Mud in your eye…

… and in every other orifice as well. Think about that for a moment, while I confirm it was EVERY orifice be it covered with clothing or not. A festival of mud laid out the sloppy stuff front, centre, up, down, in and out of every bodily crevice I had inadvertently placed in the line of fire. This was not – as some of my more pervy* readers may hope – an introduction to the Malvern Hills Dogging Experience**

No the reason for my homage to a swamp monster was a ride in Haugh woods that left me 75{45ac9c3234d371044e23e276755ef3a4dde8f1068375defba7d385ca3cd4deb2} man, 25{45ac9c3234d371044e23e276755ef3a4dde8f1068375defba7d385ca3cd4deb2} slurry. Reasons abound for such muckiness ranging from a month of rain where summer should have been, and some careful harvesting of trees using nothing more than multi tracked twenty ton earth movers.

Tim – a recent innocent comet gravitationally pulled into the slightly bizarre, often drunk orbit of Planet Hedgehog – was regaling us with stories of how, under this foot of oozing nastiness, fantastic singletrack was desperate to get out. After two hours, so were we having destroyed my legs, a very expensive wheel and most of a previously pristine drivetrain.

On the upside, it wasn’t my wheel and the “Chiltern Experience” was rapidly put behind us as an old friend turned up with an even older bottle of Brandy. That ended as well as expected, and put paid to a navigationally challenged attack on the Long Mynd planned for the following day.

My riding pals have known me long enough to interpret “fellas, one thing, I’ve no idea where the fuck the start point is, never mind the route, my GPS is merely LCD candy ,and the only available map marks this region as ‘here be dragons‘” as a cry for help. In that vein they helped themselves to more alcohol and a drunken plan hatched a slightly less epic Malvern Hill Romp.

Which was – and I’m going to appeal to the common man here – fucking fantastic. It didn’t start well with hangovers, faffing and car parks full of red socks. But once 10 minutes away from the sour faced, ski-pole*** mountain bike haters, we bagged a large number of peaks stopping only to inhale vast quantities of cake and the occasional funny turn.

Some of these were my rubbish route finding, some my friends’ need to have a little lie down until Fantasia stopped playing behind his eyes. He’s not been riding much, but I was in awe of his riding approach which was to start slow and maintain that same pace for four hours plus. Not for him some ego straining push for the front – well not until I outed the cake from my Camelbak anyway.

It was ace though, still winter muddy but warm and not the Flanders experience suffered the day before. So impressed was I with the utter bloody joy of bicycles, I rocketed out of bed at 6am this morning to ride another one to work. The rain didn’t stop me, although an absence of four weeks’ commuting nearly did. So disappointed with my energy levels on the way back, I decided the best thing would be to extend the ride up the huge sodding hill summiting at the radio mast.

Nearly needed that to signal for help and possibly an ambulance. Eight minutes out of the saddle with a few hundred feet of sweaty grind, before switching gradients to a bonkers flat out descent into the valley bottom on a bike with shit brakes, thin tyres skidding over damp mud and a pilot wondering what the hell he might do for kicks when he can’t do this.

Got home. Got dog. Got kids who wanted to ride their bikes. Got another bike out and rode that with them. Well you would wouldn’t you? First day back at work was rubbish but sandwiched between wheels, I think I’ll do it again tomorrow.

* Based on what I know, that’s all of you. Except for my mum who is currently disconnected from the Internet due to youngest son’s complete failure to remotely troubleshoot a broken wireless connection. I shall be sending her up my special hammer in short course to remedy the problem once and for all.

** Which is the second highest search vector to this site. The first being “sex with hedgehogs“. I wish I were making that up.

*** “Are these the lower slopes of the Alps?” / “No” / “Then WTF?

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