After a drive up from Manchester on Thursday night, we rode around Dalbeattie on Friday morning. Unfortunately like last time the weather was the nasty side of grim. Thursday night saw a torrential downpour which meant that the ground was already saturated and the day long drizzle didn’t help either. The fireroads were dragging and some of the Singletrack was boggy, but it was still a top place to burn around on the bikes.
Unlike last time we took a bit of time out to ride the slabs. For the uninitiated these are fairly massive steeply sloping granite faces, complete with eroded faults and cracks. Once you’ve rolled in you’re committed, but we all gave our best on this. Towards the end of the day on a section of rocks I managed to catch the rear wheel and sustain a pinch puncture.
For lunch we headed over to Mabie and the ace cafe cum bike shop. After soup and a combination of sausage and haggis butties we headed off in pursuit of the red run and the infamous darkside black run. Conrad and I had wisely missed this out on our trip three years ago, but a brief emergence of sunshine gave us the encouragement to try it.
The truth is that even with Stick-E rubber tires, appropriate use of tyres, brakes and handling, the wet wood (especially the natural timber as opposed to the cut materials) was just too slippery. We mucked about on the first section down to the lake and then headed up to the the start of the double black diamond. Puncture number two struck here with a thorn. The challenge of the double black diamond stuff was far too much. The combo of the tretcherous surface and tired legs and challenging trails was just too much. After a few offs and some near misses we decided to head back to the red.
The red run has some of the best sections of any man made trail I know. The bermed corners, jumps and drops were a great combination. It was in one of the later sections that a rifle shot signalled the end of a days riding at any pace. The Kenda Nevegal that had been doing an ace job had blown the side wall just above the beading. I sent everyone else ahead and rumaged through the rucksack for a tyre patch. Fortunately a Smarties cake wrapper saved the day and a cautious trip back down to the cafe was achieved.