Taken by Tim B, December 23rd 2009 during this ride when we still found snow novelty fun. How that changed over the next two months, with a winter cold enough to freeze or bore you to death.

Today was the first “proper” MTB ride with smallest (and yet not very small nowadays) child, with the Verbal one dispatched to ruin a friends’ house on the roundabout of Sleepovers that have erupted this last few months. Talking of eruptions, it is clearly a train company plot to bolster profits because we’ve had a horizon scraping blue sky day that speaks of summer. Ash did feature in my day but only shovelling some fire remains into the compost bin and fetching the dog out of what was left*

Random, despite her bike being mostly unridden for a few months, picked up from where she left off, climbing a few more hills, eeking out a bit more speed on the downs and looking pretty damn relaxed. A steep, loose path to the lake was a two person descent with one running along side holding the brake lever only last year. Now she just controls her speed using the infamous “Donut”**, until – about half way down – abandoning them completely and hooning off to the power of “wheeeeeeee”. Scary stuff I can tell you.

Embolded by fearless trail skills, we tried a “hard” track by the lake with a few roll ins, bigger roots and tight turns. Aside from falling off and attacking a stump with her front wheel, she was essentially awesome and undamaged. Even my personalised 1:1 tuition didn’t seem to hamper her much either. A half fallen tree was negotiated with a breathtakingly instinctive move to stick her head on the stem and hope for the best, while a tricky bit was undertaken three times to make sure “I got a decent photo“. No idea where she got that kind of Prima Donna “look at me” attitude from.

Obviously she then boasted to her now re-located sister on how much better her riding was, leaving me to arbitrate sibling DEFCON 2 with a crowd pleasing “You’re both really good“. “Yeah, but I’m still BETTER” asserted verbal. I chucked them outside and left them to it. Practical parenting I like to think of this as.

Anyway, the point – if there has to be one – is that the seasons have really changed. Apparently dead stuff is becoming leafy stuff, grass is growing, days feel long, weeds are being dug, things that look like weeds are being planted, and tomorrow I’ll be earning cold beer on dusty tracks, going fast and praying the weather won’t break for a bit.

I’m struggling with my normal grumpiness. Probably means I’m due to fall off and lose a limb or something.

* That’ll teach me to give him a wash then. He’s remonstrated by rolling in anything ending in the word “Poo” for the last week. If anything he smells even worse, and honestly I didn’t think that was possible. It’s like having our own mobile Porton Down.

** Squeeze the brakes like you’re holding a donut and don’t want projectile jam in the mush I taught them. They now seem to think this means I have to actually give them a donut.

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