It feels as if we are suffering from some particularly depressing Manchester weather this winter, so much so that the enthusiasm to ride bicycles evaporates as soon the early morning alarm clock rings.
It’s probably (almost certainly) a normal winter, but a combination of a Manchester winter topping off a year that’s been dominated by the C word (in both negative senses) has meant that the Grassupthemiddle group rides have been few and far between, and when we have been out we’ve rarely been more than a few hours from home. Those rides have been precious, and much appreciated by us all.
By far the majority of rides have centred around our local coffee haunts, or rides to the bench to brew tea and eat cake, and really it’s not been that bad in relation to everything else going on in the world. Our Sunday morning rides have always been more about spending some time together to both catch up on the weeks news and also shake it off.
For me, I’ve been relying to a certain extent on the others to provide the motivation to get out and ride and just recently even that hasn’t been enough, waking up and looking out of the window to see sheet rain falling has been swiftly followed by a return to a warm bed, it’s an easy decision that the immediacy of being connected via Instagram to the others facilitates, a quick message to say that I’m bailing and back to sleep.
However, at some point it has to stop, and today it did, and surprise surprise it felt good to get out and spin some circles, the fact that the rain finally stopped made it easier, but the trails are in such poor condition that I stayed to the lanes for the most part, even these have been destroyed and are flooded, hub deep in places.
I’m very fortunate that I’m currently testing a prototype frame for our friend Sam at Singular Cycles, it’s his classic Peregrine revisited, the same classic geometry with some modern touches, and the ability to run big 2.4 inch tyres with mudguards, I really appreciated that today, those flooded lanes hide wheel swallowing potholes, the big tyres saving the day on a couple of occasions.
This all reminded me of another friend Mike who coined the term “muddy lane connoisseur” and today, riding these lanes on this particular bike, the term felt very appropriate.
I only rode thirty miles or so, at a pace that suited my current state of fitness, the ride started with coffee, there was lots of sunshine (which feels like a real gift right now) and I got home feeling so much better for the experience, proud to be a muddy lane connoisseur.
Words and pictures – Steve Makin