Monday, 25 June 2012

The Real Ale Wobble 2012

I've been running the Wobble for quite a few years now after taking up the baton from Mick Heath. I like to think I've made it my own, introducing a few twists over the years and having a new route every time. The basic premise is always the same - an on/off road ride visiting several local (ish) pubs and, most importantly, good company.
I always agonise over the route and still worry that people aren't going to turn up. This year I was up against it because not only was heavy rain forecast but England were playing too. As KO time neared the crying off texts began. Never mind, the show must go on.
At 6.30pm I was at the Sunnyhurst for the start. Jonathan B kindly bought me a pint and so I was in the mood from the get go. A few others joined us and I knew we'd be meeting more at the first stop so at 6.45pm we set off. Reaching the A666 the heavens opened. It was like a monsoon. I'd already decided to cut one bit of off road for the sake of speed and now as we regrouped at Greens Arms I opted to ride straight to the Cheethams Arms. Already we were pretty much drenched but it wasn't cold. Always a bonus!
A quick soggy blast down the road and we reached the Cheethams. Budge, Phil and Jase (aka Team JMC) had all ridden over from Rammy/Prestwich to meet us there. It was Budge and Phil's first time on the Wobble. I had a feeling that they'd enjoy it. A few more stragglers and late comers arrived too and we were up to full strength - about 16 or 17 if memory serves.

We necked a pint here and then shot off through Chapeltown and across the dam to the Black Bull at Edgeworth. It wasn't far but I like to get the first few pints in early doors to get everybody in the mood. The footy was on here and so we crammed into the bar to crane over people's heads to watch a bit. I'd got my finger out by now and sorted the traditional kitty for ale - tenner in and drink whatever pint is put in front of you. Budge and Jase seemed a bit reticent at first but Phil had a bit of a word. I think it was 'Pussies'! So, for the rest of the evening pretty much it was a case of bar staff doing a double take when I ordered about 9 pints at a go. Glasses drained and back on the bikes. The booze was just starting to have a bit of an effect - not enough to make you reckless but a warm fuzziness. It certainly didn't slow us down as we shot through Wayoh and onto the road across the dam and up the steep climb to the Strawbury Duck.
Another big round in and a throng formed in front of the telly to watch some more of the game. It was 1 -1 when we left the Bull but Sweden got in front while we were in the Duck. Was this going to put a dampener on the evening? We drank on. Suddenly cheers as Walcott equalised! Game on! And so we jumped on our bikes and headed for the penultimate pub - the Greenfield back in Darwen. I was feeling pretty good now and was putting the hammer down a bit. There was a line of merry riders in pursuit, their tongues flapping as we charged along Edge Lane. I stopped for a regroup and while I was explaining to somebody that if 24 hr races had compulsory drinking then I'd win 'em (ahem) word came through that England were winning.

Down the A666, off through Dog Shit Woods, cheeky singletrack at the back of the Cemetary, through Jacks Key and down Cranberry to the pub. I figured that everybody knew where we were going so they'd either keep up or catch up. The Greenfield was absolutely rammed. I managed to elbow my way to the bar just as the final whistle blew. Sweden 2 - Engerland 3! That'll be 9  pints of 'England's Glory' then. Outside again into the damp darkness as riders were still coming in. I think the only one who had a light on was Pete Murphy and he couldn't switch it off! It was quite a happy (if grubby) mob spread out in front of the pub. It had reached the stage where tales were just starting to get a bit tall, voices raised, gestures a bit more extravagant. Excellent!

'Right, you buggers - sup up!' We were heading for a (tired and) emotional re-union with the Black Horse as finishing venue for the Wobble. Mick and Andy had only recently got back into the pub and it was good to be getting back to the spititual home of the Wobble. The usual Banzai charge down Sough Rd and the familiar funny-but-a-bit-weird sensation of wheeling muddy bikes through a busy pub to lock 'em up on the beer garden. And then it was time to get stuck into some more drinkies... I managed to briefly lose the kitty but fortunately discovered it again after everybody had gone seperate. A quick count up and I found we were just shy of enough to get another round in. Phil was stood next to me at the bar and just gave me a fiver to make it up. What a proper chap!

From this point on it gets a little hazy. Mick and Andy had put on a brilliant spread of sandwiches for us so it went quiet for a short while as we hoovered them down. And then drink followed drink. Oh dear...
Gradually people began to disperse. The JMC boys set off on their long ride home. Jonathan B was picked up by his Mrs and amused passers-by by dropping his bike off the roof rack... Eventually (and inevitably) there was just the hard core 4 of us left - Dave Billi, Livsey, Will and me.

It was getting pretty late and so I figured it was 'Jack Daniels' o'clock. Dave came back with it from the bar and had bought everybody else some God awful concoction of port and lemonade which, he assured everyone was his 'favouritisht drink'...

As stools were being stacked around us we eventually took the hint and left. Unusually I didn't have to drag Dave out of a bush on the ride home and I didn't smack into any wing mirrors.
By 2 o'clock I was showered and tucked up in bed, grinning to myself as events from the evening came back to me. Oh yes, I was pissed.
Thanks to everybody who turned up despite the weather. I don't need to say I hope you had a good time - I know you did! Bring on next year!
Some more Wobbly pics here.

No comments:

Post a Comment