Monday, November 08, 2004


Mud, nothing else, just mud

The title just about sums it up. Busy weekend this time; Saturday saw Ben and I trying on suits for his wedding and once that was done we got out in the woods and found.....mud. Now, normally I enjoy the forest in any weather but this time I didnt have time to look around. The normally slippery roots and rocks were now covered in slimy mud with a nice slippy leaf topping, masking the obstacle from view. The bike's handling was not dissimilar to driving a rally car with the front and back wheels sliding all over the place requiring some fairly deft balance and technique.

Considering the conditions we moved pretty quickly with only a few hairy moments. One spot on a trail dives steeply away on your right and the rider must drop into a ditch and then pedal like mad up the other side. This time a kind walker, badger or just wind had deposited a branch on the left of the trail leaving only 6 inches to ride.. or so I thought! The 6 inches were leaves which actually covered the edge of the drop. I dived into the ditch, avoided the branch, kept right and bike slipped off the edge and threatened to spit me into oblivion. Idiotically I put my right foot down which was about 3ft above the slope and I dropped. Somehow I managed not to go A over T down the slope and was able to recover and push the bike out.

I cant see the conditions getting any better this winter so better get used to it or put the body armour on!

Later all.

Monday, November 01, 2004


Is it dark or have I got my eyes closed

Bad Ass Bikes did a fabulous job on my bike although it did need a new headset, lots of TLC and copious amounts of grease and silicon. They also put some sort of treatment on the frame and if it wasn't for assorted war wounds you would think the steed was brand new. Nice one BAB!

Sunday afternoon was set aside for a tad of riding this weekend and I couldn't help feeling a bit of sadness as I contemplated the flith that would soon throw itself at my lovely clean paintwork, but hey, thats what it's there for!

Ben came over about 4:30, a little later than arranged and we headed for Leigh Woods. Now for the more intelligent among you, you may remember the clocks going back on Saturday night and it was for this reason we now found ourselves in thick woods with only the slightest glimmer of light filtering down though the trees. No problem, we are tough lads so off we set.

The first 1/2 hour was the standard mix of water, mud and rocks but by the time we were 40 minutes into our route the latter had ceased to be a problem as we simply couldn't see the floor! Now I know that night riding is a bit of a sport in its own right, blasting through forests with just the narrow beam from your rack of halogen lights to illuminate the path and I can see the attraction. However, take all the above and then remove the lights from the equation and you see our predicament, even better next time you are riding a trail, hopping logs, ducking branches and trying to hit roots square on to avoid being spat off, close your eyes. Seriously, close them, and you will get the idea. It was pitch dark, no lights, no moon, no nothing.

Sensibly we decided to avoid the next part of the trail and find our way to the path, but being 'mountain bikers' we couldn't go back, that wouldn't be cricket, we would find a new way down. So now it is pitch black on an 18 inch wide rocky, rooty trail and we are root finding (get the pun - root finding, route, yeah - ahh forget it)! Stupid? Yeah I think so.

At last Ben says he thinks he saw a break in the undergrowth to our left so we stop, backtrack 10 feet and head down.....something. It is soon apparent that this is no trail, it being less than a foot wide with a nasty great rut in the middle, I found myself plumetting downhill in what was obviously a natural drainage channel. I began to think that I could see or perhaps my other senses were compensating, I even heard a ghostly voice saying 'Use the force Luke', but the reality was gravity pulling me into a black void at an increasing velocity.

I figured that as gravity was the only thing working in my favour at this moment I might aswell go with it, stick my weight over the back wheel and pray for no fallen trees in the way (being a bit of a coward at heart I unclipped one foot from my SPDs anyway!). With a sudden thud and a huge compression of my forks my front wheel ploughed into a ditch full of mud, unclipped foot managed to get down before a unwanted face pack ensued.

Sy some miracle this brought us down on the main path home.

A little scary? Yup. Fun? Bring on next week!!

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