This post is sponsored by the Order Of The Mong, of which I am both a certified practitioner and disciple, first class. Eleven years man and older man dutifully returning to the shrine of stack, the crack-cocaine hit of damp earth and hard stump. Clicky ankle, wonky shoulder, much stitched knee, partially repaired elbow, broken nose (twice) and various bone pieces floating about in a fully organic game of Operation.
It’s barely worth donating my body to medical science, there really isn’t enough left.
We’ve suffered two months of trail conditions so dangerous I’m considering suing for attempted murder. Eight weeks when every ride has been more about survival than fun. It’s hard to know what is lacking the most; grip in the viscous mud or sanity for those riding upon it.
Not now apparently. Lovely and dry. Fast and mud free. Summer quick, joy bloody-well unconfined. Stacked full of happy texts-Â my phone greeted me as I lumpily scrolled through the messages. I wouldn’t know of course being sidelined with a rib somewhere between badly bruised and cracked. Sodding painful either way. Well I wouldn’t have known had not my riding buddies felt the irritable urge to pass on the happy news. More than once I couldn’t help noticing.*
I’m not sure which accident cracked my rib. I do know there were a few of them; crashes that is not ribs. For which I am quite properly thankful since while breathing isn’t optional, it’s certainly bloody painful. Coughing I’m trying very hard to avoid through the art of displacement. Which works to the extent that the I sneeze instead. And that’s eyes-squeezed-shut, deep breath (bad idea), forearm chewing unpleasant.
A week into the month of mong, a many-time ridden drop had been planted with an unseen obstacle of old fence wire. I say unseen, it glowed brightly in my helmet light during my post crash stumble looking for reasons why me and the bike were separated by a few feet and a sore shoulder. Ten minutes, and many metres below, was around the time it became apparent that search had failed to pick out my new and expensive GPS lying on the ground.
A tired retrieval called time on that ride. Two days of honest appraisal suggested this new crashing phenomenon was clearly not my fault. I refused to blame over-caution and lack of commitment instead pointing a grubby digit at Mr Slick and His Many Slithery Trails.
An omnipresent being with a sick sense of humour, he carpeted the entire Forest of Dean with sufficient danger to ensure barely a gnat’s whatsit between rider and victim. There’s many ways to tell this story, wandering off the narrative to point out my extreme bravery on some earlier jumps, a fantastic foot-out tank-slapper save and various acts of riding skill passing entirely unnoticed by everyone but me.
But in the end, I just fell off. Over a jump. Again. Not sure why, various explanations – none of them creating a time-shift to have another go.Â Over the bars. Again. This time with an obvious injury that was going to take more than a pint to shake off. Tried that anyway which made the next couple of mildly scary mid trail jumps pass without incident. Beer is indeed for winners. Or whiners.
We had many more to celebrate Haydn’s birthday. It wasn’t until three days later, when considering hacking my own nose off to prevent further sneezing, did I accept this wasn’t residual soreness.Â A quick visit to Rob-The-Prod** suggested I’d probably live, but it’d be a few weeks before aged bones were pointing in mostly the right direction.
There’s something to be learned here; it’s not something obvious around old men not being able to jump or treating conditions with some respect or some need to brush up on basic skills. No, because that would make this my fault, and the logical conclusion from that is it’s time to do something easier.
So I’m going with the alternative version. Firstly consider a pre-beer ride to boost confidence and consider any further accidents some kind of bike related issue.
Oh and investigate one armed activities until spring. I’m thinking Darts what with it being a) a recognised sport and b) held in the pub.
* Possibly in the same way they may notice their bikes custom-motif’d with a key scratched message “Yes, right you fuckers, I got it okay?”
** My unofficial doctor. MTB’r and proper quack; “ibuprofen and wine, go ride next week, try not to fall off, it’ll hurt“