Ride a bicycle? Sounds like a bloody stupid idea.

Well that’s something to look forward to.

There arealways reasons not to ride Falling neatly into three categories -vocational, environmental and personal – so confirmingeasy excuses to avoid harder choices.

“I‘ve got too much work on” is a solid banker. No matter you’ve pissed away most of the daylight staring out of a window bywhich your fattening arse is sat on the wrong side. Blaming those mythicalhigher-ups, who’ve visited immovable deadlines on your innocent person, at least partially mitigates the group-think outing you as nesh and fragile.

Slackers like me requireother avenues of deceit. Checking out the rain slashed panes harbouring you from skies full of portent should be enough to sack it off with a ‘rain check’. Doesn’t pass the peer pressure test though so instead it’s all displacement tactics pointing to broken components, unsuitable bikes and – if desperation strikes – exploding tyres.

Again not something on which I can reliablyrely having a shed-full of suitable bikes and many friends in non mutant size with spares. Better instead to pretend some important bodily part has succumbed to increasing antiquity. When the rain falls, the wind blows, the world goes dark like space and the trails slip into shitty winter there is always ‘pulling theemergency hamstring’ to save the day.

You’re still not done. There’s a whole mind to be mined chasing the lode of ‘not really feeling it‘. This isn’t the simple can’t be arsed of the SADly effected. It is genuinely not wanting to ride your bike. This is easy to explain to those not suffering an addiction which demands a couple of weekly hits, but a little harder to those attending the same meetings: ‘it’s been two weeks since I last rode my bike, and that feels properly shit…

Flailing about overrain smashed geography while being simultaneously battered by icy crosswinds can be far more fun that it sounds. But only when your head is in the right place. Not just above the bike and issuing stern instructions to mud speckled legs, but happy to be outside doing stupid stuff at an age when your contemporaries are contemplating exactly the right time to out the Xmas jumper.

Because, we all know don’t we that, 99 times out of 100 riding is better than not riding. Days like today ask the question ‘maybe thisis the one when it isn’t‘. Weeks like this to be honest – three times opportunities presented themselves to go ride either for a quick solo blast or a longer time with my friends. And three times I found excuses from every category preventing me from breaching the can’t be arsed stage.

It’s not the weather. I’ve said before this isn’t a three season sport. In fact motivation is stronger in February than it is in November. For now there is still a lingering memory of summer warmth and dry, hard trails. In February, it’s been four months of paddle steaming through the middle of the water table, soyou’ve become impervious to conditions which have your returning to your loved ones as an apparent extra in a low budget swamp monster movie.

Stupid as it sounds, not riding makes me feel guilty. Always has. More so now I think because of my oft repeatedassertion to grab every chance to do what I love because who knows when it might stop. That assertion strengthened by the loss of Jenn who got that in spades before and after she was diagnosed.

Instead this apparently unbreakable principle has been diluted by sitting in front of this screen writing apparently very important emails. Or rushing off to see people who may wishto pay me for whatever it is they think I do. Or staring out of that window watching the garden die whilewondering if that’s some kind of metaphor.

Feeling a bit rubbish hasn’t been helped by a localised outbreak of stomach bloat brought on by a peristalsis halting combination of crisps and chocolate. When the darkness descents, the pull of the sofa is strong.

At this point, there would normally be an uplifting paragraph or two on how going out for a ride cracked the mould of this mild self pity. How the question I’d set myself to answer on a long ride became increasingly irrelevant the longer those pedals were turned. Didn’t happen.

Last weekend we had one of those. Shit weather forecast, set off in the rain, rode in the rain, went exploring, got lost, rain stopped for a bit, kept going on until it returned with a vengeance whereupon the hardy four headed to the local pub to talk shit and drink beer. It was a good morning, extending to the afternoon.

I need another one. This isn’t new of course. Seven years ago, I was having a slightly more serious crisis of faith. Amusingly back then I set myself a deadline of another five years or so before trying something else; adulthood for instance. From this lofty, mature position let me just clarify that with a ‘fuck that‘. If I do ever stop mountain biking, I’ll need to find another hobby. Wecould neverafford the repairs if I decided thatshould be DIY.

Adventures. They’re the thing. Got us through last winter and I’ve high hopes similar japes will carry us through the next two seasons. Sunday we load up the van and return to a much loved epic in Wales. It’s likely to be wet, slippy, sloppy, windy and with more than an even chance of benightment.

Sounds good to me. If nothing else those big hills always give you a sense of perspective. Odd isn’t it, we are always told – because it’s a universal truth – how lucky we are, but only when the insignificance of our existence is exposed by proper mountains do we actually feel it.

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