… is a term of non endearment for any item favouring function over firm. Differently Beautiful is another. In Yorkshire we’d probably have gone with ‘throw a blanket over it ugly’*. But however tactful or otherwise any appraiser of my new bike is, they’ll be united on the premise that it’s not much of a looker.
Which means it had best fulfil the function part of the equation then, especially as my properly bo Cove Hummer went the other way. So with bits swapped over and a lung function within hacking distance of normal, off we went on a voyage filled with discovery.
Not content to be campaigning a new frame, the sun and promised dustiness of trail rolled out shiny summer shoes and packet fresh thinly lined gloved. My understandable worry over the predictable chaos risked with tweaking so many riding variables was mitigated by the simple fact that Nic had built the frame, and I’d not attempted to improve his good work through drunken spanner action.
This theme of ‘the new and exciting’ spanned kit, bike and now location. A quick spin from Ross had us gasping for summer-feeling air with a gradient last seem lurking in the Malvern Hills. Here lies a network of lavishly cheeky trails nestling secretly between two steep sided valleys, further honed by local trail pixies.
The first of which came after twenty minutes or so of climbing and an airy prefix that ‘you might want to watch out for some steps about half way down. Or a quarter. Well you’ll know when you get there”. I nearly didn’t get there at all with the first off camber corner drawing my eye to 200m of stumpy fall line for the inappropriately directioned.
Survived that with nothing like smoothness or calm before – 14 seconds into my off-road experience – a 10 set stepfest with matching handrails loomed front and centre in somewhat incongruous geography. Odd place to site those puppies I thought, before twigging the vertical drop they spanned. My run in was very much a might-run-over as David clipped a handrail leading to a second of the kind of excitement us older gentlemen really don’t need at that time of the morning.
My approach was a little straighter and the expected rear-end batterage** was nicely muted. Right then, steps not a problem let’s go try and some other trail obstacles. Off camber, dust – YES DUST IN APRIL – roots, logs, tree-gaps were all dispatched with as close to aplomb as my riding skill can get.
Finishing the descent had me wondering how the bike rode. And after some further cogitation, the surprising conclusion reached was ‘like a bike’. It’s stiff enough to reward climbing effort but gives enough that you’re not performing a St. Vitus after a couple of hours. It’s pumpy fun in the corners, stable at speed and pretty damn neutral if – as I couldn’t help myself but do – thrown off some medium/verging on the small jumps.
Matt and David liked it enough to be considering creating their own entries in the carbon tribe FoD crew. Based on the cacophony of echo through those fat hollow tubes, you’ll be able to hear the subsequent noise pollution from about Gloucester.
Apparently tho mine needs a bigger fork over which I’m ambivalent mainly for financial/fiscal rolling pin of doom reasons. It does need a seat dropper tho that shall require either approval or honed kitchen implement dodging skills before purchasing.
But riding is so much more than bikes, and pretty trinkets and even the bullshit that comes with it. It’s being out with your friends, choking on their dust and sweating in the sunshine. It’s sitting in the pub talking bike and bollocks. It’s coming home and blowing 600 l/m into a peak flow meter that two weeks saw less than half of that.
It’s so good I’m doing it again tomorrow. This time with Jess because whenever your kids ask to ride, you can only say yes. The bike is staying in the car because it’ll be an ideal companion for some dad/daughter blue trail/ice cream action.
Obviously I’ve thrown a blanket over it.
* or ‘looks like somebody set her on fire and then put her out with an axe’ as an old mate once memorably described a recent drunken conquest.
** I am talking going back to a hardtail after a few months. Not some kind of Deliverance style woods action. Just so we’re clear.