When I offered to lead one of the www.natsmtb.com rides this weekend the weather was warm and sunny. I thought it might be a bit colder in December so I decided on a short ride from Hope in the Dark Peak. Nothing too heroic, cafe at Ladybower half way round to get warm and have something to look forward to.
I didn't realise at the time how bad the weather could/would be.
The Thursday before I'd recce'd the route in the dark (with an owl) and it was hard work, especially with a dicky tummy :-/
I must admit I didn't spend long weather checking on Saturday night. I think I'd been lulled into a warm secure summery blanket that I'd not mentally shaken off. Basic weather said cloudy and a bit chilly - shorts should be fine - I'll take a waterproof just in case.
16 riders met at Hope on Sunday. Drizzle. 1 new rider (Shaun) - only had the bike a month, trainers, football shorts and fingerless gloves - concerned I am.
Hope Cross - all OK. Rain.
Down the Beast (cleaned it again :)) - nobody died - Shaun and others walked a lot. More Rain.
Up Hagg Farm - everyone still OK. Cold rain.
Down Lockerbrook - sleet - cold - Shaun's still smiling!
Cafe for coffee and pasties - sodden hands. Dyson Handriers don't dry gloves - more sleet. Shaun's rear brake lever is broke, threaded adjuster. Shaun pulls out a pair of waterproof trousers. I think they saved his life. Some riders (not Shaun) decide to ride back along the road - madness!
I drag Shaun up the Landrover track - half the group decide to cut back via the Beast (incl. Shaun - still in good spirits!). Rowlee Farm for the hardcore into cutting sleet as the weather really deteriorates. Cold wet hands now being frozen by icy northerly and sleet.
Four more riders do a sneaky footpath cutback bail to The Beast ascent. Only 2 of us left to do the Roman Road up and over. Continuous sleet leads to a frozen river down the track, but it's still rideable - we were right. Hands frozen solid and unresponsive for the descent. Back onto the road and we're jubilant we have survived. We're tough. We fought the mountain and weather and won!
But, one false move, puncture or twisted ankle and we would have been right down at the bottom - Mountain Rescue time.
Juddering in the car, struggling to get out of the wet clothes I didn't feel tough.
Thankfully everyone made it back. They came through looking cold wet and bedraggled in dribs and drabs - including Shaun.
I'm sure he'll be back...