… no not those, they’re entirely useless for anything other than modelling socks. Assuming I am sitting down. Slightly tired right now.
Bit special this weather isn’t it? Trails so dry that a couple of brief downpours were almost dust-dampeningly welcome. Not quite as moistly appreciated as a couple of mid ride pints ,in a rather fine pub on the banks of the Wye. I rarely risk beer when the off road isn’t done, as the increased alcohol induced silliness in no way makes headbutting trees any less painful.
Today’s justification came after a section of trails that invited you in, shook you up, blended pure adrenalin with healthy dose of fear before spitting you out gabbling, giggling and desperate for a pint. A pint that was preceded by some urban amusement in the form of many, many steps which rewarded a bit of pace and rhythm. I certainly achieved both in the pub afterwards.
It is a bit odd riding with people you barely know as one of two things generally happens a) they try and rip you legs off or b) are the kind of riders whose view on life is diametrically opposite to yours. In the Forest, you must also be ready for the sounds of Duelling Banjo’s, when someone stuffs a pair of boar tusks in their helmet* and darkly proclaims “It’s time to initiate the new boy, fetch the chicken”.
Multiple Daves, a Nick and A Gary did none of those things – although I feel an initiation ceremony may only be waiting for the hours of darkness – and proved just damn nice people who were happy to show a gobby northerner their favourite trails. And what trails they are. After Wednesday, I fully expected to be a bit disappointed because it was hard to see how the basic awesomeness of that singletrack could be matched, never mind bettered.
And, cutting to the point here, the first hour pretty much backed that up as rendezvous plans fell to confusion, a dearth of mobile phone coverage and some roadie criss-crossing. Eventually – after nearly being taken out by a twatty eye-test needing Volvo owner – we found an approximation of a riding flange and went searching for some dirt under tyre.
And what we found had a bit of everything, fast turns, tight turns, open sections, rock drops, jumps, gulley’s and occasionally terror all bounded by the bountiful forest. I was happy to bottle a big roll down that required precision and bollocks, neither of which I’d remembered to pack in my Camelbak, but did my best to make up for such wanton neshness everywhere else. I think the school report would read something like “doesn’t have much aptitude fo the subject, but tries hard. Rather noisy in class“.
And far from being embarrassingly overbiked – with the ST4 shock being properly broken, and a bunch of bearings having gone the same way – the Pace was a perfect accompaniment to some steep’n’deep trails which went from the barely defined to the obviously crafted. At no point did I think “you know what, I really should have brought the rigid Kona, that’d be ideal for that steep, rootfest, death line over there”
Proper ride that. 45ks, 1100m of climbing (I’ve gone metric, it’s all that road riding), out for five hours, one of those spent happily in the pub. And the second I’d made my goodbyes, while trailering the dusty bike, the heavens opened and the righteous gone rained on. Which was fine as I was inside the truck at that point.
I nearly didn’t ride today due to a combination of terrifyingly complex family logistics, and the option of throwing expensive gliders off windy slopes. But I can do that when I’m old and broken – until then more of this please.
* the one on their head. It’s not quite as bad as you may have heard.