It is said that you should never meet your heroes. And that’s probably right, because a simple human can only be an imperfect reflection of perception. I think the same is true of finding yourself face to face with a younger version of you.
I will quickly concede that such an event is unlikely. And we should be thankful for that, what with the certainty that meeting a doppelgÃ¤nger face on will inevitably firm up a suspicion that you are a a whinging blowhard.
But the partnership of everything digital and low cost storage shoves a trillion pixels deep into the foetid outreach of your hard drive. Last night – while cataloguing kids videos* – I found that lot amateurishly spliced together up there.
Most are from Chicksands bike park – in an eighteen month period starting mid 2005 – except the bit where I’m terrorising the good citizens of Oxford. First visit to Chicky scared me half shitless just looking at brightly coloured Stormtroopers throwing themselves into bottomless voids apparently of their own violation. Then I tried some of the allegedly easy stuff and the other half of being shit scared kicked in.
North Shore wasn’t for me. Singletrack in the sky the non vertically challenged would say. I would stare at the unholy union of a Scalextric track and a hamster cage in wonder, but could only see pain, humiliation and A&E. I had a go of course, and scored two out of three.
The drops tho – they were easier. Again advice was always at hand “Just ride off the fookers” a tongue-ringed denizen of the dirt articulated while waving in the general direction of a handy abyss. Tried that, found it okay if I disengaged any part of my brain involved with brake levers, progressed onto some bigger ones, got scared again, compensated with a bigger bike and finally took flight off the big fella.
That’s so far behind me now, it seems to have happened to someone else. Paradoxically I have convinced myself that – should the opportunity present itself – there would be absolutely zero issue with lobbing myself back into space. Sure I’d need to get used to flat pedals again, but it’s just riding a bike isn’t it? And I’ve been doing a lot of that.
240 hours in 2010 to be precise. Into which I’ve squeezed 3012 kilometres of pedalling including 80,000 metres of climbing. Commuting accounts for about a third, night riding for about the same and only two of my six bikes feature heavily. Apparently 165, 000 calories have been burned along the way which probably explains why my clothes still fit in the face of a diet made up largely of beer, wine and pringles.
In my gravity phase of 2005, I probably didn’t ride half of that and was entirely un-bothered – walking uphill was the new cross country we used to say. It’s hard to plot any kind of progression in all of this because while today I’m not mad keen to go back to tweak the nose of vertical terror, that’s not to say I never will.
What I have concluded from this navel gazing is this; last year was a fantastic year in terms of frequency, company, fitness and variety. 2005 was genuinely awesome in that I massaged my cowardice through a whole year of going bigger. Clearly an annual recalibration of maximum personal terror then working backwards persists a belief you’re still pushing it a bit.
And I am. Pushing it a bit. Mainly in age and ongoing decrepitude. Left knee, left shoulder, right ankle, asthmatic lungs, short hamstrings, lack of moral fibre, etc tell me only one thing. Not to stop, but to bloody well get on with it while I still can.
Happy New Year to you all. I’ve already go a ride in 🙂
* On New Years Eve. The 2010 version of boring your family with a holiday slideshow. Soon I’ll be drinking sherry and eating vegetables.