A gig down in Exeter provided the perfect opportunity to throw the bike on the back of the car... put on my cycling kit (layers people layers) and head down to Haldon forest and their mountain bike trails. With 2 blue trails and 1 red it provided an excuse to try out a new bit of kit... but more about that later.
A slight delay whilst I waited for my pet snake Dusty to finish engulfing the rat I fed her meant that kit packing was done in a hurry so that I could get to the forest with enough time for a couple of hours hard work. As soon as I stuck my head out the door I added a few layers because my car was solidly iced up and the mercury was barely registering 2 degrees C... EEK!
My new toy ... an Ion air pro lite cam with wifi was charged up and ready to go having undergone preliminary testing the day before out on the Ridgeway. The videos which I had downloaded to my computer were of good quality... capturing sound and motion with something akin to professional quality... hence my eagerness to get it filming out on the trails to demonstrate my mountain bike prowess... i.e not falling off (yup thats as far as it goes)
I reached the forest.. unloaded bike and kit and headed for the first of the blue trails. Slightly harder than the other .. the kiddens trail ... from what I remembered gave good rewards for the uphill efforts and so it proved as I headed down the first section... skidding ... sliding... crossing obstacles with ease... all captured for posterity... or so I thought!!
I noticed the light alternating from green to red and the realisation dawned on me that I had left my micro SD card attached to my computer at home... duuhhhh!
Bugger... no posterity today then. Nonetheless I enjoyed the fast flowing trail which I negotiated with little difficulty and then came the up!! Mitigated somewhat by the sight of the wild ponies grazing in the forest at the top... it nonetheless killed my legs. The ponies seemed to like my bike when I stopped to put my heart and lungs back together again... with one even taste testing my handlebars. Apparently the combination of sweat and rubber didnt tingle his tastebuds and he wandered off with a snort of disgust.
Hurting though my legs were at this sudden explosion of exercise I couldnt leave it there so headed for the Spicers trail... a somewhat easier trail.. though still rich in smooth sweeping turns.
Despite my camera fcuk up.. it had turned out to be a good day.. preparation for tomorrows longer outing.. hopefully with an SD card.
On the way to my hotel I brought my body weight in food.. not worried about the calories unsurprisingly.. but Tescos had sold out of SD cards... thwarted again!! Tomorrow was another day so I headed off to my hotel for a quick shower and change before the final Damned gig of the tour!
The gig was fantastic with loads of people signed up and a chat with The Captain afterwards left me with a huge grin on my face. Needless to say it was not an early night and had just gone 1am when I crawled into my hotel room.
Today I blearily opened my eyes... got ready.. had breakfast (it was included in the room price and therefore rude not to) and headed to the forest once again .. this time via Argos where an SD card was purchased ready for the days downhill fun 😁
It was a balmy 5 degrees and given that I had found myself shedding layers quickly yesterday on a far colder day.. reason would suggest that I go out with one layer less... however reason didnt dictate and within 10 minutes I was heartily regretting the winter jersey.
At this point I would like to make a note that I always carry spares... tubes.. chain links.. chain tool... zip ties. Everything I might need should my bike break (within reason). This note is especially for David J who found himself with a broken chain and the wrong chain links!! But more of that later.
My first effort today was directed towards the as yet untried red route... the Ridge trail. Red routes are typically more technical in nature than blue and generally require a higher level of technical skill. This one had ìts odd technical bits but on the whole was on par with the blue Kiddens trail... apart from several sections that were narrow with a nice drop to one side. I was slightly more careful than usual... at least this time round .. and this trail was a beauty. Downhill for the first half with many sections that almost literally took my breath away as I skidded round corners ... narrowly avoiding hugging any trees. The uphill when it came was steep but gradual with no sharp hikes in gradient and therefore I pottered up it with the valley below revealling itself with every twist and turn.
Then it was back to the Kiddens trail... only this time faster...
I love it when you know a trail and you get faster and faster until you have reached the point where you are holding onto control of your bike by your fingertips... one wrong move and its likely to be painful. Which means the concentration is absolute. Nothing else penetrates the brain space other than the next inch of trail! The real world fades into obscurity and all that is left is you... your bike.. and the trail.
I was on the easier section of the kiddens trail which has a few rises which cause the bike to leave the ground for a short period of time... a few of these and when I started peddling again... my chain siezed.
Cursing my luck but also thankful that unlike David.. I carried the means to fix it.. I turned my bike upside down to find that my chain had somehow almost tied itself in knots. Despite this I managed to untangle the chain and set it back on the cogs with a minimum of fuss. And now risking sounding like a girl... I mean sounding like David J... I did break a nail doing it! 😁😁
That however for once was my only injury and I didnt fall off once which is somewhat surprising given my usual trail bruises. Kiddens completed again I headed out for the Spicer trail and then the Ridge trail. The mist was settling around the hills giving the forest an eerie look but deadning all sound leaving peace all around save from the sound of my tyres crunching the gravel. I saw few other crazy people... most had probably looked out of the window and thought better of it .. but that was their loss. I had the trails to myself.. the silence and peace was mine alone and I revelled in the feeling that my body was responding to what my mind was asking of it. Rarely do body and mind combine in perfect harmony... usually one if not both are moaning at me.. but today they worked in sync and life was perfect for those moments out there.
The day was topped off by a visit from a Robin... no doubt checking that all was well with me... either that or laughing at me 😁
Stay tuned to One Challenge At a Time by liking my facebook page.. pics up already.. video to come soon and 2017 challenge launch at the end of the month!