Yay, so good to get out tonight, and to finally test my new back wheel, which i got on the bike last night. Nelson picked me up and we headed for the upper reaches of Mt Pleasant, the suburb, not the hill, where we parked up the top of Clearview Lane, and rode up to meet the others on Upper Major Hornbrook. We found Wazza and Wayno in residence, soon to be followed by Pete (who we probably should have carpooled with) and then Stevo, Tones and Robin arrived in the van. A good posse. The others (other than Steve) admiring all the new lights Nelson, Pete and me had.
Off up John Britten reserve track, a little soggy in places, and becoming quite the U shape in sections, but firm enough and a good route up. Bit of a regroup before heading around towards Cavendish, then Nelson came up with the idea to mash it up a bit and we headed up Broadleaf Lane to take the singletrack downwards to Cavenish Saddle. Great run down here, really fun wee blast, getting to know it a little more, and in good nick. until you're on the teddington, where it's sketchy and half of us (not me tho) missed the final bend before the stile, nearly losing it over handlebars etc...
On down to the saddle and then into a new-to-the-others track, switchbacking and forthing up towards the Gondola building. Quite a grunty wee climb, got the better of me in a couple of spots, even walking one short bit, but it gets better as you get higher, til a nice gentle finish. Large regroup up top, with some of us doing a lap of the building, and Robin following up the rear via a totally different route. Back off we headed down, quite a blast switchbacking our way back down to another regroup before heading back up Mt Pleasant.
Climb, grinding away to start, once off the tedd'chip it got a lot better, smoother and quieter and nicer. Another regroup at the gate and a snack for some, then up we went under the pylon, having lost Robin somewhere (he'd headed back to the cars), and the descent began. I sat on Nelson's tail and Pete was on mine and it was fun watching Nelson's wheel skittering around the place on the rocks, and having him guide me down the trail, him having all the surprises and me having the 'flow' other than where Nelson led me off piste. Me in turn, leading Pete off piste a few times too, not staying close enough on my tail, perhaps. Everyone had fun down this section, and at the bottom we parted ways, the group splitting in two.
Steve, Wazz, Wayne and Tony headed back round the top of Greenwood, while Nelson, Pete and me, the 'manic' ones..., headed for the bottom. I led the whole way, holding my own pretty good, considering their flash bikes and my dirty old hardtail... Anyway, Nelson got pinballed on the narrow rock gap below the top switchbacks, otherwise was all good til the usual wet spots just after that. Gloopy gulch was pretty good, having seen some lovin' on the weekend, but much lower down, after the cattlestop near the final valley, i could see the glistening dirt of the track and thought "uh oh!". Soggy. As. in the dips of the usually pumpy section before the creek, which was flowing, followed by a couple more wetspots, especially the slip i crashed in once upon a time, then the rest was awesome. Juuuust making it through the first rocky up, having a single dab-push to keep moving, but not stopping, and then blazing down the rest of it.
Then we started out easy up the road, slowly getting faster and faster it seemed, legs starting to burn the higher we got, talking the whole way too. At the top, really feeling it, and into the blast down John Britten - sweet as, loose as in places with the sketchy softness, but gooooood. Said our goodbyes to Pete and roared down the pavement to our car, clearing off most of the loose mud really well, mouth's firmly closed and eyes at the ready, soft dirt flecking and splecking up around us.
Verdict on new back wheel. REALLY nice actually having a true wheel. wideness makes tire noticeably grippier, especially in tonight's riding conditions. and since, lifting bike in and out of its perch in my garage, noticeably lighter. i think its has less rotating weight even tho it's only slightly lighter than the previous cheepy.