Four out of six ain’t bad

As Meatloaf may once have crooned if he could count past 5*. I appear to have died and been transported to Singletrack heaven with 100 kilometres of the wiggly stuff squeezed into less than a week. Ascent and, more importantly, descent has reached five imperial figures which is exactly half of what I managed all of last month.

But these numbers mean nothing without context. In this rather lovely – if confused – country we live in, every dry spell is vigorously mainlined by MTB junkies getting their rocks off on dusty trails under sunny skies. And for those of us who refuse to accept this is a three season sport, all that winter drudgery is rewarded with fast legs and an unquenchable thirst to go do it all again. And again.

Four rides, three locations, one simple idea to bank happy memories against future wet and miserable. We rolled into the Forest twice this week, and it rolled lush singletrack right back. It might not have the elevation of the Malverns, not the stupendous panoramic views, but bloody hell it’s somewhere beyond fun and into a place that surely cannot be legal. And yet a Malvern ride some 24 hours later reminded me how damn lucky we are to live between this two MTB environs.

A bit cheeky, trails that come alive in the evenings when the walkers have rambled off, perfect blue sky and visibility half way to Russia. A final descent into the setting sun with many metres bagged and ready to be unleashed in a duet with gravity. That’ll stay with me for some time, as will fast laps of CwmCarn – a trail centre 45 minutes from my house and a chosen testing ground for new bikes**

I know its’ secrets well enough to show Martin a clean pair of wheels on the first lap – feeling fit and pretty fast. Big Sandwich and Life Saving Cup Of Tea later, then it’s pretty much even as Martin hustles his big forked hardtail line astern to my brilliant – if fragile – ST4. I can forgive that bike anything because it is so natural to ride. Don’t think, just do. Don’t brake, just trust . This sometimes leads to Don’t look, just hope but how damn alive do you feel when all that is going on?

The last descent at CwmCarn has been properly breathed on by the trail pixies and now it is a kilometre of giggly awesomeness. I can hear Martin’s fat tyre scrabbling right up my chuff so abandon fast and smooth for ragged and dangerous. There is nothing wrong with such an approach assuming you’re still trail side up, which I very nearly wasn’t. Very Nearly is more than okay because it takes you to a place where you want to speak at a hundred miles and hour, but you cannot actually get any words out. I find pointing helps.

The only thing that scares me now is how long will it be before I’m too old to do this any more, maybe too broken, or too tired to ride in the winter, or too worried about mashing myself up. Just too damn crocked and decrepit. The worrying thing is – right now – I am as fit as I’ve ever been and riding at a pace that feels reasonably brisk. Probably all down hill from here then. Hope so, sounds like it might be an uplift 🙂

* Our mutt appears to have some musical talent as lead hound for Mad Murf and the Howlers. Current album “Where’s my breakfast” includes such classics as “Is there any more?”, “That was disappointingly small” and “How long till dinner?“. The difficult second album has stalled at the concept stage with only a working title “I’ve eaten the cat, what’s next?

** There have been a few.

5 thoughts on “Four out of six ain’t bad

  1. Re: fitness and old age, I take my hat off to you for having been able to reach this level.

    I keep going out, getting a bit fit, getting ill/having life get in the way and then re-setting the counter. I’d suggest you’ll be able to keep doing this for as long as you can find the energy and enthusiasm to get out regularly and often, or to climb back up when you have to stop for a bit. I’ve noticed a big decline in energy available that started off from when I was 16, and has been increasing over the last 5 years. It’s highly frustrating, and the lack of exercise has left me fat too!

    Managed about 20 road miles Yesterday – the furthest I’ve been in about a year.

  2. Alex

    Riding is riding Toni. Better than not riding. I like to think that all my efforts have elevated me to “distinctly average”. Can’t believe you got fat, last time I saw you you’d have given a pipe cleaner a good run for its’ money!

  3. Now I’ve read this I feel I should have gone ‘up the hill’ tonight instead of opting for second rate world cup football! In my defence 105 road miles in the last week isn’t too shabby.

    Are you at Mayhem at the weekend?

  4. Alex

    I will be there. Entirely in a browsing/gloating capacity. The prospect of riding 24 hours around trails that aren’t as good as the ones 2 miles from the venue doesn’t hold a lot of excitement for me 😉

    You see if someone did a 100 mile a WEEK road race, I might get involved in that!

  5. I’m not riding either…working, come across to the Back on Track bikes tent and say hi, I’m the tall lanky one. 🙂

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