The day started normally enough.
Early morning chores, check up at the dentist, coffee and a sausage butty, standard day. About eleven I’d finished sorting out the internet and was starting to procrastinate, the weather said there was rain on the way late afternoon, the washing was almost dry out on the line…
More coffee and the washing was dry, time to ride!
The Singular Swift was in need of a shake down ride, a few position tweaks had been made and not yet tested, it was recovered from the cellar, spares and bottles fitted (four bottles of Nuun) and I was on my way. The trails were dusty, unusual for September and it was already damn hot and humid, very few people around and I was making good time towards the glass pyramid, a quick cup of tea at the greasy spoon and I was spinning along nicely.
Happy with the positional tweaks I’d made (17 degree stem to bring the woodchippers to the right height, saddle back on the rails 5mm and seat raised 10mm) I was enjoying the stepped descent down to the river until one if the fork mounted bottles flew out of the cage and hit me on the cheek.
In hindsight this should have given me a clue as to how the day was going to work out, however I was too busy enjoying the dust to care, in fact so much so that I decided to double my planned mileage for the day by heading out towards Macclesfield along the Middlewood Way. For those who don’t know it, it is a flat boring ex rail line, eight miles with no elevation gain, no skill required but I love it, its my gateway to the peaks.
At Macclesfield and the dark, ominous looking skies reminded me of the weather forecast. I decided to turn back rather than head into the peaks, a few odd spits of rain kept the tempo high all the way back to Marple.
After threading my way through the rush hour traffic for a few miles I once again hit the dusty trails, except they weren’t dusty now, in fact they were quite tacky, and a slowly deflating front tyre wasn’t helping. I decided to put fifty pumps into it to see if I could get away without having to change tubes, this lasted until the glass pyramid.
A quick tube change before the rain hit was what I was hoping for, what I got was a slow frustrating tube change in a torrential downpour, rain drops that filled your gob meant that it was a pointless exercise to put a jacket on, it was still bloody hot.
I’d been moving for all of five minutes when I felt that giveaway squirm at the back of the bike, the bloody rear was going down now, it was belting down and going dark…..
10 minutes and lots of swearing and I’m riding again, wondering why my Stan’s filled tubes have failed with no obvious causes, I’m absolutely soaked now, couldn’t be any wetter, the dusty trails of this morning are now small rivers the colour of gravy, I decide to get onto the road as I’m out of tubes and for the first time in years I’m not carrying a puncture kit.
This turns out to be both exhilarating and terrifying in equal measures, the storm that is now raging around me makes me jump out of my skin with every flash of lightning and boom of thunder, but these are nothing compared to the complete and utter arseholes in cars who seem to think that cutting up a cyclist and forcing him into the flooded kerbs is funny.
Anyway, I’m home now, unhurt, bathed and full of gin and tonic, and happy to report that there was quite a lot of grassupthemiddle on today’s ride.
Words & pictures – Steve Makin.