It's been quite a year, with big miles, bigger smiles, some tears and tantrums, epic vistas, peace and solitude, chaos and chatter, and an awful lot of time on two wheels.
What better a way to finish that riding with friends in Malvern on some of the nicest flowing trails, and high paths, with great views across the crystal clear skies.
Use of the 29er had been enforced by my inability to acquire a chain for the Enduro bike at short notice, but it was such a blessing. A cheeky confidence boost. Suddenly, I felt fit, rolling fast and having to consciously ease off on pace. It doesn't matter what people say, it is all about the bike....but it's good to know with the right bike, effortless pedalling remains possible.
It's always great to swoop and follow folks down trails, and it's great to see the lights dance as riders fly over open terrain. It's also great seeing the younger riders come into their own, and our youngest rider was in demon form bouncing rocks and keeping up with the faster guys in front.
A couple of hours later we were at the pub. The Wyche Inn, a wonderful establishment with great owners who tolerate the mud, water and bikes with a smile. I sat there drinking tea whilst everyone else was on pints, recounting the year's crashes and big riding events, talking over potential 2016 plans and loosing track of time until we realised it was getting on and we were to brave the cold again.
Heading back out in sub-zero temperatures was a bit of a shock to systems more acclimatized to unseasonable double-figure temperatures. The big ol' climb back up to the Worcestershire Beacon soon unstiffened the legs and warmed our cores and we arrived in perfect time to settle for midnight and watch the fireworks over the Severn Valley.
Such a treat, with other friends also having made the effort to brave the cold and numerous strangers to share the celebrations.
We stayed there until our hands began to freeze and the grass turned white, before wishing each other the best and descending through the crowds with numb fingers trying desperately to control the brakes. 2 minutes later, and the shelter of the van was much appreciated, as was that wonderful warm feel of rushing blood and burning fingers.
2015. Done, just like that.