Weeks ago I organised a ride out with some friends and family. Saturday morning came around and as I hooked the bikes down to load the car, Tyrrell’s bike had a flat on the rear. No time to fix it here, so it’s bundled into the car with a track pump and spare tube. It’ll get fixed on arrival at our destination.
We all headed over to Llandegla Forest Park in North Wales for a day of riding and adventure. We assembled around 11am, although Tyrrell didn’t turn up until after 12. Still I set about fixing the flat on his bike while we waited, managing to snap the tyre lever off my Hummer trail tool whilst I’m at it. The potential scowling from the majority that might have resulted from the tardiness of certain members of our group was offset by the quality of the Lemon Drizzle cake and coffee from the cafe at the trail centre.
In the end we headed off onto the trail. Chris and Phil on the burly Kona hire bikes that are available for rental through the shop and Iain on his classic Mongoose IBOC. It’s been years since I’ve seen an early 90’s mountain bike. Times have changed and styles have moved on, but back in the day most, if not all, of us had a low slung cross country bike of similar ilk. Iain wasn’t feeling too great and after seeing his breakfast, last night’s dinner and beer (that had accompanied a dismal England performance in the foot the ball World Cup the night before) again, he bowed out early and followed the Blue to get him back to civilisation quicker.
Everyone made it through all of the tricky fast sections with no major damage. There were a few bails, but no broken bones or bikes. When we stopped for some food just at the top of Badger’s Rise where you come out of the woods having just climbed up from a long black section, Tyrrell, my South Arfican mate, pats one of his jersey pockets and then goes pale. His car keys are missing. Cleverly he’s taken the key fob for his VW off the big set of keys so he’s just been carrying the small black device. In the back of his jersey pocket. Which he then discovers has a key fob sized hole in the corner of it.
We head back up the trail to where about 15 minutes earlier he’d gone over the handlebars to inspect the local flora. No sign. We then scour that entire section of black. No sign of it there either. Tyrrell heads off to let the rest of the group know whats happened while I go and do the Dave the Fox section very slowly scanning for the missing key. It doesn’t help that the key is the same size as pretty much every stone and pinecone on the trail.
I regroup with the others. Tyrrell has phoned his missus who is with the four kids at Chester Zoo. She is not too impressed with the news. He’s then headed off to go round the trail in reverse looking for the key. As two other riders who were taking a break at the same spot helpfully pointed out, it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack. Pretty much everyone winces at the prospect of having lost the car keys.
Iain turned up back at the centre to remember that Kathy has his keys, wallet and phone and she’s out walking with Clayre and Isobel. He’s stuck waiting, cold and alone until they get back an hour later. He’s gone by the time the rest of us eventually get back to the visitors centre. No one’s handed any keys in. We have some late lunch. Then a drink. Then some cake. About 4pm I phone Tyrrell and remind him the trail centre closes at 6pm. Unfortunately so does Chester Zoo. And the AA don’t do a return to home service for lost keys. Around 5.15 Tyrrell comes back. He’s scoured the whole route he’s ridden. In some cases more than twice in each section. Still he didn’t find his keys, but he did find me a new tyre lever for my Hummer.
The situation’s explained to the staff at One Planet Adventure. It’s agreed we’ll leave the Touran in the carpark overnight and pick it up tomorrow with the spare keys kept in Manchester. The girls have made it to Chester train station via a taxi by the time Kathy and I drop Tyrrell off. We don’t envy his journey home. We collected his car this morning following a lengthy discussion on the way there most centred around never losing a set of keys again…
Photos from the ride and the walk the girls did are up on Flickr.