Monday, November 01, 2004
Is it dark or have I got my eyes closed
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!!