Bucking the trend of recent weeks I managed to join our ride (Dave, Rich, Jem, Jez, John, Lee and myself) yesterday for 23 miles of riding across Ranmore, White Downs, Box Hill and Mickleham. And there was I thinking I was just the person who talked about mountain biking rather than actually doing it!
Actually I found it hard work even though I was feeling less than fully fit. For some reason I kept thinking my bike just felt too heavy even though it was clearly me that was lacking in the strength department. It just goes to show that there’s no substitute for off-road miles if you want to get fit for off-roading!
Maybe I was also distracted by the knowledge that both Jem and Jez were riding nice, light singlespeed hardtails while I was lugging a rugged full susser around! That was my excuse at least for the way they just seemed to scamper off up the trail leaving me plodding along behind…
In truth, I’m still a long way from where I was immediately prior to breaking my collarbone, the fear of another fall and the knowledge of just what that might entail is still weighing heavily on my mind. Psychologically it’s difficult not to reflect that a broken collarbone after hitting a tree at speed counts as getting off lightly rather than a calamity in itself.
Yesterday I also had a big moment coming down White Downs as the back end of my bike fishtailed wildly out into a deep gulley, causing Jem to say he thought I was about to high-side the whole thing as he followed at a discrete distance. I thought the same.
It’s things like that which make me realise that riding off-road should be treated with respect. It’s easy to be blasé about what we do and in general we stay well within our limits. Even yesterday my corrective counter-steer and weight back reaction was instinctive and immediate but it shows, if it needed underlining, how quickly disaster can happen.
I shall persevere though and I’m sure will continue to gain confidence, particularly once I’ve got past the six month mark in terms of recovery. There’s no sense in me looking to prove a point and having a set back so I’ll just concentrate on incremental improvements. And maybe get myself a new set of tyres!
Any suggestions for wet chalk!!