As Meatloaf may once have crooned if he could count past 5*. I appear to have died and been transported to Singletrack heaven with 100 kilometres of the wiggly stuff squeezed into less than a week. Ascent and, more importantly, descent has reached five imperial figures which is exactly half of what I managed all of last month.
But these numbers mean nothing without context. In this rather lovely – if confused – country we live in, every dry spell is vigorously mainlined by MTB junkies getting their rocks off on dusty trails under sunny skies. And for those of us who refuse to accept this is a three season sport, all that winter drudgery is rewarded with fast legs and an unquenchable thirst to go do it all again. And again.
Four rides, three locations, one simple idea to bank happy memories against future wet and miserable. We rolled into the Forest twice this week, and it rolled lush singletrack right back. It might not have the elevation of the Malverns, not the stupendous panoramic views, but bloody hell it’s somewhere beyond fun and into a place that surely cannot be legal. And yet a Malvern ride some 24 hours later reminded me how damn lucky we are to live between this two MTB environs.
A bit cheeky, trails that come alive in the evenings when the walkers have rambled off, perfect blue sky and visibility half way to Russia. A final descent into the setting sun with many metres bagged and ready to be unleashed in a duet with gravity. That’ll stay with me for some time, as will fast laps of CwmCarn – a trail centre 45 minutes from my house and a chosen testing ground for new bikes**
I know its’ secrets well enough to show Martin a clean pair of wheels on the first lap – feeling fit and pretty fast. Big Sandwich and Life Saving Cup Of Tea later, then it’s pretty much even as Martin hustles his big forked hardtail line astern to my brilliant – if fragile – ST4. I can forgive that bike anything because it is so natural to ride. Don’t think, just do. Don’t brake, just trust . This sometimes leads to Don’t look, just hope but how damn alive do you feel when all that is going on?
The last descent at CwmCarn has been properly breathed on by the trail pixies and now it is a kilometre of giggly awesomeness. I can hear Martin’s fat tyre scrabbling right up my chuff so abandon fast and smooth for ragged and dangerous. There is nothing wrong with such an approach assuming you’re still trail side up, which I very nearly wasn’t. Very Nearly is more than okay because it takes you to a place where you want to speak at a hundred miles and hour, but you cannot actually get any words out. I find pointing helps.
The only thing that scares me now is how long will it be before I’m too old to do this any more, maybe too broken, or too tired to ride in the winter, or too worried about mashing myself up. Just too damn crocked and decrepit. The worrying thing is – right now – I am as fit as I’ve ever been and riding at a pace that feels reasonably brisk. Probably all down hill from here then. Hope so, sounds like it might be an uplift 🙂
* Our mutt appears to have some musical talent as lead hound for Mad Murf and the Howlers. Current album “Where’s my breakfast” includes such classics as “Is there any more?”, “That was disappointingly small” and “How long till dinner?“. The difficult second album has stalled at the concept stage with only a working title “I’ve eaten the cat, what’s next?”
** There have been a few.