There are days when vigorously slapping myself is the only rationale response to some lament regarding life, and how difficult it is. Only this sting of self flagellation reminds me how incredibly lucky I am compared to those poor buggers who didn’t get the breaks afforded to me. For a start, I’m a northerner and that’s already starts you ahead in any race prefixed with ‘Human‘*
For the last three weeks, we’ve been riding bikes in conditions best whispered as summer. Ironically the turning of the seasonal ratchet to Spring has brought with it somewhat more wintry conditions and the return of the rain, but it’s still about a zillion times better than it was at the start of March.
When researching trenchfoot remedies held more interest than going outside. Everything creaked – bearing, chains, brakes and knees. Two events around this time hove into view and while my winter fitness suggested I’d easily finish them, I found it far simpler not even to get started. Which is a bit rubbish when you’ve signed up with friends who put in outstanding efforts – while I was more interested in riding what was in front of me, rather than something inked in when the dark and cold was endless, and motivation needed a firm prod.
So there’s a bit of guilt but a whole lot of joy. That’s the only word that gets close to flying on trails that a month ago afforded nothing but mud sucking slog which saps your power and your will to ride in about equal amounts. Now riding is less about damage limitation and more about revelling in the efficacy of legs and lungs campaigned through a grim winter. And giggling. And pointing at dust. And drinking cold beer in the sunshine.
Until today, my last five rides have been a rediscovery of why the PYGA is such a damn fine bicycle. Once in the Malverns, the rest of the time in the Forest including a night ride which had me wondering if these were entirely different trails. I’m sure at night there must be more trees. And less obvious lines. I responded magnificently by ignoring any faint trace of a trail, instead bouncing first lights and then body parts off innocent timber. Still nothing got broken and we had beer later so honours even I think.
After weather more appropriate for this time of year, I swept the sleet of the Purple Minion and explained to anyone who was interested that a 32lb bike of extreme stoutness adorned with a tacky 2.5in front tyre would be absolutely ideal for road riding. 10km of that in cold air, and under threatening skies had us rendezvous with the hardcore trail pixies who apparently enjoy lobbing themselves into space with no thoughts of the potentially bruising effects of gravity.
I took photos while they did their stuff. My bike is perfect for that kind of thing, and I am so clearly not. This kind of difficult juxtaposition worries me not a jot nowadays. Instead I revelled in the next trail far more suitable to my pay grade – winding between trees and without any obvious 20 foot gaps where I’d expect the trail to be. We enjoyed it so much, they found us another one which dropped into a gully full of baby head rocks lightly polished with damp moss. The mega is, er, mega here. It is so composed, so suited to this terrain, so effortlessly competent regardless or rider input, I cannot wait to ride this stuff all day in the Alps.
That starts three months from today. Between now and then will hopefully be filled with much more riding like this. But for the next 10 days, it’ll take a back seat to actually reminding myself there are other things more significant than mountain bikes in my life. The most important of all shall be sat next to me on a plans heading to extremely foreign places where we’ll spend the first few hours wondering where the kids are.
At home 🙂
* this may not be a universally shared view. But I’m from Yorkshire and we not terribly interested in what those birthed in lesser counties might think.