Options. That’s how you handle 22 people showing up all at once. The weather threatened to be perfect on Saturday and awful on Sunday. Get two days of riding in on one day, no problem. Just pick your distance.
The obligatory pre-ride photo for search and rescue documentation along with a brief description of the route options and etiquette was handled by Intrepid Reporter. A ladies group formed up and was led from the back by Intrepid Pit Master. 40kms out to Levee Junction and back to ZK for refreshing adult malted beverages. Intrepid Pit Master attempts to slow everyone down with BBQ on Sunday.
The more stable Alphabet Groups headed south with a brisk tailwind to the Bus Stop and a brief assessment of the mechanical challenges of The Dutch BrokenBallen and Water Flea. Better judgement failed to surface and everyone continued on towards Pete’s Villa. Winds from the north picked up and caused the peloton to string out quite a bit heading in to Levee Junction. A lead group broke away heading for Mt Atyrau while the remainder discussed the shorter options. A final decision on Horse Bath, Zen Pond and return was the route plan. Near beer gravity kicked in and drew the group in.
The distance team arrived at Horse Bath and came upon a substantial herd of local equines being guided by a cousin of Mr Lada. The ensuing track saw the alternate herding of horses, cyclists and Mr Lada Cousin, depending on who was where and the quality of the track.
Mt Atyrau provided the perfect vantage point to make good and bad decisions. A small group decided to take advantage of the northerly winds to sail towards home assisted by the breeze. The final distance survivors headed further north to attempt Pipeline or even Almaly. The weather decided to play a bit of a trick and push the group easily further north and then switch to a west directed crosswind. The Northern Dog trail did not disappoint and many canine friends came out with a full welcome. A brief stop to fuel up and the final push to the highway against the wind.
Better judgement was again in danger of disappearing with the highway decision to push onwards to Almaly or return via Pipeline Track. Ominous clouds seemed to taunt the riders and a final resurgence of good judgement broke through the fog of tired legs to clarify the track…Pipeline! The group set off drawn by the strong beer gravity towards town. Fueled by shot blocks, peanut butter and a dwindling supply of water the group made it to the train tracks for a short rest and then the last bits of tarmac to their respective watering holes. A large group had gathered at ZK for tales of the ride as the heavens opened up for the long promised drenching of the trails. Safely tucked inside the group engaged in double, triple and even a few quadruple entendres to keep the mood jovial. A late arrival of potential new recruits were engaged in a marketing pitch by Intrepid “Can I have a third one for the road” Recruiter. A good time was had by all knowing the chances of a repeat performance in the mud bog of Sunday was not in the cards. Stock up on BBQ, enjoy your evening plans and have a proper lay in on Sunday. The rides will pick up again when the dry tracks return.