Sunday, 2 January 2011

Third Annual Chrimble Ride

Having done it three times in a row, the Christmas holiday midlands ride is now a legit tradition. The people and places have changed each time, but the game plan is always the same: meet up at Bob's folk's place and indulge in some local trails, pubs and curry houses. Throw in a cheeky fry up and you have all the ingredients for a fantastic trip. Notable by their absence, Jimmer, Mikey and Sexy Stu couldn't hit the trails with us this time. But Bob, Lou and Phil were there and we were joined by Kerry and Jess. The racing credentials amongst this lot are impressive to say the least. Phil, Kerry and Bob we're all top racers back in the day and Jess is currently making a name for herself on the gravity circuit. The trails around Shropshire are their stomping ground so a great ride is guaranteed. That's why I look forward to it so much each year.

Day 1 and we hit the Long Mynd trail. A National Trust owned area of outstanding beauty in Shropshire. The views were probably stunning, but we couldn't see them. As we climbed the fireroads we were shrouded in a deep mist. Every now and again, we'd spot a few riders, hikers and other wildlife, but for the most part the trails were eerily quiet. Bob had sorted me out with an ex-demo Count Solo Rose hardtail. A beautiful piece of kit that has since been purchased and added to the stable. The Rose has similar geometry to my Orange, but is aluminum so is much lighter. Climbing like a mountain goat and being super nimble on the descents meant I had a perma-grin plastered on my face the whole time. It even coped fine with the steep stuff, although I might sort it out with some burly tires for next year. Having gotten used to the Nomad's tank treads, skinny XC tires meant a few sketchy moments were had.

After a pork pie and jelly baby stop at the peak, it was time for a spirited single track descent back to Craven Arms - hitting some of the same trails we did on the very first Chrimble ride. One of my new year's resolutions is to crack the manual. It looks cool, for one but seeing Bob employ it so often in his regular riding made me realise how useful it is. He seemed to glide over and through stuff, and even bunny hops have so much more grace and accuracy when set up with a manual. Mastering this neat move is definitely on my list of MTB goals for the year.

Day 2 and me, Bob and Lou hit Eastridge Wood. An area of purpose built MTB trails with varying levels of gnarl (including two downhill black routes.) What was meant to be a quick blast around the dirt ended up being a full day of riding. Aching legs from the previous day's adventures were soon forgotten as we threaded Eastridge's super fine single track. Rooty and slippery with mud, we had to show some restraint in places. But we still managed some of the black routes, including some of the runs Bob used to race back in his hay day.

So, that's it for another year. Mud cleaned off, and nice new bike lubed and mothballed until my next trip home. This time next week I'll be back in NorCal hitting the local trails with the fellas there. But knowing I have a sweet ride back here, great trails to shred with fantastic riding buddies makes me (as I did last year) look forward to next year's Chrimble Ride already :o)

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