Thursday, 27 August 2009

"Adventures" off bikes

I've been trying my damndest to get some off-road cycling in. I tracked down a club near here, and I've been out with them twice (once in pouring rain, I chickened a few things, once in not pouring rain, and I rode everything I'd chickened the last time round - huzzah! I'm planning to take photos of the interesting bits, so I might post more here when I've done so). The problem is, whilst I really enjoy it, I don't really know where to ride, aside from the club (who I don't know yet) don't have anyone to ride with nearby, and on top of that, having ridden very little I'm not very good at it. That's fair enough; ride more and all will be well.

I have friends who are range from very good to jaw-dropping (in my eyes), but none of them live near here, so I only get to play with them when I go a-visiting. They also have lots of fun stuff to ride over near them, so I'm eager to get good enough to be able to ride that without bricking it the whole time. Again, that's going to come with time and experience, I know. I've been trying for months now to put in the time and get the experience, but it feels like such a non-starter sometimes that I can't help but get a little discouraged by it. We've had such mental weather on the nights that the club has been riding that a few times I've just not bothered to turn up (Hey, I made it to the pouring rain one, but thunderstorms, and high wind + bucketing it down extreme weather combos are a bit much for me - I don't mind getting wet, but since I have almost 0 confidence in good conditions, riding in a storm just doesn't feel appealing). In addition to that, aside from literally three small bomb holes (pictures to follow, as promised above), the local riding I've been introduced to is far from technical. If you're cool with riding on medium-chossy bridleway, or slaloming a little through a flat wood then you're going to be pretty much sorted for everything round here, it seems. Not that it isn't fun, it is, I just don't really feel like I'm going to learn much from it, and more importantly from my point of view it's not going to help me build confidence on the bike. I've tried to hook up with a variety of people when Up North, but between more Extreme Weather, financial woes (mostly of others), and the pressures of fitting things in around family time it's just not been happening.

This week, I realised that I'd left it somewhat late to sort out lights. I don't have any suitable to get me through even a dusky ride when we get to the fun bits (my recent experimentation has revealed), and it's getting darker from here on in. I've ordered some lights, but they're not going to be here by tonight, so that's going to be another week of not riding anything at all. I'm heading off up to Scotland early next Friday morning, and given I want to take both my bike and my Stuff with me, I'm not sure that I'm going to be able to fit in the 7-9 ride next Thursday either. I've also been looking at going on a skills course to try to learn something (anything!), but so far that's been comprehensively stymied by every fricking course I could make it to being Women Only.

I tried blowing off some steam about this to a couple of friends yesterday, and got pretty much blank incomprehension from them both. One outright said they couldn't understand why I'd want to do a skills course when there was nothing technical to ride round here anyway, and the other seemed to have pretty much the same opinion, but just didn't come right out and say it. Neither seem to really get why I'm so totally frustrated - both thought I should just "go out and ride more". It's easy to say that when you're surrounded by excellent riding and in the company of lots of other mountain biking folks all the time. I suspect I'm just annoying people by being all whiney at them. This is, I admit, pretty much par for the course for me (sorry). But I'm conscious that in a week and a half, I'll be back up where there are interesting things to ride, with people who are easily capable of riding them, and I'll be back to where I was pretty much where I started when I went up last time (i.e., terrified and clueless) due to lack of practice between then and now. By the end of the weekend, I'll hopefully feel a bit more confident again, and be having fun... only to come back home and do lots more Not Riding and lose it all. Again.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Some useful links (maybe) for you:,-3.427734&spn=10.59756,33.00293&z=5

A google map a friend made with all the trail centres on, some will be near stations, so easier to get at?

Some more info here:

Only 8 miles ride from newport train station to CwmCarn, or there might be closer local stations.Newport probably not too long on the train? Cwm carn is a nice 10m mile or so XC loop, you'd really like it I think. Swoopy fun singletrack nothing too hardcore. Fairly short, so I'd recommend doing a lap, coffee & cakes in the cafe, then another lap.

Iain (in case you're wondering who this is)