… but you can never be fast, then smooth. Sage advice for almost any walk of life, but properly pertinent for those riding avoiding death. It was delivered as the single version of a truth by a man who was both, to another man who was neither. And since that day, I’ve spent quite some cash and a little less time looking for what happened between fast and stacked.
The problem wasn’t a lack of bravery. That’s the default position of the riding hedgehog and it’s never really been the high water mark of speed, perceived or otherwise. No it was the constant fear of crashing on every single corner, the neural link between that and the brakes, the frustration of being left behind – again – by my riding pals, and the total lack of bloody enjoyment every time I went out.
Get a grip I hear you say. And you’d be right because a second unquestionable truth is that once your front wheel is pointing in the right direction, most other stuff is merely distracting detail. Having lost that grip about half a second before ripping my knee open, it’s only taken me two and a half years to find it again.
That and frozen hard trails at Afan, a year riding the same bike and so much grip that – short of taking the front wheel out and installing a melon – the corners would go as fast as your eyes can deal with. This proved to be jolly good fun, and most of it came together on the last trail I real remember riding properly on.
To be fair, it wasn’t all one way Karma, two of the fellas received frostnip on a day colder enough to promise IceWilly(tm) later. Dave forgot most of his kit on the way down, and the rest of it before every ride. Andy’s lad made the near fatal mistake of chasing his dad, resulting in some quality learning time lying dazed some way away from his bike.
Nige found that eight weeks, and one wedding is not the ideal training regime for hauling cold muscles up big hills, and Jason’s poor wardrobe decision left him with extreme chafing where no man should feel even the lightest of chafes. Still I had a great time, and would take frozen and hard over cold and sloppy* regardless of chill blaines in the nether regions.
Last year we slopped about for two days trying to find some grip. This warm up to 2009** must be a sign that we’ve paid our cosmic debt, and a proper summer is merely a few months away. Probably means I’m due another huge stack then.
* Any situation. Every time 😉
** The whole new year nonsense can go and get stuffed with what’s left of the turkey as far as I’m concerned. I covered that off last year and nothing much has changed. Except getting a year closer to death. but hey let’s not start the year on that kind of downer.