When work, life and Mountain Biking collide…. Sometimes it hurts. Part 2.
So far: I had a day off work, My family were all otherwise engaged, I went out for an MTB ride, it rained…. A lot! I crashed, It hurt…. A lot! I had coffee and cake, the adventure continued….
About 3/4 of the way up Cheddar Gorge there is a gate leading out into a bridleway that I’ve taken the family on countless times. It’s beautiful up there…..
Those in the know, know that if you ride out the back of Black Rock you can make your way towards the Mendip Hills with only a short stint on the road. The rain wasn’t letting up, the wind was relentless and the last stretch of single track that led to the ‘Dips’ had transformed into fast flowing stream. Some parts were crank deep and it took all of my concentration to keep the pedals turning and the bike upright…. And that was when my second helping of pain was handed to me. An over hanging branch that I hadn’t clocked, caught me right in my eye and damn nearly took me clean off the bike…. Gutted!! Finding a clean patch of clothing/skin to check for blood was a challenge in its self, but when I did, it confirmed my fears…. This time there was blood, not a lot, but enough. I washed it off with a squirt of my water bottle and kept on rolling. I was too far in to turn back, and besides…. The best MTB trails of the ride were coming up!!
The trails on the ‘Dips’ never disappoint. I Made my way across the trig point taking descents down to and across Burrington Coombe. All injuries were all but forgotten by this point! Muddy, rooty single track, loose rocks and wet, slippy leaves littering the big wide open descents… All of the elements that make winter riding what it is…. Gnarly and a whole load of fun! After a good 5mile or so ride home, I arrived on my doorstep, soaked to the skin, covered in mud from head to toe, battered, bruised, bloody and with a big grin on my beaten up face. With a few hours before the family were to descend on our humble abode I knuckled down to the mass cleaning of Bike, kit and rider…. By the time the family got home the only trace of my adventure were my injuries, which I wore with pride in the days following at work, knowing that I was the only one that had lived that ride, and trials and tribulations that surrounded it. Epic….
Friday 30th October was quite frankly, a struggle! With a 05:30hrs wake up call I was in work setting up my ‘Evolve XT class’ ready to unleash a tough early bird workout on my members!
By mid morning my day is in full swing and I’m getting ready to teach Kettlercise (one piece of kit, hundreds of awesome exercises!) I knew that this one was gonna hurt…. Although I can get away with not completing the entire class I still had to demonstrate the ‘moves’…. My class took great pleasure in laughing at my apparent pain in completing the demonstrations, and some felt the need to do my wife’s job and preach at me “if you choose to do these extreme sports you’re going to get hurt” It was hilarious, and the funny thing was, they were right…. But I hope you’ve worked me out by now, I won’t be giving up riding my bike anytime soon…. The usual 11 hour Friday was over and a short 1 mile ride home was all that stood between work and being back to family life. Dinner, kids bath time, bickering, laughs, tears, cuddles and bedtime stories, I wouldn’t have it any other way! But in the back of my mind I remembered that somehow I’d got a ‘pass’ a pass to go out on a quick local MTB ride with fellow MRG’r Damian the following morning…. A dawn raid with my mate. Little did I know that crashes do indeed come in threes….
My alarm was set for 07:00hrs. In reality I knew this was pointless, and sure enough my darling daughter didn’t disappoint with an 05:00hr wake up call. I donned my ride kit and went downstairs to watch back to back Peppa Pig until it was time to go ride….
Kids sorted, Cuppa tea on the bedside cabinet for the wife, and I was off!
On arrival at Damian’s house I was met by his over excitable working spaniel pup (future trail dog) and the sight of a very new, very shiny new steed sat proudly on his decking. This new burley trail bike was the reason I’d bust out my full bouncer for a ride which really didn’t warrant a big trail bike. (Sorry, bike geek speak moment) We rolled out towards our local woods, like two naughty kids cutting class at school, but we were ‘cutting’ life’ even if it was only for an hour or so.
The woods were eerie to say the least, with a fog consuming us as we hit our favourite local trails. The autumnal leaves blanketed the woodland floor, hiding every root, every rock and every dog poo left by lazy owners. Not being able to see what lay beneath the leaves meant that the ride was way more skittish than usual but the more difficulty of navigating the rooty, slippery terrain was forgotten as I listened to Damian laughing out loud at the way that his new, now slightly muddy bike was gripping the surface, giving him the confidence to have fun with the new lines we were carving into the firery orange woodland floor.
As we exited the woodland on the north side of the hill it was clear where we were heading….. My favourite place… Sand Point, Weston-Super-Mare, UK. I had spent many of my school holidays as a kid exploring every last inch of this beautiful part of the coastline and was excited every time I reached the end of the single track road, past the WW2 lookout posts and begun the short ascent up to the trig point.
Once at the top it was play time…. The fog was thick, I’d never seen it like this before. Not being able to see the beach and rocks below made it feel like we were riding a ridge in the mountains. With my GoPro mounted backwards to capture some of the action with my #MRG teammate in toe, I hopped rocks, and hit new lines, making my way to the point, and then ‘it’ happened…. Sand Point Crash
Was it because I was tired from the endless months of broken nights sleep thanks to my ‘little princess’? Was it because my body was still hurting from the crash only two days earlier? Or was it because when we push our limits, when we strive to be better, faster, more rad, the inevitable is gonna happen?…. All I know is that somehow I’d escaped another big off without any serious injury! It must of looked gnarly as Damian’s first words were “Are you ok mate” This was not a normal response after seeing your mate stack it…. A normal response would be to point at you, whilst laughing at your misfortunate bicycle dismount. Although I was hurting I think my biggest injury was the hammering my pride had taken! My second crash in as many rides, and this one was right in front of my mate and caught on camera!
I dusted myself off and we pushed on. I didn’t want to hang about too long and think about my battered body! The rest of the ride was a mix of coastal single track, and grassy descents. We rode towards the furthest most point we could travel, before we were met by the Ministry of Defence border. The grass was sodden, and water poured off of my trusty The Mudhugger (Other mud guards are available but none of them are even close to as good!) As I looked across at Damian I could see clearly that he hadn’t had time to buy himself a mudguard…. A moment in which I forgot about my aching bones and laughed as he struggled to focus on the trail ahead. Our final few miles were on the quiet Sunday morning roads and led us straight back Damian’s kitchen and a well received coffee and a biscuit or two. I had a 2 minute ride back to my house where I was met by my super excitable kids and a cup of tea made by my poor bike widowed wife. The temptation of ‘forgetting’ to tell her of my unfortunate crash was soon forgotten as I couldn’t wait to download the crash footage and share it with the world!
But there was one final thing that had to be done before I was allowed to set foot in the house, and it was my lads favourite thing to do. He got to hose down daddy in the garden after my precious Bike had been washed and received its post ride lubrication….
It was not even 09:00am, I’d already had an adventure worth writing about, and it was time to fix the balance once more. A day of family time before Monday would once again be upon us, and the struggle to fit Work, life and mountain bikes in would begin again.