“How was your ride?”

A question somewhat superfluous if you consider the physical evidence. Since I bought these waterproof shorts, less than one month ago, they accompanied me in a dry arse capacity for the next six rides. That sequence remained unbroken today.

And while we’re covering off pointless questions and phrases, Tim’s “Weather looks good, fancy a ride? ” text at 11am has at least two things I’d like to take issue with. Firstly, Tim and I have ridden together lots over the years, he’s younger, quicker, braver and technically way more skilled than I, but nevertheless I still enjoy riding with him. Because for all those annoying attributes, he’s a man who can string together trails just far enough outside my comfort zone that every ride is always a belter. And yet, experienced MTB’r as he is, he still MADE A POSITIVE COMMENT ABOUT THE WEATHER.

That’s the mocker on the ride weather then, and my second issue is the accuracy of his forecast was somewhat at odds with the sheeting rain smashing against the windows of our house. As it had been for about a week. Still riding is always better than not riding, so off we went into a cheeky rain shower that followed us round most of the loop, joined by some finger numbing chilly winds, and the day fading away at the speed of night.

Better get our skates on then. The Malvern ridgetops are beguiling in this weather because the superb – for Mountain Bikers – sponge like geology guarantees hard packed trails. But the wind on top today essentially took your already boat like bike and attempted to add a sail to it. So we stuck on the muddy margins, climbing through the murk and descending on slippy edges with 6 inches of greasy path between you and a short – yet eventful – plunge into the valley bottom.

The last of which was superb. Having the hills to ourselves, we briefly took our bikes for a nice walk in the rain as nobody was looking, before remounting with a sackful of gravity desperate to be unleashed. Tim picked an exposed trail, clinging on the lee side of the hill offering occasional grip, significant rock and the aforementioned fall line plummet for any rider showing a lack of commitment. In the dry, it’s just fast, silly and too damned busy on a hot, summers day. Now it was a study in concentration, body position, real care with the brakes, and one second choices for the only ridable line.

Proper mountain biking then we decided some ten minutes later as we hit valley bottom, gloves sodden, feet moist and – in Tim’s case – a rather wet arse from the look of things. I tried hard not to gloat on the properties of Endura’s finest plastic pants, but I may have gone on about it. A bit.

Anyway, the bike is washed and lubed, the horrid stuff is in the washing machine, the rest of it is steaming gently in the workshop and I’m off to see exactly how much pie a honed athlete such as myself can consume in one sitting.

Riding in the dry and warm is fab. It really is, but this last few weeks have convinced me that proper mountain biking happens in the less popular seasons. All good I’d say.

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