Sunday morning saw me out riding off road locally which is something I’ve never done before which sounds a bit odd on reflection. Normally when I get a chance to ride I head up into the Dales but that does involve a car drive of an hour plus each way which stretches things out and it can often mean that the people I normally ride with can’t make it. As I work on projectsnail this year I’m keen to ride whenever I can as riding regularly will, I hope, help me to improve and won’t leave too long in gaps for me to try and remember the tips passed on by Ed Oxley in January. I’ve mentioned previously that I’ve been incredibly impressed by Garage Bikes but not only are they a great workshop they are helping to build a community of cyclists locally by putting on organised shop rides and women only rides as well as riding with friends. Al invited me to come out with them on Sunday which meant a lie in instead of the crack of dawn car journey and also meant that I could start to learn what’s available to ride right outside my front door. I’d heard that there was good stuff to ride but to be honest was not sure where it was. I was a bit nervous as I’m not very good but I’m trying to improve and what better way that riding with local riders on local trails.
When we set off from the shop there was a slight eeeeek from me as they all pulled manuals and bunny hops whereas I was thinking curb/ lip don’t clip it and crash before we have gone 100 yards ! As I began to relax however the ride was a total blast with all sorts of varied terrain but I found it amazingly hard to get my bearings as we looped round areas that I’ve never seen but knew were never more than a few miles from my front door. Occasionally we’d pop out onto a road somewhere and I’d get my bearings before we vanished off through some gap into a wood which provided a whole new perspective on the area where I live. The riders were great to me as well providing tips and advice which meant that I rode some stuff I would not perhaps have normally contemplated including a couple of very steep bits and some steps (Ed voice in my head chin up let the bike roll) which went OK. I found my abilities being stretched but not going to far (ideal) and as things went on I found myself relaxing a bit more as well on the bike instead of my normal death grip which could be to do with slowly increasing confidence but also perhaps that my battered steed has had a bit of serious kit fitted with new Shimano SLX brakes and some Lizard Skin grips. I can’t tell you much about the technical side of these additions or talk through modulation or anything but they all felt great and the brakes in particular seem fantastic and confidence inducing.
One moment I was pleased with was a steep bit going down to a stream crossing, I was very nervous on the way down but the encouragement to keep rolling meant I got down in a sort of controlled fashion but was so pleased with myself I then forgot about the stream and ended up standing in it. Following on from this was a steep incline (see pictures) that the lads I was with were determined to try and get up. They enacted Sisyphus by hurling themselves repeatedly upwards but none of them managed to get to the top. They made coming down look a breeze though. I didn’t try this but managed to get myself round everything else and had a great time. Can’t thank my co riders enough for their encouragement and support, they were seriously good riders but more importantly nice people. Hopefully the snail will be doing a lot more local rides.