neil posted in bikes, Neil on December 4th, 2008
George and I arranged to go out for some night-riding practice in Edinburgh’s Pentland hills this freezing Scottish week. We headed out after work on the ice sheet that was the canal towpath. Seeing how icy it was, it was tempting to call it quits and nip back to a warm pub or living room. Its at times like this I remember this XKCD cartoon:
We persevered out to the water of leith. We rode dreading the quiet moments when the ice was so glassy that tyres were’nt cracking it. Thankfully the path along the Water of Leith provided crunchy crackling ice/snow and we made it to Bonaly without incident. From there it was a steep climb in snow. Halfway up we met two riders coming down. George says they looked like they were having a good time, I was just amused to see we were’nt the only dafties out in the hills. Coming out of the trees we were treated to a surreal orange landscape of orange sky lighting up orange snow with black undergrowth reaching through. The snow was loosish and deep enough to cause some problems ascending. I thanked my lucky stars (and lazyness) that I had chosen to ride with flat pedals while Georges SPD cleats filled with snow.
While contouring to our descent we took a wrong turn and wound up on a path heading far too deep into the hills. The snow made correcting this easy as we found some rabbit tracks going the right direction and descended in the Lagomorph’s footprints. We turned downhill above Dreghorn barracks, the path dissapearing into a bumpy field of snow. Old habits on this favourite descent guided me true as we half rode half skiied in roughly the right direction. All normal technical skills went out the window, weight well over the back wheel and the back brake heavy was my simple but effective technique. The last part of the descent has a fun stream crossing through a gap in a fence with a small jump, with increasing confidence I built speed towards it until my light revealled a huge blob of snow. Someone had built a snowman covering three quarters of the gap. I caught a flicker of something thin angling out from its tubby body and flattened myself against my bars. Its skinny spikey arm flew above me. Stopping, I took some pictures on my phone and performed a swift amputation. Job done, adventure had between work and sleep. Living for the weekend? Pffft! (though I’ve got something cool to do this weekend)