An early Autumn ride, the poor weather not enough to dampen the spirits of the riders brave enough to still venture trailwards. The hollow slam of boot doors and the pre ride excitement chatter charges the evening air. Out of the car park the consistent whir of knobblies on tarmac give way to the sighs and swears of despair as we hit our first off road hill. Heading suddenly upwards the panic crunch of mistimed gear shift offend the ears, the more prepared whisper their shifts with an almost inaudible click, chains lifting gracefully to larger cogs.
Swapping the squelch and wet slaps of mud for the crunch and rolling scrrr of gravel the trail levels out, the lung rasping exhalations of the less time earned riders joins the air. A simple trail obstacle mistimed produces a gentle yet vindictive Scottish lilt tinted “oh fuck” from our just north of the border ex-pat.
Drivetrains grind, Japanese, American and British technology sacrificed to West Yorkshire’s own very particular filth. Our grime doesn’t discriminate, it devours without prejudice. The to and fro of ride positioning swaps the click click click ker clack of poorly maintained bikes with the simple buzz of lovingly cared for wheels rolling over hard pack.
A breather. Laughter and exasperated cries of “bullshit!” ring as a response to tales of trail derring do. The bungee rope of front pack speedsters to tail end charlies slackens. “All on!” is the rallying call, simple click of spds engaging and the cord of riders is taught once more. The howl and wounded small mammal squeal of wet brakes announces the sudden left hander. On our patchwork of suburb post industrial trails you can never really escape the artificial. Overhead pylon supported powerlines hum crackle and hiss with the autumnal moisture laden atmosphere.
Trail positioning, come in wide and pedal hard. Wind it up, all elbows, shoulders and lactic burning legs. Local knowledge. The lip, the briefest moment of held breath silence and tyres kissing or slamming soil. Nearly finished. Warmth and welcome of the pub calls. We find blacktop again. Rolling downward kinetic energy converted into the swarm of Hope hub ratchet and pawl symphony.
I’m not often the conductor of this joyful mechanical noise but I’m always a part of the orchestra.