The pre-breakfast* Malvern hills ride is full of many wholesome andÂ good things. One of them is the impression that you have this small package of awesome pointedness all to yourself which, considering the barrier to entry must be breached by head torches and frozen knocking knees, seems entirely reasonable.Â For a good year, we scoffed at the late rising fools playing unhappy slalom with a phalanx of other grumpy trail users.
Until now. Sure we expected New Years Resolutions translating to puffing fatties pushing up hills for a couple of weeks. And there is always the odd introverted rambler lost in his own world so never acknowledging a friendly hello (or a less polite “fck off them you miserable twat“). But these last two weeks, it has gone properly mental.
In the previous 50 weeks, we’ve probably seen a single digit accumulation of mountain bikers before the 9am watershed. Today we say double that in a single ride with a side order of over-wrapped family groups and their mad dogs. And frankly, I find this bloody irritating. Some of it is – I admit – trail snobberyÂ personified by the Colwall Night Riding crowd, who perambulate line astern with ever increasing numbers and ever decreasing velocity. They’re another bunchÂ who cannot find it within themselves to chew the fat with non-groupies, although that may be blindness brought on by an ever escalating Lumen arms race.
Honestly, on a dark night I’m sure the Malvern residents are frantically dialling 999 to report an extremely slow moving UFO.Â But seeing trail numbers increase by day makes me even more irrationally angry.Â I want to stop them and demand their cycling credentials “Have you ridden at night EVERY week come rain, wind, snow or creeping apathy?” “What about taking in that extra hill even when you legs are pretending to be un-set jelly” and “Do you know the way of the secret paths? Do you dare ride them when it’s shitty and muddy?”
The answer has to be no, which makes them undeserving in my view, and that’s the view that counts. And I’m counting far too many trail users when only the righteous are up and riding. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised after a recent thread on a cycling forum had so many authoritative voices on winter conditions in these hills. All I can hope for is their enthusiasm will be diminished, and we’ll get the hills back to those who have properly suffered. It’s that or get out of bed even earlier, for which I am insufficiently motivated.
On the slightly less grumpy side of things, we had a brilliant ride and the ST4 is big-grin central over all terrain. My latest fascination for all things statistical shows 5 rides in 8 days, climbing over 8000 feet in a little more than 105 kilometres.Â So impressed with my performance, my breakfast choices were bacon or egg. I couldn’t quite decide so plumped for both.
Advance warning, Thursday Night Ride this week. And I’m bringing my list of questions and big stick, so be ready if you’re out on my trails 🙂
* which is good as it’d be recycled noisily within minutes of the first climb.