With the improvement in my riding over the past couple of weeks coupled with my MAGICAL KYLE STRAIT KNEEPADS I decided to have another go at the Monkey. Given that Simply Red and Keane were hogging Birches Valley, we parked up Marquis Drive. Incidentally, Im still not sure how to say Marquis Drive, I tend to say Markee as if it was French, but having been roundly mocked by my brother who threatened to cut out my heathen foreign tongue Ive been told that the proper English pronunciation is actually Markwiss. Say what you see, folks! Unless its tortilla or hyperbole.
Anyhoo, I digress. Started off by heading over to Tackaroo and doing what I normally consider the end section. Flew around grinning until I got to Werewolf Drop, where I stopped, thought about it and then carried the bike down. Didnt want to fall off, that would be awful!
Sections 1/2/6 were closed so I followed the diversion round to 7. Managed everything fine, including Evil Root Number One! Well, I say fine, I got over it then stopped abruptly but at least I got over it and didnt fall into the bank. This, dear reader, is what we call progress!
I managed to get up the fireroad hill up to 8 entirely in the middle ring, which I found strangely surprising normally if its a bit warm I hit granny ring a few metres up and wheeze the entire way. I didnt stop at the top, but carried straight onto 8 stopped at the break as I saw there was a group of lads. They assured me that theyd be slower, so graciously encouraged me to head on before them. No rest for the wicked!
Im definitely getting better at 8, remembering to keep my speed coming out of the corners, especially the ones before the jumps. One day I might actually be able to jump them!
I headed off to the Monkey at the decision point I love the swoopy section at the start. Then it was onto my nemesis, the link descent! I actually managed to ride most of it stopped before the steps, but I honestly think that next time around Ill manage them; theyre nowhere near as bad as I remember. This means that either my memory is playing tricks on me (not unheard of, I remember when section 14 was on the side of a sheer cliff ) or that the Chase Trails chaps have done a bit more work on them (I know they widened them). Managed to take all of the corners with the exception of one of the last left hand turns, but otherwise I was very pleased.
I successfully crossed both the railway crossing and the road without being hit by any large metallic objects and headed onwards. Fluffed the start of the climb and the first switchback, but managed to do the rest of them up to the top.
I experienced a comedy over the bars dismount on the rocks on the exit to the section before Klondike Bridge. It was on the very last rock I think Im not entirely sure what happened, all I know was that I ended up a tangled heap on the fireroad with my bike stuck on top of me. Rather tragically my first thought wasnt about my welfare, or even that of the Professor. No, my first thought was, I hope to god nobody saw that, followed by, Got to get up before anybody sees me. Wiggling free of the Professor, I stood up, checked that everything was in order, and got back on the bike. I was fine, not even a flesh wound. So I took the bike back up to the start of the rocks and did them properly, with less face planting. Went straight onto Klondike Bridge and it was business as usual. Except more awesome!
Theres a few protruding roots on the Monkey not Evil, perhaps not even Malevolent, but possibly Spiteful or Mischievous. Managed them fine, managed the drops, including the weird diagonal one fine Ive definitely gotten better in that department. I even did the first rock descent of the Monkey without incident, although I balked at the second (Too s shaped!) and the third (Its got a sticky outy bit!). After the Klondike incident, I thought it was best that I didnt push my luck.
And so, I carried merrily on my way, happily riding any woodwork, rocks and drops that came my way. I exited the trail, and headed up the fireroad to the next section. The bit of fireroad Im referring to undulates descends steeply then rises steeply, like a giant bombhole.
AHA! I thought. Physics! If I descend with a great amount of speed, then itll slingshot me up the climb, minimising the need to pedal!
I think, dear reader, that its fairly evident that like Emperor Palpatine, my overconfidence was my weakness. Or perhaps my UTTER LACK OF COMMON SENSE. I barrelled it down the hill, and as I hit the sandy gravelly stuff near the bottom I thought, Oh dear, this isnt going to end well followed swiftly by, This could actually be quite serious, shit, Ive got Glentress in two weeks.
I skidded across the ground on my right hand side, bouncing my head off the floor a couple of times in the process, just for good measure. I lay there for a minute or two thinking, Ow, have I broken my leg? Eventually I gingerly sat up, wiggled my fingers and feet, then stood up, pulled the Professor to safety, and sat on the grass slightly dazed, pondering whether I should phone someone. Feeling a bit dizzy and nauseous, I decided that not moving for a while was probably the best bet. Assessing my injuries, I realised Id taken a chunk of skin off my right arm, and had managed to smear blood on my shorts
Two chaps went by, one nearly lost it in the same place as me, but stayed on and got halfway up the next hill. They looked back at me and asked me if I was OK, and by that point I was actually feeling fairly coherent. I explained what happened, and said that I was fine, just a bit dusty.
Still feeling a bit shaken, I walked up the hill, got back on the bike and descended the next bit of fireroad. SLOWLY. Next few sections were a bit of a daze, I remember pushing up some switchbacks because I felt rubbish and thought I might pass out if I tried to climb. Actually, I say some, I seem to recall they went on forever, but it was OK, because there were loads of foxgloves and it was quite trippy and oooh stars!
I actually rode the next few sections fine – bridges, drops and thoroughly enjoyed the descents, which I managed to ride the entirety of without stopping, crashing or fluffing the corners. Stopping briefly at Lower Cliff, I sighed as I realised Id run out of water again. It had been a marvellous day, it was just a shame that I was a bit broken. Crossed the railway again and headed up Kitbag Hill, which was positively murderous. By this point Id overshot the rendezvous time with Mr Toast, so sent him a text message saying that I was going to be late because Id had a little accident, but I was OK.
I arrived back at Marquis Drive to a slightly concerned Toast, who marvelled at my injuries, and swore that I wouldnt ride alone again.
After returning home and having a shower (which hurt ), the full extent of my injuries became clear. The final tally was:
- Patch of skin removed from right arm near the elbow. Two days later its still oozing little yellow blobs. I dont know if this means its infected, or whether this is part of the healing process.
- Bruising around the elbow and upper right arm
- Heavy grazing around the elbow and upper right arm
- Bruised left palm
- Impressive facial graze that looks a bit like a Victorian gentlemans beard
- One dented helmet, requiring a new one
On the plus side, the Professor seems to be relatively unscathed, as do my legs, probably thanks to my MAGICAL KYLE STRAIT KNEEPADS! If only I’d had elbow pads too.
Or common sense.
Ride: Cannock Chase
Trail: Tackaroo and sections 7 and 8 of FtD, the Monkey
Highlights: Being awesome on the singletrack, attempting stuff I’d wimped out on before, almost 100% defeating Evil Root Number One
Bad bits: Failing on fireroad.
Post ride food snaffled: Er, I think I had some crisps.
Good dogs seen: I can’t remember. How tragic is that? Q_Q
Missus Toast – Fine Until Fireroad!