Pablo is my friend. Well, at least that’s what I thought until he finally persuaded me to go mountain biking with him on Sunday.
His tactics were brilliant, during a coffee and a cake that he had just paid for, he asked if I would go. I did the usual I wasn’t sure routine, and Pablo countered with the child response. Whatever I said he asked again, changed the subject, asked again, talked about anything at all, he’d ask. I got bored and said yes, and that’s when my fate was sealed.
Getting up at nine on the Sunday morning was a struggle enough, then on with the gear (once I found it all) and a quick stop to panic about changing my brake blocks. Meanwhile my girlfriend did the wonderful gesture of making me some bagels for the trip there. Let me tell you, don’t stuff two bagels down your throat some twenty minutes before cycling all the way up a hill. Not the best feeling in the world.
Now, I’m not making excuses, but I haven’t been out cycling in a very long time, once up to the Pentlands when I bought my girlfriend her new bike, and before then it’s been absolute ages. Sure I’ve been on the road, but not actually off road. One of the last times I was really out for a long stretch on some more technical routes was with a friend from work, and I ended up flying headlong with the bike still attached to me and landing smack on my shoulder. This resulted in a slight dislocation, and a tiny amount of pain once I’d unknowingly popped it back in. It also meant an Ambulance picking me up from the Pentlands.
So, let’s just say I was a bit wary. The climbs were okay, I’m obviously not carrying the same stamina I was back then, but the climbs weren’t that tough. When we finally made the top we encountered snow. Yes, we were really at the top, Glentress is quite a hill, and we are all mad. So began the decent.
I was wary at first, taking it easy and trying not to get caught up with the others who had run this before. I’ll just go at my own pace and enjoy it. I started to as well, I was even remembering some of the wise words my old cycling workmates would give me. No, not “get lost, stop following us around”, I mean tips such as
- Cycle over a hill, not up to it
- Look where you want to go, not where you don’t or an obstacle
- Cycle over an obstacle
- Release the brakes a little
- Keep the weight on the rear
Check, doing all that, and doing it all rather well. It was around here we were on a cool section with jumps, double and triple bumps and banked turns, all very nice and I was actually remembering why I liked mountain biking so much. Confidence high; speed building; enter enjoyment thought corner turned; rocks ahead blocking view; over the top; bumpy and muddy ground; crash.
Yes, crash. Luckily though I didn’t come off the bike. Unluckily I fell on my side against the embankment and scraped along mud and stones. Ouch. There was quite a bit of pain and the slow release of blood from my knee around the hole ripped in my leggings. Kindly, some of the guys stayed with me, and they were trying their hardest not to laugh, well done guys.
So I continued, and as I did my leg stiffened, the scrapes rubbed against fabric, and my leg began to get pretty sore. I really had to drop back the pace and even stop and get off on a few sections as my confidence was shot again. As I had crashed my mind was replaying the shoulder incident, and I wondered how far it was to walk to the car park with a dislocation. Now I remembered what I didn’t like about mountain biking.
We finally made it back though, and I’ve been in pain ever since. Bed sheets are particularly uncomfortable, as is moving the left leg after it’s been sitting for any length of time.
Still, the exercise was great, company was good, and the fresh air was well needed. Thanks Pablo. I may not be cycling next week though, I’m sure I have something important to do!