More on that later, I am sure.
Right now I am sat in lodge bar, with a pint of lager, my arms, hands and wrists are starting to ache. The less said about my backside the better I feel. I am also nursing a pretty impressive bruise on the inside of my right knee and I have no idea where it came from.
Today was tough. Very tough. Well tough for me. I am sure the others loved it (they found it tough too). Well apart from Geoff who had some issue with his front shocks on his bike that meant he couldn't go as fast as he wanted to. So he was just frustrated.
Anyway the day started with an epic cooked breakfast. This was much needed and we all stocked up for the day.
We didn't realise what a day it would turn out to be.
Geoff was the proverbial boy on Christmas day, a new run had just opened and he was really looking forward to being able to ride it before his brother. Which naturally meant lots of lies about how easy and long the route would be.
So all kitted and wrapped up we stood in the car park ready to set off. I made a schoolboy error of setting the Gib-pro off from the start and although I have gotten some decent footage the camera battery died before the really big decent. Although Nick and Geoff both had their cameras so there are some photographic evidence from the day.
Off we set, mostly to a chorus of 'oooh that hurts' or 'why am I doing this again?' A word to the wise padded shorts are a must when mountain biking. I am so glad I have mine even though it still hurts to sit a saddle.
Off we went to the foot of the mountain to start the long, long, looooong climb to the top of the new run 'Blade'. The climb actually shares segments with another route called Skyline. Which probably gives you an idea of where this run ends up.
Now a little admission. I am getting better on downhill sections - still reached some parts that are beyond my pay grade - but I really suck at long climbs. Shorter bursts I can do but today was a slog. So I decided to multi-sport it. Every time I felt I could not climb anymore I would yell 'cyclocross' jump off the bike and run/walk for a little bit.
Right so the accent began. Slow and steady for me and rapid and well done for everyone else.
And the accent continued.
In fact most of the day was spent climbing.
I am sure it wasn't but I can only remember two major sections that were quick and mostly downhill and one of these was the very last section.
Now I am not complaining. It was amazing and the scenery here is incredible. However when the rain is pouring, your bum is very sore and the strength has gone from your legs constant climbing can get a little thin on the nerves.
To cheer myself up I decided to manual every slight mound I came across. This lead to my new nickname Chris 'manual' Gibson.
Similarly we have come up with other nicknames for people.
Paul 'clipped out' Sheehan.
Geoff 'one more climb' Flower.
Nick 'p***** in a puddle' Simmons.
In fairness we are working on the last one.
So, yes, we rode and rode for nearly 5 hours. All with the promise of Welsh Rarebit at the end of the ride.
The final decent was, I think the correct term is gnarly! It was steep, sheer, rocky and fast. The switchbacks were very sharp and sudden and I must admit there were moments where I did not think I was going to make it without a massive bail.
But I did. I may have gone slower than everyone else but I made it, in one piece and without crashing badly.
It was so much fun in the end. Absolutely loved it. When it is a little bit drier it will be such an amazing route.
Once I am better at climbing though, of course.
Anyways went, cold and very sore we finally reached the cafe and saw Geoff talking to the guys there about his damaged shocks. We then took ourselves up for a bit of refueling only to find there was no Rarebit!
We did manage to make do with some well sized jacked potatoes. Other than Nick who had awesome looking scrambled eggs on bread.
A couple of cuppas and a slice of cake and we were good to go.
Nick and I had left our bikes down next to the bike shop, the guys there had decided to put the hire bikes in the shop rather than risk them getting stolen. To be honest, I didn't think that would have been an issue but apparently so. Thanks guys from Skyline, I was so impressed with them I bought a t-shirt (which is very nice but Geoff has the same one as well!).
A quick 4.5 miles home along cycle tracks (not less than 2 miles Geoff) and it was shower and recovery time once again.
The rides today are here and here. Yesterdays is here.
Finally to finish, things I have learnt so far;
- It is better to hire bikes because things always seem to go wrong with them which requires lots of money to fix - Geoff.
- When nature calls you go where ever you need too - Nick.
- Manual over everything to look better than your ability level truly is - Chris.
- Staying in bed all day is probably the right thing to do when it is hammering it down outside - Nick the Meerkat (yes he is here, no I don't know why he hasn't blogged yet).
- Even when you are doing everything possible to get over loosing your nerve after a big crash, these things take time - Paul.
- There is never just one more climb - All apart from Geoff.
- Enthusiasm will get your through even the most difficult of rides, but only if you also have the skill to deal with the terrain, the breaking of your bike and your moody friends - Geoff.
- There are parts of new rides that when the rain has been falling for months on end do in fact look like the Somme - All.
- A hot shower cures almost everything, but for everything else there is a foam roller - All, especially Nick.
- Finally, whatever the weather, whatever the conditions under foot/tire and regardless of how good, in the zone, or whatever. Being outside with your mates is still the way to do it, especially if you are doing something that you have a mutual interest in.
I am going to sign off in a minute to enjoy the football and some more beers. Before I do, I have really enjoyed being here again however it does consolidate the feeling that I have already found my sport. I am a trail runner. Next time we come I will take Nick up on his idea to bring our trainers and take a day to run some routes up among the mountains.
Right beer and football time.