Itâ€™s been an odd weekend â€“ not totally fulfilling nor entirely without incident but odd none the less.
Firstly â€“ and you may wish to imitate the sound of a one personâ€™s ego trumpet being sounded here â€“ I managed to limp off that total mind fuck that is the log drop at Chicksands. It looks a bit like this.
For those of you who donâ€™t ride bikes, think of the challenge as essentially riding off a small cliff with no ground visible whatsoever as you fly blindly into space. For those of you who do, Iâ€™ll just lightly bask in your adoration.
There are a few caveats though. Firstly itâ€™s taken a year of non progression to get this far. June 26th 2005 was a date neon pinked in the ride diary as I conquered the qualifier for the log drop. Once youâ€™ve done the large ladder (drop 5-6 feet, carry about 10-12 feet), youâ€™re ready for the log.
Well not me obviously. Six more visits, six times it never looked likely. Thereâ€™s one bigger obstacle that the log drop, and at this rate Iâ€™ll be 192 before attempting it based on this level of progression. Secondly I was talent compensated in terms of the bike. A kindly soul lent me a six inch travel full suspension sort of trail bike that a proper rider could launch off Jupiter and land smoothly in Milton Keynes.
And for most of the day it wasnâ€™t really happening. This super sprung bike mirrored my normal chosen steed for Chicksands only in that had two wheels. It was longer and heavier which made for some quality nose first dives off the ladders. Big forks saved me but didnâ€™t really give me much confidence nor did lending it to a mate who rode it off almost everything with consummate ease. So not the bike then. Like that was a surprise.
The run in to the drop is a fast downslope downgrading to almost flat before the log appears large in your focus and the rest of the world disappears. The phrase â€œA leap of faith” could have been specifically coined for this drop. Iâ€™d never really tried it before â€“ oh Iâ€™d rolled up to the end and stared down into the abyss but at all times both hands were locked hard onto the brake levers. This time though when I took a sighter, I knew itâ€™d have to go the next run or itâ€™d have beaten me for the day. Maybe forever. Lots of my riding buddies, who I donâ€™t think are beneficiaries from of my death in service insurance policies, repeatedly point out that thereâ€™s no reason I canâ€™t ride this. Except that Iâ€™m shit scared of course â€“ Iâ€™m not sure theyâ€™ve taken that into account. I was twitching nervously, sweating from glands Iâ€™m sure donâ€™t exist in any medical dictionary and breathing like Darth Vader having sex with a vacuum cleaner.
Top of the slope, clear my mind. And I mean clear, think of nothing at all, not technique, not consequences, just release the brakes and be a happy passenger cleared for take off. Half way down my brain rebelled and attempted to wrest control of the brake levers but by then it was far too late. Failing to stop at the edge is akin to falling off the edge of a waterfall. The first thing to hit the ground would be my head closely followed by an all body impact from a 40lb bike. That was even scarier than just â€“ as those who understand the nuances of such things â€œriding off the fucker”
I just rode off the fucker then. It was fine, no big deal, dunno why Iâ€™d made such a huge fuss about it. Certainly the seconds of silence between take off and landing were mildly perturbing but really there was no excuse for the emotional celebrations that followed. I threw the bike away and high fived complete strangers smug in the knowledge that I was now in the â€œlog drop club” and other people werenâ€™t. Yes, I really am that shallow. No I donâ€™t intend to do anything about it.
Riding off it looks like this for those with cahoonies the size of village show root vegetables. I was having it somewhat more medium verging on the small.
But to â€œown” any drop (frankly Iâ€™ve never owned a drop, but Iâ€™ve rented a few on a good day), one has to survive three times at the scaffold of fear. Only then are you admitted to the club and can cheekily ignore it for a while on future visits claiming â€œfork issues“, â€œinappropriate tyres” or â€œbad fish the previous evening“. But now it wasnâ€™t messing with my head, it was just another thing I knew I could do. Not well, not that quickly and certainly lacking in any style, unless hanging on for dear life and gurning has come back into fashion, but serially and without too much fear.
A little faster, a little more committed and little further out before falling back to earth cushioned by my borrowed big springs changed my state to â€œlog ownee”. Iâ€™ve never been so proud â€“ no honestly.
Nobody cares though. All my friends did it ages ago, my wife and kids donâ€™t understand it and â€“ rightfully â€“ care even less as long as Iâ€™m back in one piece and even my ego shudders against the prospect of shouting it from the rooftops of an Internet forum.
I tell you what though, it sure beats hell out of putting up fence posts. I should know, thatâ€™s my reward for playing silly buggers yesterday.