Army barracks and the sound of gun fire. No red flags, it should be OK. My first ever race. Why would I start racing at my age. Idiot. Please let the rain stop. The terrain and smell of damp pine takes me back. I revert to a 13 year old kid on a BMX hacking around like a loon. This means I go off too fast. I regret this. Idiot. I feel sick. Tyres squirmimg beneath me. An intense, deep brown line weaving through the bright rain intensified spring green. Checking the other side of the bomb hole before I drop in as I’m going to be jettisoned out the other side before I can think of my exit point. Staying high on that off camber bit so if the tyres slip there’s somewhere to end up other than falling down the bank. A momentary lapse in concentration and finding myself lying on a soft bed of pine needles. Realising that bridge is there because the line through the ditch isn’t really a line. Getting that corner wrong every lap. Smoothly flowing through that other bit on every lap and it feeling awesome (totally rad like, dude). Not taking line B and jumping that log but bottling that vertiginous drop to the canal bank. Pulling over to the left to let the Pivot-Boompods through as they chat amongst themselves like it’s a Sunday social. Finding line C, or maybe D, on that bit of lap 3 where I just want to climb off and go home. Clipping my foot on that sodding branch every bloody lap. Every part of my being screaming at me to stop except that tiny bit of my brain that tells me “You’re not giving up”. Spending the next half lap praying that my chain snaps as I know I don’t have a chain tool with me. Using the emergency gel at half distance. Keep forgetting about this tedious section. Why is there a root just there. I hate this. A cheery hello from Rory when all is black and murky in my head. As I come out of the woods at the end of the lap I wish I could just ride across the field, freewheel down the Old Bisley Road home for beans on toast, but Mum and Dad don’t live there any more. Sun comes out. Roll the arm warmers down. More cake. Maybe I can do another lap. That first bit gets mushier and slippier every lap. Ride that vertiginous drop to the canal bank. Love the way you get flung out the other side of that bomb hole. Not liking having to grovel the last few feet up that bank every time. Throw the last of the Jelly Babies down my neck. Maybe I can do another lap. Instantly realising this is a shocking line and knowing the only way out of it is going to hurt. Hitting my hip on a root and cramp spasms through my leg. Can’t move. Want to cry. Why the fuck didn’t I bail at the end of lap 4. Idiot. Finally not dabbing the front brake into that swoopy bit where no braking is needed. It’s only taken five goes. An eternity later I cross the line. That was horrible. That was brilliant! When’s the next one?*
Photo by Nick from RPM90. Thanks to Nick for hanging around after he had a mechanical on the second lap. Also thanks for that amazing chicken salad.
*the next one is 24 hour Mountain Mayhem. Solo. Idiot.