The rehabitilitation of the knee was fully tested by three rides in four days over the Easter weekend. After which my real holiday and the rain started, and much of the fun stopped. I am now a man tediously schooled in the art of plasterboarding. A skill normally abrogated to those with limitless boredom thresholds and ‘ave your arm off powertools. Sadly, the budget spreadsheet said no, and I inadvertently said yes.
Ride one was with my not-ridden-with-much-lately pal Ian who runs, walks and cycles in the Forest of Dean. Not all at the same time because a) that would be silly and b) I was already doing it. On my third unscheduled dismount, I lamented my choice of rubbish tyres, soggy fork and threadbare brakepads. This verbal lambastation went unheard by Ian, who had cleared off into the distance with his ten year old alu frame, one gear, venerable forks, v-brakes and a set of Panaracer Suicides*
We returned muddy but happy, and I’d committed to memory a choice selection of fantastic trails for an Easter ride with some friends who were scheduled to eat our food, drink the beer, ride some bikes and build a plasterboard ceiling. Obviously I was instantly lost on our return to the forest and never found ANY of the trails so carefully mentally waymarked.
But the great thing about this huge area of woodland is finding buff singletrack is akin to throwing a hedgehog at a dartboard**. This – and the happy navigational wild guess that deposited us back at the cafe – not only saved my bacon but made sure we were ready for some on returning home. Having ridden Jason’s fat almost-downhill bike most of the day, while watching him zoom off on my lovely light hardtail, made my need for food sit slightly behind that of a strong desire to lie down and not be disturbed for many hours.
The following day the boys then ceiling’d the big shed in double quick time, while I played to my strengths fetching tea and pointing our where things could be done better. As this wasn’t really adding much to “Team Plasterboard“, I dispatched myself to Morrison’s to clear the shelves of anything remotely BBQ’able. On my return, the roof was done, and the fellas were demanding more riding under sunny skies.
A quick mooch up to Haugh woods had us up to giggly armpits in rooty woodland singletrack. We rode everything I knew and found quite a lot more, all of which was dry, fast and extremely twisty. Again I was shorn of my proper bike, and instead rode the fully rigid Kona. A decision that had immediate consequences of loosening a brake pad, most of my teeth and a full re-organisation of my internal organs.
But sunshine, a working knee and a bit more speed brought the experience round to extremely satisfying. The prospect of finding the other 30k of Singletrack in these woods through a hot, dry summer could make even a trip to the FoD seem a bit pointless.
We returned and approached the shrine of the sizzling BBQ with revered silence. Before falling upon it and devouring the lot, much to the disappointment of an under the table based disposal unit. Murf looked particularly miffed at Al “three burger” Leigh who couldn’t find it in his stoney heart to even allow the smallest grain of sizzled beef to fall to nose height.
Top weekend. Fantastic weather. Non hurty knee. And because Yang must follow Ying, I am now putting the bored into plasterboard.
* The “Trailblaster” – a tyre that has as it’s unique selling point, a complete lack of grip in any conditions. Damp Roots?-certain death. Mud – uncontrolled slide into something pointy. Hardpack – from vertical to horizontal in all the time it takes to ask “any warning when these tyres go?”
** You know you’ll score big, just not quite sure what.