Use it or lose it!

I must have started half a dozen blog posts with that title over the last 10 years but it is never more apt following yesterday’s ride.

Single track
Some tracks are getting narrower at this time of year

The trails were bone dry. Too dry! Obviously the roots had traction but the chalk, clay and flint between them had turned to ball bearings. There are some well know tracks up there that have gone from relatively fun and easy to quite technical at speed simply because they have become so narrow with the undergrowth (and overgrowth) and, with such heavy use round here, the roots have become more prominent. Whilst I may have lost some of my skills I do rejoice in the increased difficulty. Since I started  the equipment has made riding easier/faster/safer but so have some of the trails. Many a gnarly track has become like a motorway as the numbers of riders has increased. After all, the challenge is one reason to ride. There’s the fitness side and the “being out in nature” bit but for many it’s the thrill. I saw a bunch of riders on full suspension bikes and some with knee pads (they must have smiled at my lycra – albeit Endura MTR bibs – and skinny tyres), you can’t tell me that they are not up there for the thrills and spills.

However, it’s one thing to encounter danger and master your fears in a smooth and fast,

The roots are getting higher, just wait until they get wet!!!

flowing descent and another to be getting each line wrong, braking in the turn and barely getting your rear wheel off the ground. You might say, “Past it! Give up! “ But it’s the challenge that is what is so great about mountain biking. Whist I have more experience than many I know that several times every single year I am going to go on a ride that is closer to ice skating than cycling. I will get scared but then get used to it, master it and, as the rain continues, the greasiness gets washed away, and the riding becomes fun rather than something to be feared. Bring on the rain!

That said, I need the get up there and get in tune with my bike and the ever changing texture of the trails. Last winter the most fun that I had on the bike was the end part of the Lion Trail in pouring rain. Signing up for some Gorrick races will help focus the mind. If you want to increase your skills why not contact Jimbo at South Downs MTB Skills.

Here’s the ride. Short and sweet as I wanted to be back early as it was my wedding anniversary. I have just realised that I have been mountain biking for as long as I have known my lovely wife.

Bike: Trusty Scott Scale 900 SL Race bred, trail friendly thoroughbred, of course, full suspension is better at nailing the trails but a hard tail is so much more sketchy, and even on yesterday’s experience,  fun.

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