M.I.A (not the singer)

No, I’m not dead!  Apologies for the lack of updates – alas, due to a combination of work and weather I’ve not been biking much, and when I have I haven’t got around to updating this here blog!  I’ve had a few recent adventures though – none of which involved major offs (which is suprising, given my heroics lately!).  Hopefully things will calm down a bit and normal service will be resumed shortly!

Two weeks ago we brought Mr Toast’s sister over the Chase.  Not really being much of a biker meant that she ended up borrowing Cletus, and after a few cursory warnings about how disc brakes are a bit more powerful than v-brakes and instructions on gearing we set off.

As we went around I marvelled at the different responses to mountain biking I’ve seen from non-bikers when we’ve taken them over the Chase.  The Xye Without Fear absolutely loved it, and flew over obstacles with nary a glance.  She’s now planning on getting an Orange 5, incidentally – mission accomplished!  Chris was a bit wary on descents (especially braking bumps), yet was strangely competent on technical stuff (Evil Roots, etc).  Mr Toast’s sister is more of a girl after my own heart – seeing her cautiously edge around the few sections of the red reminded me strongly of when I first started (although I’d say she is probably better than I was when I first started, heh heh).   As she struggled a bit on the red we mainly stuck to the blue, and it again struck me as a crying shame that there isn’t a blue singletrack route (ala Glentress) or skills loop over Cannock Chase – I’ve mentioned before that although FtD is regarded as an ‘easy’ red, it’s still a massive jump up from fireroads for beginners.  Alas, there’s only so much money, manpower and space available… until I win the lottery.

In any case, it was an exceptionally good day for dogs – schnauzers (both miniature and standard), malamutes and huskies.

Yesterday we managed to get over the Chase for a much needed ride, and luckily, for one day only, summer made a brief return.  I always marvel at how quickly FtD dries out, although section 8 was a bit slippy.  I started off riding really smoothly and confidently, although I did chicken out on the last few steps of the Stegosaurus – everything looked a bit wet and slippy, and I had visions of my first ride in two weeks ending rather abruptly.  I was fine until the end of section 8, where I started to feel decidedly ropey.  I suspect that my recent lack of exercise gimped me – whereas earlier in the year I’d been mountain biking both days of the weekend and also biking into work twice a week, I’ve recently been lucky to get out once a weekend and haven’t been able to bike into work because of a) weather (no showers or drying facilities at work) and b) overtime (finish after 8pm, I don’t have any lights).  I think the exercise bike may have to make a return to the living room…


On section 10 (I think) I spotted the Chase Trails chaps building some sort of wooden structure – apparently nutters will jump off it, so the rumour goes.  I would have offered to help, but they were all being rather manly with their sawing, drilling and lump hammering, plus I was always rubbish at woodwork.  Plus I started to feel chronically dizzy mid-conversation, so had to have a bit of a sit down before I passed out.   I once again reflected that perhaps a bowl of cereal and a fairy cake isn’t the best fuel for a ride…

Set off again and carried on my merry way.  Up until section 8 I’d been planning to ride until Tackeroo, ride the entire blue and finish off FtD at the end.  By the time I got to the road crossing I felt pretty awful, so I decided just to stick to FtD.  It went well, until the start of the section with Werewolf Drop – that’s when I decided to throw up in a bush.  Classy.  Carried on, pleased myself by actually getting around the turns leading to Werewolf Drop, didn’t ride it as there was the usual congregation of people carrying their bikes down.  There was a family there with two lads who managed to get down – their technique was to teter precariously over the edge, get the front wheel over the top rock, then roll down.  I thought it was going to end in disaster, but they both made it and were eagerly scouting out a route back up so that they could try again.  Ah, youth!  I had more sympathy with the chap who carried his bike down muttering, “I’m too old for broken bones!”

In other news, The Monkey Trail got a nice write up in MBR this month, with frenzied acclamations about its awesomeness.  It’s nice to see the Chase Trails crew getting some well-deserved praise from further afield – although MBR did single out the climb after the rail crossing as a reason to return time and time again.  Barmy!

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