Tired is for tomorrow

This, dispatched lightly, from my good friend Matt, landed with more of a thud than expected.  Equally unexpected was the thud as first my shoulder, rapidly followed by the remainder of my tumbling torso, smashed into a fire-road baked hard by a capricious sun long driven from the sky by endless rain.

Ironic that* I pontificated mightily a second before, as what proxied for an out of body experience was – in fact – a precursor to a full body slam experience.  The rapidly shrinking distance from air to ground triggered some desperate dendrite-synapse action mostly focussed on a less than balletic twist to protect the drinking arm from the inevitable blunt force trauma,

How did we get here? Short answer, riding bikes in the sunshine in what felt like the first time for about ever**. Longer answer is our spring-lamb keenness to be released into the fields triggered an early start and a few extra trails before a gathering of those matriculated in the study of ‘bluebell day‘.  The forest looked mighty fine; swathes of flowering garlic and bluebells slashed by petrichor drying dirt.

Dryer than last week” was my pointless assertion to those who I share almost every ride with. Nods affirmed Spring – while not in the ascendancy – was striding through the trees, extracting moisture from our favourite trails and repurposing it to trunk tributaries. So a mostly green canopy shielded us from above and grip pulled hard at clean tyres from below.

Oh God we’ve waited so long for this. Sure there’s a skill and a dopamine hit of pitching the bike in on sodden trail and managing the slide, but dry trails hit different. Slam the front end in, know the back is following in an exact arc, smash an off camber root stack knowing you’re going nowhere but fast.  It’s such a thrill and I’ve missed it. Even tho I didn’t feel I could fully trust it, as lying in wait were shaded puddles and sweating rock.

We were nearly late because fun beats promises 100% of the time. Finally fetching up with the rest of the crew, route faffage was at a minimum as we knew exactly where we were going. Bluebell day has many destinations but the first is the ‘main line’ when riding is secondary to experiencing.

Had to get there first. Up the notorious ‘middle climb‘ – a 150 metre pull from the river I’ve done 100s of times and it never gets easier. Making the ridge, we extended our out lap through a secret garlic trail presenting at its absolute best. Not massively exciting to ride, but what a thing to look at. But still not the main event.

To get there, we diverted just a bit to ride a couple of favourite trails at speeds not realistic even a couple of weeks ago. So enthused by the conditions, Matt and I abandoned the agreed route and pedalled hard back to the top for another full run. Great concept, terrible execution.

There’s that thing about ‘not dying in a ditch‘ over something. Never thought it had a literal quality, but as kinetic energy was converted to an airborne vector, that certainty took a bit of a hit. As did the bike falling into a recently dug trench someone inadvisably positioned at the end of a fast trail. The bike and I piled in. Only I came out. Mostly in a parody of a working human with flapping limbs akimbo.

“Impressive” was the comment from behind as I groaned my way through a full system reset.  There was some bleeding, later there would be some bruising, later still my shoulder still isn’t quite right but considering the smash bang thud denoting things had gone a bit wrong,  I’m taking that as a win.

Patched up***, we finally converged on the prime forest bluebells. Fifteen years of riding this trail when they’re at that absolute finest has in no way diminished the experience. It was as sensory-overload-y as ever and just remembering to do bike things is mashed into a tiny corner of your brain, while the rest attempts to catalogue those wide angled images for future retention.

No chance. it’s a confluence of people/place and time. It’s why we slog through winter. It’s why we lament the changing of the seasons. It’s why we watch the ground cover grumpily emerge from the slop. It’s why we celebrate the first flower. It’s just why we ride.

And then ride some more. Ended up with nearly 1400m of climbing on a 60k day. Those are big numbers even for us. Most I’ve done for a while. Life in the old bruised dog yet. That feels better than good.  Excuses are easy, doing it is hard but I love that feeling of being totally finished, washed out, done in.

So that extra climb, that little bit more, that little nod when asked ‘shall we just ride one more trail as it’s so bloody great today?“, that ‘shut up legs’, that first taste of a cold beer, that talking shit with fellow travellers, that next 24 hours when stairs are a problem, that  wishing it could happen again right now.

That.  More of that.

Tired is for tomorrow.

*90s hit Alanis Morissette ‘isn’t it ironic’ is lyrically distanced from irony in a way that’s really bloody annoying. Just me then? Right, as you were.

**last week, was Neil’s “10 feature” birthday ride – made about 9 of them stuck somewhere between committed and Newtonian inevitability. Dry it was not.

***My friend Em lent me a plaster to stem the bleeding from an elbow. She didn’t want it back 🙂

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