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The Nzo shorts project we have been immersed in for the last six months shows promise at last: it has been a long time coming, but we are now confident we are on track to present some really great new shorts…

Meanwhile, my life-long experiment in physical fitness continues. My thesis will be on how long it takes an average person to get back in to the same shape he/she was in before ceasing all superfluous exercise for repeated periods of various durations, factoring in gradual loss of faculties due to advancing years, with a small allowance for imaginary benefits delivered by a constant upgrading of exercise equipment (bicycle stuff).

I will publish the results from a 24 hour care facility when I am beyond delivering meaningful results, or Mars if our most realistic long term retirement plan pans out.

The latest episode has been the usual crushing disappointment. A minor health niggle, a virus, crap weather, the Tour de France, and the Olympic Games created a perfect storm of excuses to break my usually rigourous winter riding schedule of getting out thrice a week.

I had hoped that no bike riding for a month would lend a sparkling freshness to my return to the forest. No such luck.

Before the lay-off I had a rare streak of hot form. I rode a singletrack climb with a woman I know who can ride rings around me and most other people. If I can engage her in a conversation about something that interests her, and I can make sure my end of it only requires a single syllable, uttered every sixty seconds or so, I can stay within earshot of her for sometimes 3 minutes at a time. Only a month ago, we talked about nosebleeds for almost the entire ascent of Sidewinder, a nasty kilometre of grovelling that pays off in downhill options.

After my layoff, on the same trail, I talked with my demons, at walking pace, until I had a nosebleed myself and had to stop. Unlikely, but true.

Five rides into bashing myself into shape, and feeling more than halfway back, I accompanied a non-mountain biking visitor on an early morning hour of trails, just to show him what it is all about. He took my flash bike, I rode the singlespeed. He may not ride offroad, but he is a very good triathlete, and I spent an hour on the rivet in one gear keeping up with him.

Later on, I couldn’t help sneaking out again, it was such a stunner of a day and the forest has started to feel like summer.

Note to research folder: 6 rides do not amount to enough preparation to support two rides in a day, especially if one is on a singlespeed.

Another short layoff is required.