Tunnel Of Glove

Boardman CX - First ride

That’s it, right there. Documenting the maiden voyage of the good ship “pointless-niche” had me gloves off camera in hand. It was with great care the soul stealer was returned to its’ padded pouch, which may explain the lack of available ‘what the fuck have I left this time’ brain capacity to solve the difficult equation concerning a lack of hand shaped fabric and cold fingers.

I worked it out of course. Eventually. About a mile down the track. Which developed into a three mile round trip attacking the original location in some kind of frenzied pincer movement – as is the plight of the navigationally challenged man. Desperation even caused me to flick the GPS to ‘map‘ where all manner of symbols and lines randomly lit up the screen.

Moth like was I transfixed right up to the point where it became apparent I had absolutely not a single clue how this was going to help me. Or even what it might mean – “green probably trees/looks up/yep lots of those/white probably roads/looks down/nope none of those/excellent let’s go *rimmer red dwarf salute* THAT WAY

Boardman CX - First ride Boardman CX - First ride

Otherwise a successful outing measured by if you first do not succeed, redefine exactly what you mean by success. Which starts simply by stating that riding bikes on a school day* is always a good thing especially if your friends are torn between office window looks of longing, and the email ping of some smug bastard serially sending you photos of dry singletrack. If and when I’m sent down to hell, I’ll probably not bother to appeal.

The bike though was a tremendous success despite Halfords finest efforts to sabotage it with cunning incompetence. Take tyre pressures as an example each rated at 75 PSI which – if you have a special kind of mind – equals 150 for the pair to be metered out as you feel fit. Say why not 90 in the front, 60 in the back? The headset was almost tight enough to stop the fork falling out, but the threaded slack had been taken up by the brake callipers leaving both wheels shorn of any motion.

No matter, we were soon off to test the efficacy of the ride more/drive less ultimatum I delivered to myself about a week ago when crafting new buying bikes angles. First impressions were excellent, road bike stiff, adequately brisk on the road even with knobbly – if still terrifying thin – tyres and brakes that did something other than fire up your imagination of head on collisions. 15 minutes later we ‘had wood‘ where my guess at tyre pressures was exposed first by a wet root and then by some swearing.

A quick hiss and prod returned some grip to the strange experience of riding off-road on what looks like a road bike. It doesn’t feel like one tho, nor does it ape the characteristics of a mountain bike.  The best way to describe it is – well – spaniel.

A bar width track carpeted in Winter’s colours of dead leaf and live mud must be investigated and RIGHT NOW. A choice of an easy line or some ambitious slick root complex is no choice at all. The bloody thing is possessed by an irrepressible spirit of fun, it’s going to get you into trouble and while you might come out bleeding, you’ll most likely be laughing all the way to the fracture clinic.

Going home isn’t as rewarding as going long so best just hang on for the ride, close your eyes when your inner accountant screams “I can’t get over that, I don’t have a £500 suspension fork”, open your mind to the possibility of direct simplicity. But don’t be fooled that fun is analogous to immortal.

Riding cross bikes on woody singletrack, hanging onto the drops, carving lines by thought alone and remembering to breathe is, of course, a splendid way to spend your time, but it’s also transient.

You’ll get found out eventually; a big root, a dodgy line choice, a big ask for grip that isn’t there, an unwise squeeze of the brakes on a tiny contact patch and it’ll be “hello Mr Tree, can we be friends?” Hard work as well, but in one two hour ride, nearly 10 kilometres of singletrack led clueless and the spaniel from one end of the forest to the other with more than a few unridden tracks saved for next time. That’s a forest I’ve walked/ridden in for three years, but always considered lacking any decent trails.

One ride doesn’t tell you much. But it’s a ride that wouldn’t have happened on any other bike. And for that, we’re already into the positives. Soon – oh God please let it be soon – Winter will be over and there will be sun-hardened singletrack ready for an early morning raid, a lunchtime skive or a post work blast.

Boardman CX - First ride Boardman CX - First ride

A few more rides like that and we might have found ourselves a new Rog 🙂

* I am sort of on holiday this week. Which so far has seen me spend 17 hours working in London on Monday, and about the same here yesterday. This is because nice people want to pay me to work on my days off and I want to make sure the family are not rendered destitute. It’s a virtuous circle. Only not round. or very virtuous.

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