Thursday, 27 May 2010

Trusting the bike that bit you...

My Voodoo bit me last week. Took a chunk out of my elbow and had a quick gnaw at my right knee for good measure. Evil little git. Cruising fastly down an innocuous, used-to-be-rocky descent, thinking how smooth and quick it is now when, POW! Front wheel smacks hard into something invisible and KERBANG, I'm flying through the air in slo-mo, with 'this is going to...' OUCH!

Followed by that cursing, near tears, two minutes of indignant pain mixed with self hatred - YOU IDIOT! - followed by limping CSI forensics. Yes, that's the gouge where the bars hit the ground. And the skid mark and, oops, that'll be two inches of angle iron poking out of the trail. Which would explain why the front tyre is flat and...

So of course it wasn't the bike's fault at all. It was mine. Predictably. And whoever stuck that bit of metal in the middle of my trail. BASTARD!

Tube replaced. Home limped to. Damage tallied and Wanga stowed in the bike cave.

And now two weeks later, scabs and bruises crisping and fading, I contemplate riding the thing again. Except now I don't trust it. Despite knowing that actually the crash wasn't the bike's fault at all, somewhere at the back of my mind, I kind of suspect that my Pace would have shrugged it all off, shivered, shuddered and carried on. But slim-tubed, steel hardtails aren't quite as forgiving.

The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist.

And it's not rational, but somehow I feel I have to change the bike to trust it. Because it's bitten me once. So tyres that are perfectly good are about to be torn off and replaced with something else. That rear Saguaro that's always felt a bit loose in sketchy dry conditions, it's out of here - the compound's just too hard, right...  And yes, I know, it was the front tyre that did it, but what's logic got to do with it?

And the front, which incidentally has flatted again just sitting in the cupboard, a Minion DHF, that's going too. Despite me knowing rationally that nothing I replace it with is going to grip well on sharp bits of metal. But it's out of here anyway.

Because strangely, trust isn't completely rational. And it's easier to blame the bike than my own blase incompetence. Easier to assert that the Wanga is actually possessed. And evil. And new tyres? A ritual offering to appease the bloody thing.

But the funny bit is that while I know it was my fault and I know that the bike was essentially blameless, changing the tyres will make it feel better. And it'll be the first step on the ladder to rebuilding faith in the bike and, more importantly, faith in me riding it.

What tyres for trust?

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