That’s a rubbish picture.Â But it’s illustrative and may save a 1000 words such a picture paints. So be grateful. We’ll be back to it in a bit. But first I feel the need to talk about plans.
John Lennon said it best “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”*.Â It wasn’t so long ago stakes were grounded in a heartland of what’s important, and I genuinely subscribed to a short term view that Christmas would be upon us before the world of work impacted on something I’d labelled as recuperation, but felt like sloth.
Lazy I can do.Â Slobbing about is pretty much a core skill. Tinkering in a fettling manner worries me not a jot. Until the room housed elephant trumpets a noise like guilt.Â Got to make ends meet, got to prove something, got to give in to the notion that working somehow has more value than everything else. Too many of us have the meme of the breadwinner and it’s a hard habit to shake.
Even so, distanced from the world of work by four hours, many miles and a different culture, our holiday was rooted in a strong desire to concentrate on stuff I’d missed not stuff I might be missing. Which worked well until TurkCell fired up the iPhone SMS feed and an offer of possible work hit the screen. I vacillated a while before replying in a non committal way and expecting – as is the way of these things – any vacancy to be long filled before I arrived back on rainy UK tarmac.
It didn’t. I ended up filling it. Two long interviews, the second conducted in a rather unbalanced Al v a panel of five.Â So my proposed rest was usurped by something properly interesting, but basically rewarding behaviour I was trying to shake. Next year, I’ll sort that out. Important to keep telling yourself that.
Mitigation of a sort was to run away from all things vocational and see if my new bike works with dust on it. Yes, I did indeed use that very rationale for why a very long weekend to Tenerife was more than required. Known as the ‘land of eternal spring‘ I care not if this is marketing nonsense, as I’m desperately keen to get away from the ‘land of the eternal flood‘
Since arriving back from warm and sunny Turkey, I have been enveloped in weather that could summarily be described as ‘more than a bit shit’.Â Accepting November is perilously close to real winter, it still seems more than a little unfair that it’s done nothing but piss water onto saturated ground on a daily basis. Surprisingly I’ve ridden loads and more surprisingly I’ve managed to do so without serially nutting local flora an fauna. But it’s been close, especially with the Rocket sporting a tyre selection that has the rear desperate to instigate a conference with the front every time the trail turns sideways.
Superb selection I keep telling myself for dry and dusty rocks come a week Wednesday. There’s a counter argument suggesting I’ll never get there, if the God Of Survivable Slides looks in another direction.Â Two recent rides provide context; the first was back on the carbon hardtail as it wouldn’t rust after bonkers rain. Shod with mud tyres, it performed superbly in the cheeky woody trails under the Malverns. One descent I was elevated from back to front by sheer dint ofÂ beingthe only man left riding. My buddies were in various hedges and ditches having gone with a rubber selection marked certain death. Back on the rocks tho, those fantastic tyres came close to fetching me a face full of wet granite.
Next ride, grab the full-suss and hope for the best. Which hill clamping fog and sideways rain clearly wasn’t. One of those rides where getting to the end without a major blood injury tastes like success. It’s still fun, but Christ I’m bored of slogging through the mud. I was bored of it in August and now it feels as if it’ll never end.
Except it will. On December 5th. When me and my pal Martin will land on an island that’s basically an African archipelago. Four days of sunny and dusty riding await. Along with four days of tall tails told over cold beers, while sitting outside watching the sun go down. That’s what that picture is all about. Riding mountain bikes is absolutely a four season sport, but don’t delude yourself that endless muddy death marches are the only way to get through the crappy ones.
* He may have said it better in the Beatles Back Catalogue. Possibly in Yellow Submarine. But you’d probably have to be amp’d off your head to be sure.