Done, not dusty.

Penyard MTB - NYE 2014
That’s a big gap. Dean looking surprisingly relaxed!

Done – the lastrideof 2014. And in the spirit of all these indeterminable auto-generated face-cloth and Strava summaries, the two hour muddy endeavourperfectly encapsulated a year of many adventures, more than occasional timidity and a whole load of clean and dirty fun in between.

Firstly I crashed. Three times. Once adding a tree to the whole ‘it’s all gone wrong‘ experience. Secondly I avoided a difficult obstacle a couple of my riding mates sailed over. That’s Dean ^^ up there who gave it a damn good look on multiple run-ins before committing. Another pal, Cez, mistrusting that approach, instead launched himself at the gap jump with so much speed, he was still seen pedalling while both wheels were in the air.

I took some pictures. Then just before Beer o’ clock, we arrived at a freshly dug trail barely clinging to a slithery hillside. Apparently this ‘new way down‘ started with six vertical switchbacks, immediately followed by a couple of nasty drops and finishing in a run out to the fire-road where you could collect all your teeth if it went wrong.

I asked Sean – who built it – if I’d die riding it, evenutilising the full range ofmy legendary skills and bravery. The look with which he responded had me scurrying away to an easier trail less marked for someone who’d plumped for’involuntary suicide‘ as their New Years resolution.

So crash, nary and avoid. There’s been a bit of that this year. What do I mean this year, every bloody year really. Hard to know if I’m getting any less brave, or – as I suspect – because I’m starting from such a low base , it’s pretty damn hard to tell the difference.

Determining fun through progression is a slippery slope. I should know having fallen off many times attempting to navigate it. This year – when compared to 2013 – I’ve ridden about the same number of miles, climbed a bit more, visited a few less places, and had a similar shit load of simple joy.

I weigh about the same, pedal about the same, maybe arc through the odd corner a little sweeter after being up-skilled, brake when I shouldn’t, hesitate when I should just go for it, find excuses to quit and get lost in tangled mental thickets of over-thinking.

And for all of that, I love riding mountain bikes more than I ever did. I’m stupidly excited about new bikes, great adventures and unknown trailsin 2015. I have the best friends to ride with, and – right here on our doorstep – many amazing places to explore.

There’s a shitty season to ride through first, but ‘pre-spring‘ is just a couple of months to stay fit and healthy before it’s all drying trails, carving bluebell singletrack, kicking up dust and having a ball. Sliding about in January and February isn’t entirely without comedic merit either – especially if it’s someone else nutting trees.

Being such an antiquated sort of bloke, there’s something reassuring inunderstanding thatall these good things are coming, while retaining a childlike enthusiasm for spontaneous stuff that’ll make me point, babble and giggle.

Age is a number tho, not a barrier. Today after riding, a pub full of similarly chiselled*mountain bikers decided our mental age is about 27. Frankly I think we were overstating our maturity by at least 10 years. I looked around and saw old people with their tired eyes and well upholstered bodies. Their chronological clock may tickthe same as ours, but wechime to a different beat.

As an adult with a loving family and paying work you really must pay some attention to, there’s all sorts of commitments and deadlines outside of any control. The antithesis of that is being able to play outside on off road bicycles.

It’s all about balance. Until you hit a tree. Come on then 2015, let’s see what you’ve got. I’m ready.

* it’s a good word. Wrinkled might be a little more accurate.

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