Monday, 25 February 2013

I can't stand up for falling down

Coming up with the title of a post can be hard work, so this week I've reverted to the tried-and-tested formula of re-using someone's else creativity, i.e. a song title. Though for a change, it has actually got some pertinence to the subject...

If you're one of those superstitious types who think that things tend to occur in clusters of three (though who knows, statisticians and probability theory experts might tell us there's no superstition involved, and there's empirical evidence to support it as a fact), and I think I might be, then I'm hoping that yesterday marked the end of an unwanted and indeed unwonted sequence - falling down or falling off. In previous weeks I'd fallen over twice when running - the first on ice, the second through a combination of tiredness and clumsiness - and yesterday I made it three, coming a right cropper on, or rather off, the mountain bike.

I was at Llandegla Forest in north Wales with my mate Neil, and we'd decided to do its Red mountain bike run. The Forest is a dedicated mountain biking site, and the trails are excellent. The Black run is seriously technical and quite scary, and you need to be younger/better/more confident/more regular mountain bikers than us to deal with it competently. Blue's a bit straightforward, whereas Red is the Goldilocks' porridge route - just right; some technical bits, quite a lot of 'berms' (which I now know to be banked corners, having ridden hundreds of the things in previous ignorance of their nomenclature), some nice gradual ascents, some brutal ascents, some boardwalk, quite a few humps to provide opportunities for 'getting some air' (hey there kids), some forest and some moorland. Super. And although Neil had ridden the Red many times before, and I had a couple of times before, a new section was opened just before Christmas which has improved what was already a nice and challenging ride.

So having parked just outside the centre because there seemed to be a problem getting into its car park, which we wrongly assumed to be ice as there's quite a ramp to the entrance (it turned out to be just a bit of lateness on the part of the car park opening-people), we started our first climb just after 9. The flurries of snow we'd been having since Friday had organised themselves into something a bit more coherent overnight, and the forest was delightfully white. More icing sugar-dusting-on-a-Victoria sponge than thick layers of white Christmas cake icing, but it had subsequently frozen which made it sound like you were riding on bubble wrap.

Anyway, all was going tickety-boo. One of those nice gradual ascents, notable only for the grouse that flapped out of the undergrowth a few feet in front of me, was followed by the first technical section in the forest. I went for it. But on the first rocky corner a layer of ice had formed that even hefty mountain bike tyres couldn't handle. What made the subsequent crash unusual was that quite often you know you're going to hit the deck, even if only for half a second before you actually do. This time I had no warning; one moment I was upright and the next I was crashing down on my left hand side. For the first time in my cycling life I was glad I was wearing a helmet; it took a fearsome bang on some rock. Had I not been wearing it I suspect the headache I had for 24 hours after would have been quite a lot worse.

I hopped back to my feet and carried on with the other 75% of the route, convinced there was no damage other to my dignity, which seems to have taken a few bashings recently. However, as the day wore on and the adrenalin wore off, the hip, thigh and shoulders started stiffening and now are all throbbing quite nicely, dammit.

What's sobering is that I suspect the first week of the Tour de France, and probably the other grand tours, sees the pros hit the ground as hard as I did yesterday, and they just have to get up and carry on, and quite often chase back to the pack. I'm not sure I'd have fancied a 100 mile ride today. Instead, I can admire the bruises and gravel rash that now adorn right shin, right thigh, left thigh and left hip.

All I can say is that it's definitely time winter moved on and gave spring a chance. The snowdrops may be out, but they ain't kidding anyone; it's still ineffably cold, and you still need your four layers and fleecy longs on every time you get on two wheels. Be banished you evil season!

1 comment:

  1. Hey Mr Roughtytoughty! And I believed you when you told me that enormous slice of toffee cake would ward off the bruises...


Tweets by @skinsalive