I am writing this in pain as I have crashed my bike once more, nothing serious, but enough to put me off the bike for a few days, again. First I want to rewind to last Saturday and a brilliant sunny ride at Mabie with Gael, the first short sleeve ride of the year and my first time riding the red trail there.
I have visited before but the conditions closed in and 2ft visibility and 1ft of snow meant that I cut the ride short after the first, short loop, and had never been back to complete the bigger loop – Mabie is a figure of 8 layout with the first loop being about 20% of the total. What a blast! The trail here is a lot more natural feeling than the likes of Glentress, with more roots and naturally occurring slabs making a lot of the features, and some massive man-made berms to add some contrast. There were quite a few cars parked but once on the trail we were practically alone for the whole day, meeting a lady at our first breather spot, we met her a few times, overtaking and being overtaken as we each rested and drank water, until we eventually lost her too and had the trails to ourselves. This probably explains the natural feel of the place, the lower traffic means less damage and repair work is needed so the trails don’t get so ‘sanitised’. I really enjoyed the flow of the trails and with all my riding and skills practice recently I definitely noticed an improvement in my speed and riding ability, I was riding the trail faster blind than I used to ride trails I know well.
I look forward to returning to Mabie now that I have a better idea of it and see how much faster I can go. One of the features is a stream crossing, which leads onto a climb (called Scorpion so I am told), after sessioning the stream to get photos we carried on and there was the scorpion, looming above me, I dropped down a few gears and attacked it, overtaking Gael (she is a downhill demon but hates the climbs!) and was giving it my all to get to the plateau in the trail, Gael was cheering me on, so I dug deep, dropped to granny ring and span my way up the last steep bit to the fire road, gasping for breath but proud of myself, that was a sharp climb and I did it, now I have to do it every time I visit! After finishing the red route we popped along to the freeride park and had some fun on the jumps, Gael was trying to teach me some of her skills, I have a long way to go but can now get both wheels off the ground and land in a controlled manner, progress!
On Sunday I marshalled the POC enduro at Ae forest, stationed at the start of the 4th stage I once again got to unleash my awful banter on each and every rider. My job there is to make sure they all set off the timer as they start the stage, it’s great fun seeing the different lines and styles of all the riders from the pro’s to the first timers. I might even go and try riding some of this stuff soon and maybe even enter a race next year, but for now I am enjoying the social aspect of marshalling, living the van life and helping the races happen whilst enjoying views like this!
Back to last night, BMX Wednesday, I moved it to an outdoor track for a change as the weather is great and it won’t last in Glasgow so we have to make the most of it. I was a bit late in arriving and there was a fairly large squad riding when I got there, brilliant! Most of the folks were my mates but there were some local kids too, which always makes for good banter. I had decided to take it easy, having hurt my shoulder at BMX last week, I had been nursing it all week and this was my first ride since Mabie where I noticed it was not quite right. Shorts, tee, knee pads, helmet, all present and correct, I did a few laps and felt great, I was faster, smoother and better than my last visit to the track at the end of last summer, all this riding really is paying off! I started applying my teachings from Gael to the tabletop jumps and was noticing an improvement, I was getting about halfway over them, yay! Setting off from the start ramp on one lap I think my foot slipped off the pedal, I don’t really know, but next thing I knew was a pain in my lower abdomen, I am sliding face down along the floor and the thunk as my helmet connected with the gravel floor. Ouch. Luckily I walked away fairly unscathed, some bruising to my internal bits n bobs, a couple of grazes and a bruised ego. After checking in the van that all was ok I donned my elbow pads and swapped my helmet for a full facer and returned to ride again, so that my last memory was not of a face plant! I managed about 3 laps before conceding that my leg was actually pretty painful and calling it quits for the night. Thanks to good friends I made it home and onto the couch with a cup of tea and bag of frozen peas. My leg hurts to extend it fully, I am walking with a limp, and feeling sorry for myself, but as I was wearing knee pads and a helmet I walked away just fine. From now on full pads and full face helmet at the track at all times for me, especially as I am wanting to go faster and jump now. Lesson learned. Here’s my pathetic grazes that do not in any way represent the pain caused by landing on the pointy end of a handlebar!
– “That’s a Booboo” – Neil Macmillan
Until next time keep it rubber side down folks!