Sunday, 2 October 2011


Comedy Friday, Indian summer style and I sneak out into the heat to meet a couple of friends and ride in the sunshine. It starts badly when Rich realises that the lateral movement in his rear end is around the same as the up and down motion and abandons all hope to scoot home.

I am grumpy. It's fashionable to like heat and dust and sunshine, but I don't. I like dry and cold and crisp. I like ice. And frozen Peak ground that grips and rips like coarse Velcro. Given sunshine I mostly want to stop and bask in it. Look at distant hills. Yawn and doze and sleep. I don't want to ride in it with sweat running into my eyes and soaking my clothes.

The wrong bike, skulking. As well it might. Nothing to do with the rider's shortcomings...
And, like Gromit, I have 'the wrong bike'. I have my RC405 which after a change of head angle and fork and return to the original shock feels slow and heavy and just wrong. I have no idea why I brought it. Well I do, a small, quiet bit of my brain thinks it might be 'necessary' for the not very legit', rocky, twisty trail we've earmarked.

God knows why. Why I think the Ragley might not be up to it, it's ripped down everything else round here with a sort of bright-eyed, disdainful, insouciance.

And I ride the trail incredibly badly. Part of it I don't ride at all, I ride round it, and the rest I sort of thump and graunch and haltingly fall down. It's really quite nasty. And meanwhile Emmy makes it look easy and graceful and smooth and streaks off into the distance grinning like a cat that's massacred a whole park's worth of pigeons.

The rest of the ride is similarly rubbish on my part. I feel guilty for being grumpy and cussed. I choose a really astonishingly bad route back out of Glossop and even a new to me, entertaining, twisty, grassy descent doesn't change things.

So on Saturday I break myself in the sun on the road bike. Savouring the oddness of furnace-like heat, bright sunshine and wafting gently down back lanes strewn with autumnal leaves. In temperatures of 25˚C or so. You can't help thinking that however pleasant it is, the world is somehow broken. This is October?

Sunday. Redemption day. Early day. Head out with Dave Next Door and ride a succession of bad things on a weekend linked with the odd legitimate trail.  This time I'm on the 'right bike', the Ragley. Fast, borderline psychotic, and lover of steep things.

And the right one. A tight bundle of aggressive, slack-steering confidence.
 This time we ride the grassy, twisty downhill thing without the bike sucking the life out of it. Then twist our way round, via a chance meeting with a local friend out on his rather nice new bike, to the top of 'the trail'. A rubbly, rocky mix of steps and turns and twists that corkscrews its way down the hillside. It's as good as anything I've ridden in Spain or France or Nepal or the Andes and this time, I ride it properly - neat and composed and smooth.

Feeling relaxed on the bike and just, well, together. And halfway down I start to grin like an idiot, because it's a brilliant trail. And the sun is shining. And the Ragley's ability to slow down time on the steeps and the trickies means I never feel remotely out of control.

It is the right bike. And just for ten minutes or so, I feel like the right rider.

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