came accross the strangest sight of the day. Slap bang in the middle on the moor, not tracks, and in a bog were to barrels (empty) of JW Lee's ale. WTF?
Toss tried to sample it but it was stale... nothing worse than stale ale.
Down to Cadshaw and along the chute to the Duck. Our new night ride path was thronged with Octogenarians, so we took the road and started the long long climb up past Crowthorne. We paused at the school to have a shufty at the works going on there and was passed by a racing whippet on a 29'er who fookin sailed up the tarmac faster that we would come down it. Awesome.
The final climb was over pretty quick and we were soon skirting past the body disposal plant and it fucking STANK! oh man, I never ever want to small that place ever again, and it only served to reinforce my long held belief that sinister acts are commited in that fucking place. The images that spring to mind as to what it must be like in there just dont bear thinking about.
Horseshoe first leg was ace, with Toss nearly clearing the steps, but at the other side we decided to head up to Pilgrims Cross and then arrive at Peel Tower from the rear. Was proper hard work even more boggy that Darwen but the views were ace. The trek over to Peel was harder work than I expected but we soon got there to bag number 3. Toss was in real trouble now with his back but he was putting a brave face on matters.
Down the lovely rocky steep drop to the horseshoe and we were heading home. Bumped into Mart here and stopped for a bit of a catch up. Didnt realise it was that long since I had ridden with him, but I had missed the last couple of STW rides at Hebden and Kirby Stephen. Said our goodbyes and spun out to the top of Crowthorn, the body factory smelling even worse this was around.
Path of least resistance as Toss was about ready to snap in half, we soon reached number 4, Turton after clearing the walkers over Wayoh Dam. Lucas Hill and the Quarry saw us home, 38 miles later and a brilliant day in the Saddle.