I thought after the bad weather last week we'd seen the last of the balmy summer evening rides, happily I was wrong, another cracking bit of weather so I had the day off with the family and set off early for the night ride. After reading Benji's hardtail less article the other week I decided I'd shelve the mmmbop for a while and rebuild the heckler - wahey the hooligan is back! Slightly leaner and with a lower front end with less travel than I'm used to. Climbing up barrow bridge and winter hill it seemed ok, bit bobby but not too bad. On burnt edge it just seemed livelier than my other bikes, dunno if it's low bb, lower bars so more weight over the front or geometry, dunno. Anyway decided san marino would be the perfect test run for a brand new build....hmm. Saturday was a nice sedate run, this was furious cycling, tore down, found a new "line" just before the big drop.
Take off at T land at L miss out the lump in the red circle, I mentioned this to johnny later and he said oh yeah been taking that line for ages....oh. Buzzing at the bottom, turned around and climbed back up. Did two lads next and was on the edge of control, nearly lost if a couple of times. Down the rooty wildeswood route, there's a section of wooden steps midway and the way the back end just soaked up the battering was amazing, coil shocks kick arse. School climb next and met up with Johnny near rivi where we picked up a couple more riders who wanted directions for a winter hill descent, "the best one" "well we're going to san marino anyway so follow us". Up hole in the wall for my third climb up winter hill, saw the rollers at the top had a chat with them. Hit the downhill just as fast as last time, arms and legs proper pumped by the time we hit the bottom. Over to belmont and up rivington road, not a barrel of laughs has to be said, we headed for great hill. Spittlers was covered without too much fuss.
Hit traffic on the top section of the downhill, couple of sheep who just would not get off the trail and ran ahead of me, did the downhill of the next section so quick I managed to freewheel all the way along Drinkwaters and to the steps, nice. Mid section is riding well just one mud filled ditch, bottom section the suspension kicked in, Johnnie was on his hardtail following me but when we hit the bumpy section he said I just disappeared, whoosh. Few dodgy moments on there again, hooligan bike really does seem to egg you on to push your limits. Was chatting to someone the other day, (can't remember which poor sap got me onto the subject of bikes) about crashing and I was saying I don't crash often, I'm fairly conservative and keep within my limits but I'd had more near misses in this ride than the last month! Felt faster than the hemlock too, no idea if that's coz it actually is or whether the hemlock is smoother and more controlled so just feels slower. Without a load of boring back to back testing with a stop watch and GPS speed reading I guess there's probably no way to tell. Bike feels awesome tho, if slightly scary. Cake stop at the bottom as my legs were feeling proper frazzled, full of energy providing butter, sugar, fruit and mental inducing strongbow which can be the only explanation for my subsequent behaviour. Back to rivi via anglezarke and as we'd skipped the pike earlier I decided to head up there, was feeling ok spinning up. Was 10:15 by now still fairly light but all the towns had their lights on.
Down the drops faster than I probably should in the dying light, along georges powering passed a car gingerly negotiating the rocks and bumps, then I figured "hey another trip up winter hill would be a right laugh, a san marino hat trick". Spun wearily up hole in the wall again, going up the road I was getting that chilled out endorphin vibe, a sea of cotton grass either side of me swaying in the breeze, views out over to the sea to my left, twinkling lights of bolton and manchester to my right, buzzing from a fantastic ride I was tempted to have a lie down in the grass and soak up the atmosphere but it was getting late and I had to keep moving lest I seize up. San marino was taken a little slower in the twilight, lights definitely needed now, even stopped for a rest halfway down. Down belmont road, up scout rd, skipped the quarry this time and went straight to the car park where a couple of figures around a car fled at my approaching lights, hmm wonder what they were up to. Dropped through smithills and coasted home down the road to home, what an excellent evening's entertainment. Legs were burning so a cold hose down in the backyard while I waited for my pizza to cook, big mug of tea and another big slice of cake and a sleep of the righteous. Mapped it out as 40miles and 6000ft. Get. In.