Lessons Learned

You never stop learning” as preppy and enthusiastic training types are want to brightly scold you. At my age, it’s more of a “never stop forgetting” decline, but there may be some merit behind the over-reaching ethic of self-improvement.

Take last night for example, some representative example to share:

Meet time is not ride time. Oh no, because first there is “faff time” and “chat time” before we’re ready to go. And then we don’t because someone’s disappeared for a spot of dogging*, someone else hasn’t even turned up yet, and the route is still in the “committee” stage.

It’s all part of the ride experience, and – I’m sure – backed by some EU rules.

Mid April is still night riding. Even if you’ve forgotten your lights. Then it’s more “dark riding” really.

When bikes > 5, there will be a mechanical. Ahem, that’ll be me then, serially stuffing air into my shock which still has some damping, but not any associated with compression.

Don’t think that because the route pathfinder is also lightless, you will not suffer benightment in a dark forest with people you hardly know. This is because he can clearly see perfectly in the dark, and may have been crossed with an Owl or a Bat. You however, will find your way by crashing into trees.

It is not possible to avoid chasing people. I am like a labrador, they are the juicy stick. I can hear Tony DoyleSlow in Fast Out, Looking round the corner” in my ear but the Ego Devil is on my shoulder shouting “GET ON WITH IT YOU MINCER” and it’s his advice I follow. Predictably, the stick remains uncaught.

New trails should not be taken at full pace. Becuase you will find yourself entering an obstacle (let’s hypothosise a very large and deep roll down) at a speed far exceeding your skill base. Regardless of the parlous state of the bike’s suspension, you absolutely will acheive full travel on the anal sphincter.

Local knowledge rocks. Fifteen miles of perfect singletrack, grippy on the corners, fast on the straights, rooty and tight one minute, fast and open the next. Dust motes backlit by the setting sun. Finish one section and immediately dive back into the woods for more trail perfection. You know it won’t always be like this, and somehow that makes right now even better.

Riders make the ride. If I’d been accompanied on this trail only by GPS and my own company, the ride would downgrade from great to good. Regardless of the long back stories from the guys on the ride, I still felt part of a kind of group conciousness that just wants to ride, to have the craic and to feverently help someone falls off in front of them.

One thing I didn’t learn last night was just how brilliant riding bikes is. Because I already knew that. But it is brilliant to the power of giggle when you add all the summery elements, so badly missed in the never ending winter we’ve endured.

I’ll be there 6:30pm next week. Ready to faff 🙂

* this may not be entirely true, but they came back looking flustered, yet satisfied

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