Fat Lad’s Tweet Rides – February: @Cheesekate’s cheesygrinthing

The February tweet up ride was organised with a, quite frankly, scary for me early and efficient manner. Kate offered her local trails as a venue for the second tweet ride. So Wednesday 24th of February saw me tootling down the motorway in Pugsley to the sunny climes of Nottingham.  My only experience of riding in Robin Hoods county had been a few years previous when Mrs Fat Lad and I had a steady pedal round Sherwood Pines (Click me for details).

I left the M1hell highway of speed restrictions into the outer urban edge of constant speed cameras. Despite the beautiful almost gothic Victorian industrial architecture passing my mobile white metal walls and toughened glass I successfully navigated to Kate’s house. After a quick call to confirm I was in the right county let alone street, Kate said goodbye to her late arrived relatives as I exited the van. This gave me just enough time to contemplate exactly how I was going to introduce myself to a pretty much unknown female. Do I just smile and say Hi? Go continental with a kiss on each cheek or plain old fashioned English politness with a handshake? My life is pretty much 24/7 of these internal little panics. I went for the handshake and introduced myself with the biggest “I’m not an internet stalker honest” smile I could manage. Sat in Kate’s living room, drinking tea and eating a pre-ride gingerbread man we talked life, work, bike stuff and our eeerily near identical bookshelf contents.

Introductions over it was time to get changed and head out to meet our guide for the day; Simon. The first trip out to the van resulted in me slipping off a step in a proper comedy moment and then a second jaunt into the cavernous rear of the van to get out the bike made me and the steed crash to the ground but this time with an audience. As I lay on the street laughing it had at least broken the ice…

Rolling through the streets and terraces of Nottingham still chatting away I couldn’t help but notice we hadn’t kicked the pedals round much and a mile of descending later I had the realisation that chances are I would have that mile of climbing to finish with. Waiting on the pavement beside the Infirmary roundabout Simon arrived to the minute of the agreed start time. Straightaway his classic racing snake body sat astride a classic kona hardtail singlespeed set my spider sense tingling. Kate and Simon started talking local routes throwing names of trails and woods abound. It’s reassuring to know that Mountain Bikers the world over have the need to moniker paths and patches of trees wherever knobblies rumble. Simon asked if had time for 30 miles “Hours in the day aren’t the issue my new skinny friend” I paraphrase “My stubby little legs however…”

At what felt like 400 mph we accelerated away and barely yards from the start point I was feeling out of my depth. The little mind killer crept in early, “Have i bitten off more than I can chew this time?” “Am I going to be left for dead in the wilds of Nottingham chewing on my chamois as the only means of survival?” “How do you get a ship into a bottle with those delicate little masts?” With the main road to our left and various industrial establishments and residential estates to our right we followed a thin sliver of singletrack nestled in this urban run twisting and turning in an area less than ten yards wide. At a junction of this ribbon of unbelievable and the tarmac reality I had to ask Simon: “you’ve only got 2 speeds haven’t you bloody fast and stop…”

More of this path lay ahead and our guide whippet told me that a steep but very short climb out of our microvalley was the worst climb of the day. I couldn’t but think he wasn’t telling me the truth. After a few miles of tight paths wedged in between the everyday of the outside world we entered Bestwood Park. Barely moments after the barely noticeable height gain promise I found myself winching myself up a sticky hardpack path trying not to grab the granny ring so early on. At the top I took a few snaps of the surrounding area and did my best to re inhale my lungs whilst Simon pointed out local landmarks and filled our ears with regional history.  Not too long after a mud slide descent we arrived at a dust bowl playground with multiple run ins.

Standing at the top of a descent I played my coward card early, not riding stuff that in the dark on home ground I’m sure I’d normally fly down. Kate rode a few showing me up on a 120mm bike by rolling them on a rigid singlespeed. Simon was up and down the slides and asked very politely if he could have a go on “the bounce”.  A fairly smooth run in with a drop half way down. Simon said he’d never managed on the fixed bike.

For. F*cks. Sake.

It was at that point any semblance of self esteem evaporated. He’d not only managed to pull my legs off singlespeed, rode things I’d think about twice on a downhill rig fully armoured but he’d done them all fixed. I grinned politely and handed over my steed to this maniac. He promptly cleaned it with no issues. Round the rim we rolled to the next and only run in I managed to conquer. The sandy awkward one. Go figure. After some more of the climbing I was promised there wasn’t any of we arrived at Kate’s favorite: Vanishing Point.

This tree lined off camber tight twisty berm lined toboggan run was so good, we all did it twice with Kate shooting off early on the second run to take the following pic:

We headed out of the woods with two muddy grinds to be topped out. In a rare moment of triumph I cam ” ” this close to clearing the first, which Kate and Simon attributed to having gears. But the second, ever so slightly 😉 shorter one I flew up. We exited out first wooded playground onto what could have been any British country road and for a few miles we sailed along the tarmac gossiping, chatting and breezing along in the so-very-nearly Spring like sunshine.

After the obligatory blacktop to woodland connector we were back under the leafless canopy flying around more wooded singletrack than I could shake a weary stick at. On a piece of fireroad climb I was told to flick off the pro-pedal and get ready to plaster a grin to my face. Rocketing down a narrow, eye wateringly fast, jump lip festooned, rocky amazing descent it was still all I could do with a 5 inch trail bike to keep up with the fixed wheel ahead of me. Later we stopped for a breather by a small log pyramid which without thinking I rolled up to and over. Funny how some trail obstacles scare the bejebus out of me yet others don’t phase me in the slightest. Kate distributed home baked tea loaf for us all to inhale and made me re-ride the logs a few times so she could get a shot:

With my moment of glory fading quickly it was back in the saddle and onto turning the pedals. At the next black top section with my two guides playing with speed traps, trying to outdo each others displayed max speeds, I begged mercy and asked how long we had left before we were done. After a quite evil fairly long road climb we peeled off to be treated by another fast cracking downhill run. Sadly on this and the next following it so quickly the flow was interrupted by cheery walkers. We rolled through the gorgeous grounds of Newstead Abbey and as I was forewarned about another soul crushing ascent I made a mental note to bring back Mrs Fat lad and her soul stealer.

The last sufferfest of the day was at a trail called something like the Dog Walker. I thought the trail had been named in that fine Mountain Biking tradition of naming paths after interesting incidents in group histories. Like the North Leeds crew’s “Screaming Farmers Wife” or the Pootle Crew’s “Pier’s Lament”. I was told I would have to suffer for my art and sure enough after grinding away up a steep bank of crush and run watching my solo geared friends disappear into the horizon it became clear why.

After a damn fine shot of Whisky we head home on familiar trails my weary legs willing myself up the last roads to Kate’s after thanking Simon for his awesome guiding and then bidding him fond farewell.

Back at Kate’s we discussed the finer points of Blog and Twitter netiqeutte whilst I was force fed another Gingerbread man to aid recovery. Back in the van and heading North I couldn’t help but grin all the way home, great trails with even greater company in a land nowhere near as dull or as flat as I’d been led to believe.

Good times.

Fat Lad

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5 Comments

  1. Posted March 15, 2010 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    I’ve done some of the ‘follow the simon’ rides too. He’s increadably quick isn’t he.
    The moment the trail goes downhill I can’t keep up.

  2. Simon
    Posted March 15, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    I think everyone in the office is wondering what I’ve been laughing it for the last 10 minutes… A fantastic write-up of a superb day. Let me know when you want to do it again!

  3. Posted March 15, 2010 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    Sounds a great day! Makes me want to visit Nottingham!

  4. Simon
    Posted March 16, 2010 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    Hello Amy, get yourself over here 🙂

  5. Posted March 18, 2010 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    hahaha!!! well worth the wait 😉

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