I thought I’d be frightened of the mud – its all in the mind!

I’ve only had one off road ride since our Whyte demo weekend on 8th September. With all the wet weather I have been putting off riding wet trails in favour of the narrow lanes of Sussex. Use it or lose it is a fact and I was worried that I’d lost it – my confidence to ride the treacherous wet South Downs. So last night, fearful of the conditions, I faffed about with tyres. I took off my Crossmark LUST that I have only used twice and put on some knobbies: Schwalbe Rocket Ron’s 2.25. I instantly transformed my race machine into a trail bike. I spent an hour trying to get them to inflate tubeless but failed so I opted for tubes ( Foss). My Bike is now 260g/9oz lighter: result!

Wiston Bostal - prettiest climb I know
Wiston Bostal – prettiest climb I know

I rode with Matt whose riding is being affected by work, commuting and young kids (I’ve been there) so it wasn’t going to be a hard ride but still I was nervous that I’d slip, lose my confidence and then fall apart in fear of the trails. Sure my wheels slipped about a bit but having such a relatively wide tyre I took it all in my stride and my confidence grew and grew. I rode the Blue Run twice; it was in better condition than the last time that I rode it when it was all dust and no grip. So with the combination of trail conditions and tyres I began to feel confident. In fact, too confident – I crashed. It was a good crash though. They do happen. One that makes you feel safer. I did it going for a faster line than I’ve done before on the last compression on the Blue Run. I cut it too tight and punched my right hand into a sapling, twisting the bars sending me flying over the log. My finger is cut and blue but knowing that I can go for it, crash and feel good after really does bolster one’s confidence. I came back elated as I didn’t seem to have either lost my touch or nerve which usually happens with too much road riding. Also, it didn’t seem that muddy either. Its all in the mind – spending the time an effort to set the bike up with the right tyres was all it took. I must ride our beautiful trails more often!

I will, however, fit a quick release seat clamp as we went down some really steep stuff and sliding down with my saddle jammed in my chest was not the most relaxing experience. We are so lucky here. The trails were truly wondrous today.

Last berm of the Blue Run
Last berm of the Blue Run


It started cold but soon warmed up. I had Endura MT500 ¾ knickers, Endura MT500 Spray baggies, Endura MT500 gloves, an old Fox fleece (the non lined version of the Fox Draft jacket), an old lightweight Gore Windstopper jacket (equivalent to the Contest jacket), Northwave Celsius GTX boots. Just right. You may have been a bit hot with this lot but there were a lot of stops on this ride so it didn’t get up too much of a sweat. All topped of with a Kask Vertigo.

Northwave Celsius GTX boot
Northwave Celsius GTX boot

Northwave Celsius GTX boots

These have a carbon sole, Gortex upper, Neoprene cuff and pull closure. They are 100% water proof and warm. The sole is actually stiffer than either my Sidi or Northwave Strikers so they are a real performance shoe too. The closure and neoprene cuff is high yet really comfortable around your ankle. They are a must for winter riding and whilst the £149 price tag might seem high its only £2 a ride to keep your feet warm and dry – they last several years and can be worn from October to March (6 months, min 24 rides over 3 years – at least)

Kinesis FF29
Kinesis FF29

Bike: Kinesis FF29.

Route: Strava

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Rod says:

    Great article. It’s tough to get inspired on these cold dark evenings but the beautiful winter sunshine makes it all worthwhile for the early morning rides.
    Mtb is great for all round fitness, I love taking clients out to explore the trails. It’s amazing how many office bound people really relish the mud, it must be a primal thing!
    Crossfire Elite Personal Training

    1. Hi Rod,
      Those very same clients would think nothing of paying a fortune to ride/ski in the Alps and yet what we have here is free. More people should pay for tuition/coaching/guiding as they would enjoy their riding so much more.
      Keep looking after those office bound folks.

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