OK, going to be a bit of a mammoth update, this one – got two weeks of babbling to catch up on!
Right, so Id booked off the 9th November as holiday. Id not done any biking the previous weekend, as I was trying to rest up and get rid of my cold (which was an epic fail plan, still feeling rough now!). But I felt a bit stir crazy, so after dropping off Mr Toast at work, I headed to the Chase, Professor in tow.
It was interesting for several reasons. Firstly, Im fairly certain this is the first time Ive been to the FtD on a weekday. Secondly well, normally on a weekend Im not out of bed by 10am, never mind on my bike. It didnt get off to the most auspicious start somehow during the journey Id managed to get my iPod headphones threaded through the base rail of my car seat. No idea how that came to pass, yet even though it had got mysteriously – and firmly stuck, it couldnt be freed. Tried threading it back both ways, but it was lodged solid. Eventually I lost my temper, started tugging at it and pulled the earbud clean off the wire. No Slayer for me on the trails
First lap was fantastic. The sky was a beautiful clear blue, with sunbeams shining onto the trail through the trees chilly, but sunny and still. The trail was still very wet and slippy, and Im still very, very cautious when faced with such conditions. Despite going quite OK, very slowly, I managed just over an hour by only stopping for five minutes. Some of the trail was quite churned up on the later sections, with section 15 being particularly muddy. Still, as I’ve said before, if you’re adverse to a bit of mud you should probably find another sport!
Went to the cafe, had some cake and a cup of tea, then got back on the bike. Pootled around the greens for a bit, then hit FtD for my second lap. The cunning plan was to ride FtD up until 13, do the full green loop, return to 13, and finish off the Dog. It would be quite an epic day of riding for me, as I’ve not done that since the summer – normally because by the time we arrive at Cannock Chase in the winter we only have a few hours of daylight left!
Alas, the cunning plan didn’t quite work out. Rode section 2 quite fast, and before I knew it, I was on the rocky exit. Ah. I think we all know where this is going…
There were numerous thoughts that hit me at the same time. “Ooh, I’m here already”, “Ah, I’m approaching this at a slightly tight angle”, and “I haven’t got my weight back enough”. Unfortunately, my reflex “BRAKE!” reaction kicked in, and I stopped dead with the front wheel down and the back wheel still on the top step. Went to put my right foot down, couldn’t reach, got monstrous cramp in my calf, and toppled right.
It was quite impressive, really. Somehow, I managed to smash my ribs on the wooden fence and ended up hanging over it like washing put out to dry, and my legs still entangled in my bike. A bit like an upturned beetle, but with wheels. I managed to disentangle myself and set myself upright. There was no-one around, and I think it’s a testament to my vanity that instead of thinking, “Oooh, that could have been nasty if I’d hurt myself proper, there’s no-one around!”, I thought, “Thank god, I don’t think anyone saw that…”
I pondered trying to carry on, but I was worried that I’d get halfway over Sherbrook Valley and the adrenaline of having a tumble would wear off and I’d realise I was actually a bit battered. Sat around for a bit, and realised that breathing was actually a bit painful, coughing even more so. Decided to give it up as a bad job, and went home sulking. I try and remember how much fun the first lap was, but my ribs still sting a bit even now!
On the 15th it was the last Big Build Day of the year, and despite the dire warnings of heavy showers, the weather was fairly reasonable. There was a good turnout of people, letting us build a good chunk of track. Toast and I turned up fashionably late, and had to locate the trail builders by ear – listening out for stomping, shovelling and sawing! Dale and Sharon provided the food again, with delicious chilli and cheese jacket potatoes.
Progress was so good that we managed to finish off the bit of the trail that had been scheduled for the day, and move onto the next! Hopefully Phase II will be on schedule for its Easter opening, but it will need people to make it happen – next Big Build Day is on January 4th (I think), and obviously there’s the standard build days every Sunday.