There is no doubt I need to pick up some skills on the Kinesis. And have more idea of what I need to practice, so when Caroline Stewart offered to help me out, I was never going to say no!
Luckily the wind had dropped a bit by the time I arrived. I was worrying a bit, but after we had got on the bikes – it turned to concentration as I followed Caroline and P into the local park. Up and down two short steep banks, with a reminder to keep my weight forward (as the front wheel has a tendency to lift and I don’t really want to go over backwards!) and some riding along the bank on the off camber sections. And then off out along some trails.
Unsurprisingly I came very close to coming off when I hit a tree root at the top of a short steep bank. I got dropped a little on the way up between the trees, and only saw the root at the last second, hitting it and nearly toppling off into a nearby hollow! Thankfully I didn’t! They both waited for me as I qualified what happened!
Some great windy trails, lots of gates to go through or around or step over. And some wooden boards over the marshy bit. Caroline told me exactly how to ride them, and although I rode into the step up onto them thinking I was going to hit it too slowly and fall off, I didn’t. Having spent years teaching myself to think ‘fuck it, relax and see what happens,’ I did exactly that and rode up without an issue. That helped majorly with my confidence!
Ironically I don’t feel nervous as such, just a little unsure and tense. If that makes sense!!
A quick sighting of Broadmoor. I’ve known it was around, but never sure of exactly where, or had any idea of how huge it is!
Then following Caroline (and P) up a quite steep section of trail up into Swinley itself. Where I was pointed to watch one of the ‘red’ mtb routes, where they fly through up a short steep bank covered in tree roots.
Onto a loop then, sitting behind and trying to follow the bike in front. A straight, puddled section, which I hung back a little, trying to take it all in. A quick stop and a chat before blasting down and around, up and down and up and down, trying hard to follow the bike in front. But cautious. Gritting teeth and using the bit of strength I have to chase up the gravelly sandy, stony tracks. Trying hard not to get left too far behind, as I try and use the same lines Caroline does.
We stop with P for a few mins, he’s had a mechanical. Caroline asks if I’d like to do the loop again, damn right! P comes with us this time as we do it all over again. I’m a lot more comfortable this time – as it’s easy to follow someone you trust who knows the trails well. I find it easier to relax, although a corner nearly catches me out as my line is rotten and I wasn’t concentrating on what was ahead of me! By the time we hit the little rocky climb back up, my legs have gone completely but I force myself up up up. Trying to catch my breath when I get to the top! I have a tendancy to freeze a little when I hit longer muddy sections, and I know it’s relative inexperience. I’m a hell of a lot more comfortable the second time around. Even when I’m knackered!
Taking a different line through a deep muddy puddle (the third time we’ve done this section) – I nearly hit the big Heras fence. But the adrenaline kicks in as I chuckle and explain to Caroline what I did.
I’m so pleased that both of them are so patient with me, and Caroline explains things easily. Some of which I understood already – like why to follow the rut in the mud made by the rider in front.
Huge thanks to both of them for letting me tag along. And for cleaning my bike!
Hugely enjoyable. It requires a hell of a lot of concentration and presents an interesting challenge, plus I don’t care about getting muddy! It’s tough when I’m as unfit as I am, but hopefully starting jogging again will help.
You can’t beat a confident teacher, especially with patience. Even I laughed at me today, whacking myself around the head with the bike, squiggling through mud and getting dropped (my brain and body worked but my legs definitely fell off on the last loop!).
Thank you both!