The scene was set. Mid February. Freezing cold. Two students helping each other home singing Live Forever, after one or two drinks up the bar. A perfect idyllic scene you might think. Well almost. Then I had to open my big mouth and suggest going for a ride. Once it was out there was no going back. Neither of us wanted to be seen to back down, probably a result of the Drambuie we’d been drinking. I always blamed Metcalfe for the amount of alcohol I consumed while at Uni. and he blamed me. Hey it was a system that worked well for us for three years.
The main problem with a midnight ride for us was that neither of us had lights for our bikes. We would be relying totally on the moon for illumination. The second problem was that this was mid Feb and you couldn’t even see the moon through the bloody clouds let alone get enough light to see the trail.
Once we had finished the stagger back to our house, and I do use the term house loosely, we quickly got kited up in ideal clothing for such a ride. Cycling shorts and track suit tops! Unfortunately in our haste to get out on the trial we made quite a bit of noise, the result being that we woke our other house mate who being a Tri-athlete was already tucked up in bed (sad boy). When we told him what we had planned, and he saw the state we were both in, he tried to stop us. This resulted in him receiving a volley of abuse revolving around his inability to pull any women. Unperturbed by this profit of doom we set off full of the joys of spring. We then made the only sensible decision of the night when we decided to take a route which we had ridden hundreds of times before, and which we thought we knew like the back of our hands.
The first part of the ride past without incident. The moon was threatening to peak through the clouds and every thing was as quite as a Hope bottom bracket, and this before we’d even got off road. Initially the route climbed steadily presenting us with few problems. The first downhill section however was through a small wood. Nice in the day but at night the trees quite kindly proceeded to block out any light the moon was giving us. This resulted in us not being able to see a bloody thing. We weren’t bothered though for we knew these trails well.
After my first crash, and after Metcalfe had picked himself up off the floor from laughing at me almost hysterically, we proceeded a little more gingerly. About half way around deputy Drambuie decided to desert us resulting us know realising that. yes it was definitely a bit nippy out. After about four more crashes and points where we were just letting the bikes roll and hoping for the best we reached the end of the ride. The only thing that stood in our way was a puddle the size of the Everglades.
Metcalfe suggested we ride around, but Deputy Drambuie was shouting at me “Get moving you plonker”. So I decided in my infinite wisdom to ride through. Unfortunately I got stuck half way across and was forced to plunge my left foot into the icy depths. I still maintain to this day that the water in that puddle was imported from the arctic because as soon as my foot touched it, my toes nearly snapped off.
The urgency to get home was now even more pressing; at least it was warm there, if at times it did resemble Lucifer’s armpit. Just one more downhill and a five-mile jaunt home, Ha! And they said it couldn’t be done. Unfortunately on the last down hill I was nearly knocked off by two deer jumping right over the top of me, and on the road home my foot experienced levels of frost bite which even Captain Scott failed to endure.
We eventually arrived home at about four o’clock, and after a quick shower we hit the pit, after all we had a lecture at nine in the morning. By the time I woke up I had finally regained partial feeling in my feet, enough to get me to Uni. for the lecture which Metcalfe and I managed to survive without falling asleep.
The moral of this story apart from don’t ever go drinking with Metcalfe, is don’t ever listen to a Tri-athlete, cause they haven’t got a clue. For while admittedly it was a bit crazy it was a great experience and one which makes mountain biking into the kind of experience that can change your life!