10 September 2021

Proper mountain bike trails

 Two weeks after trying out my mountain bike on the nearby trails I took things a step further. I had asked my friend Kate if she wanted to show me some trails in the nearby woods. And she did! So we met up on the parking lot. This was going to be the first time in my life I would do a mountain bike trail! Where I had had my debut, the paths had been designed for pedestrians. I was sure this was going to be different! And I imagined there would be easy trails in there. 

Kate appeared and pulled a rather sophisticated mountain bike out of her car. I wasn't worried about that; I know the important thing was the rider. My bike might be completely inferior to hers, but that would be insignificant compared to the difference in skill level. But we would see how things would go! Kate explained that in the woods, you have to do some of the routes on the gravelly forestry roads. The mountain bike tracks are not an independent network. But the good thing about that is, that you can pick and choose which bits you want to do and which you want to skip.

We started biking up a gentle hill. So far so good. It was actually a bit of a while before we got to the first part of the actual mountain bike trail. I invited her to go first! I know I was going to be very slow. But it was quite a doable route. She was waiting for me at the end of it, where it ended up on the forest road again. And she asked if I wanted to just do this bit again, or go onto the next section, which was a lot more challenging. But I thought things were challenging enough as they were, so I went for a rerun of the original route. So we did!

When we had done it twice we proceeded to the next section; this one would be the challenging one. Kate said there were sections where she gets off, so I knew I would most certainly also get off the bike. Probably very often! And this track indeed was a lot more rocky. I walked many bits of it. At one point I heard someone behind me, so I quickly got off the track. Two people came past with an appropriate speed. I don't think I will get to that level anytime soon!

Kate was waiting for me again, and we had a little break with water and a snack. And then we went to do the third section. That was indeed a bit in between the other two. I got off the bike several times again!

Then we had to decide what we would do next. She mentioned a rather uneventful look a bit further up, so we did that loop as well. Even though she had claimed it was uneventful, I walked several bits of it! When we had done that loop we had to decide what to do next, and I voted for lunch. It was practically noon. So we biked back to the parking lot and got our lunchboxes out. We sat down in the ruins of the mine mill there. Kate there said that we should go to Coed y Brenin some day as well. She has now seen the limits of my capabilities, and figured that there would be trails that would suit me there. It sounds like fun! She also said I may want to hire a mountain bike at least once, just to feel how much difference a better bike makes. I suppose that is a reasonable suggestion. I didn't feel like the bike was struggling with what we had been doing, but you can't compare until you have tried a different bike too! I remember years ago swapping skis with the woman, and noticing how easy skiing can be if you only have the right kit. And I will never be a good skier, just as that I will never be a good mountain biker, but there is a difference between being pretty much hopeless, and vaguely competent.

So what was the verdict? I had fun! But I don't think I'm made of mountain biking material. I think I should just find some easy trails in the surroundings, where I can have some exercise on the bike. Just as an addition to running! I do not want to dedicate the time needed to get good at this, supposing I even could. I know practice makes perfect, but I just never have had the need for speed. Even on my road bike on an asphalt bicycle path I don't go full pelt; it is way too likely that some unobservant dog walker appears out of nowhere and makes your life difficult. And if I come off the bike and hurt myself, I am toast! I live alone; if I can't look after myself, then who will? And I know this is a rather injury-riddled sport. I have not forgot Martin breaking his collarbone and having to deal with seriously reduced quality of life for about a year! So I think I will bike like I climb; with no talent and no ambition, but quite happy to do fairly safe stuff just to be doing something challenging (challenging for me, that is) in the beautiful surroundings with nice people. Come to think of it; that's pretty much what my approach to skiing was as well…

clumsy selfie

coming down a path (pic by Kate)

On this picture it looks like a normal bike path! It was more challenging than that. But indeed; I am a lightweight for getting off here. Pic by Kate

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