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It will get better


The preparations are made, the bike sits waiting in the sun and the shoes are parked outside the door. The last few bits get distributed in pockets or compartments of the backpack, and the ride starts.

Within a very short while it is clear where today will be on the grand scale of every bike ride, ever.

It is subjective, but it is hard to argue with legs that feel like they are made of wood. A bike that only yesterday was my second-favourite thing in the universe feels like its the wrong size. Come to that, so do my shoes. And even though I have checked three times, using that slightly bandy-legged move that allows a clear view of the rear cogs, the gear I usually use for this almost flat bit of fire road feels a couple of cogs too high.

And that brings me to reason number 47 in the book I might write about Why I Love Mountain Biking.
A road ride on a day like this would be possible, and with patience and perseverance could end up being enjoyable, but the temptation to turn around after ten minutes and go home would be hard to resist.

In the forest, it is always an option to just go really slow. OK, that is possible on the road as well, but really slow on the road feels really, really super slow.

Unless a bad day coincides with a group ride, creeping along at a sedate pace in a super low gear on the mountain bike is fine. Sooner or later, no matter how sluggish the pace, the top of a hill will arrive.

There might be a view, or a place to lie down.

One thing for sure about the top of a hill is that there will definitely be a downhill leading off it. Basic geography. No matter how lacklustre the climbing performance, coasting down a hill is good. Coasting down a trail with character - corners, jumps, a root or two - after that it really doesn't matter what sort of form the day has delivered. Two or three minutes of that sort of thing converts what was shaping up to be a bit of a death march into a different thing entirely. A couple of near misses and few little frights blend in to a series of unconscious actions that feel very right.

The juices produced in the uh-oh gland and the oh-yes gland drip into the brain pan, and before long produce a completely new outlook.

Here I was thinking this might be a short outing, but while I am out in the woods, I might as well go up there as well. Wherever up there might be.

A couple of hours later the world is back on its axis. A mountain bike ride that doesnt end at A&E is always good.




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