Finally, after several days of no rain, and a lot of wind for maximum drying, the last of a month saw us hitting the hills again. Rode from a massage to Nelson's work and we had a smooth run in light traffic to top of Huntsbury. Got going, still nice daylight, musta been before 5.30, cos I'm pretty sure the sun was still up, if not, just gone... Rode up the jumpy singletrack checking it all out for later's descent, then on up the single round the knoll and onto the airstrip, then gravel grind to the top.
Into Vernon, and lights on even tho they still weren't quite necessary, but by the time we were lower down they were. Very gusty at the top there, making balance interesting. Spot's cush seemed bottomless as I wafted down the trail behind Nelson. Didn't feel that fast, but I think we were ripping. As we got round to overlooking Rapaki the wind was behind us so we had that blissful silence, nothing but the tires scuffing over the trail surface and the occasional clatter of the chain. Dusk truly fallen as we passed through the top of Rapaki, a few other lights about the place, and straight into Witch Hill. All open and tidied up, the first entry ruts now a big mound, and then into the usual rocky goodness, maybe slightly tidied. I cleaned it all, but I think Nelson muppeted along a bit, and I had a good run all the way round, suspension doing it's thing wickedly.
Onto the road and rolling, tail wind, and it was like 6.05. Good pace around and up to the Castle where we stopped for a short snack, getting moving before some lights that were approaching arrived. Turned out they were roadies, passing us above on the road as we approached the first hairpin bend. Into Castle Rock, which had seen a working bee on Sunday, lots of drains cut, and not too many rocks moved, tho one or two newly armoured (previously) soggy bits. Usual ping pong down here, I certainly got a good flow on, and the eyeopener for me was the climb, which I rocked on up, suspension assisting speed and flow, no stalls or stops as per hardtail stylez. Bridle Path top, we turned around and rode back up it, cleaning lots, but losing balance before the top, as usual (and i was going so well too!). At the top I suggested, how bout another run and back up the road, so, that was what we did. Back down, Nelson's turn leading this time. I'd left a bit of a gap and all the way to the first hairpin I barely made a dent in it. Nelson thought his run was better than the first one, but I reckon mine wasn't quite as smooth. He'd paused at the hairpin so I sat on his tail through the next sections til the climb where he dropped me again, but then on the upper rock armoured bog he lost it off the side, much to his chagrin.
Back onto the road, and climbing, ugh, then weeeeeeeeeeee down under the Tors and onwards, rolling for aaages. From the short climb we popped onto a sketch of a track on the left hand side of the road, saving the tires from the seal. This flowed nicely down to Witch Hill track which we bombed into. Clamber climb, I found a new line to the left of the step up in there, then had an awesome flow round to Rapaki-top. Nelson, not so much. Into the final climb, up Vernon, around, making it hurt - Nelson pointed out that these climbs are where the fitness comes from.
Last leg, across the Traverse then down through the rocks and tussocks, the latter of which stalled me, making my left testicle have a rather close encounter with my seat, which left me writhing on the grass for a few minutes. Yowch! Groaned a little more, then we got going again, finding a really nice sheeptrack line that led out to the end of the airstrip, good coast, over the fence, into the singletrack, Nelson falling off it again at one point, then it was all down, Nelson taking the first drop jump up there, me bypassing, then through the gate and on down, over the jumpies, jumpy jumpy jumpy, wooah, ruts, phew, jumpy, final drop, then double and down to the car. All good. Not as wet as it sounded on the boy's Tuesday ride. And it was like 7.26! Early finish.