One of the nicest things about last week's week-o-freedom was that I found another opportunity to take my bike out, and this time to actually take it out somewhere it would be re-aquainted with the concept of mud and tree-roots.
I had a fun afternoon of just me, my trusty Spesh, an OS map of Exmoor and some glorious sunshine. It wasn't the world's longest ride (2 hours, and not that many miles covered due to a lot of stopping to check the map), but it was lots of fun and reminded me why I should do it more.
I don't ride singletrack as much as I'd like to because I'm a lazy arse and don't make the effort to get the bike in the car and drive to a trail-centre, and it's rarer still for me to venture out and try and make up my own countryside routes, because I like someone telling me where I'm meant to be going and taking the decision-making out of the equation. But I know that area of Exmoor fairly well, having spent a lot of childhood summers down there, and not having to drive somewhere from the camp site to do it was just way too much of a good reason not to. I remembered though one of the beauties of off-roading away from a designated trail: not having the fear of holding up other people all the time. For a slow, novice biker like me, that's quite a relief, because I always worry about getting in the way of the wippet thin boys (and girls) on there several-thousand-pounds-worth-of-bike and them either laughing at me or cursing. Not that that has ever happened to me - usually I hear people coming and get out their way, and the people I have bumped into are always super-friendly, but I still have the fear.
Anyhoo - it was lovely - long climbs up lanes and rocky bridle-ways, swoopy fast descents round valleys, technical climbing and lovely undulating single-track discovered in the woods, some testing bits of descents with roots and baby-drop-offs, and a final rock-strewn steep wide descent back to the valley floor before hammering flat-out down the trail by the river to the village with chunks of mud flying everywhere. Then a cream tea to refuel in a tea garden before back to the camp-site. Oh, and possibly, a mis-reading of the map resulting in me ending up on a footpath that got so narrow I had to walk the bike up for a quarter of a mile - ooooops!
I was even took to heart the advice from the bike clinic the week before and spent a satisfying hour and a half in the sunshine cleaning the bike saddle to wheel when I got back - right down to sourcing a spare toothbrush and spending a good 40 mins scrubbing all the accumulated muck out of the chain rings. At least I won't be ashamed of my bike when I wheel it into the workshop for it's service tomorrow!
It gets me thinking though - I'm going to take a bit more time off in August, and I think it's time I planned ahead and made the effort to visit some of the trail centres in South Wales - so many possibilities for fun and all for the price of some petrol.
I also finally invested in some new bike shorts, as my previous ones had got to the point that they were really rather too baggy. I've been umming and aaaahing for ages about what to get, and finally ended with some Endura Singletrack shorts after a trying on session at my local Cycle Surgery – bugger me, but they're great! Heavier duty fabric than my old Altura ones, but still cool and with nifty zipped vents on the thigh. And considering I've not got the slimmest of thighs, they fit beautifully, just skimming over everything. I'm very pleased.
Now just need to find some decent shoes - I've been toying with the idea of jumping on to the cleats bandwagon for ages, and a discussion with one of the guys at my local bike shop has pointed me in the direction of the pedals I want to get, but I need to get shoes for SPD cleats too (since I'm very definitely not using my pristine white and pink and suitably girly cleats I use at the gym for spinning) .... does anyone have any suggestions / recommendations on decent mountain-biking shoes?
- Posted from my iPhone
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