Well OK, it was a few days ago, but I’ve still got a few more days off, so it’s time for an update!
I actually went biking for the first time in two months a couple of weeks ago. As Mr Toast had been biking the previous time, it was my turn to ride merrily around whilst he walked young master Benny. Before setting off, I got The Fear – the raging paranoia that I’d lost what little skill I had and end up sliding around on my face. I get this pretty much every time I’ve had more than a couple of weeks of biking. And, as usual… I was fine. Better than fine. Although my fitness has taken a hit (with the fireroad hill up to section 8 being particualrly brutal), technique-wise I was pretty much as good as I’ve ever been. It was a bit soggy and muddy, but although I found the boggier sections a bit of a slog, I seem to actually ride faster when it’s a bit wetter. It seems to a bit gripper than when it’s very dry and dust, and I feel more comfortable going faster.
I did everything I normally do, and more! Including *trumpet fanfare* the uphill steps on section 11. Not the first steps, the tiny ones. No, I minced over them because it looked a bit slidey. But by the time I got to the proper steps (which I avoided last time), I just thought, “Ah, fuck it”, and ploughed into them. And I sailed over them with grace and style. Well, I went over them, without stopping, and I never felt like I was about to come off or even slip slightly, so… yeah, grace and style.
Thoroughly enjoyed the ride, overtook quite a few people (admittedly it was just because I was taking less breaks between sections than them rather than going faster on the trail itself), and pulled into Birches Valley with a huge smile on my face. Mr Toast looked slightly exasperated with Benny pulling at every passing dog, person and bird – after an afternoon of dog-sitting on the Chase, he looked more exhausted than I did!
So… Benny. We’ve had him for over a month now, and he’s beyond adorable. It’s not 100% smooth sailing – he’s very well behaved in the house (although a bit rude and pushy if people are eating), and we’ve started training him. He will sit when told, generally will leave food if asked to, then eat it on command, and he’s on his way to learning ‘stay’ (it’s still a bit hit or miss at the moment). But by Odin’s Raven, you should see him outside! Everything else is infinitely more interesting than his owners – crows, dogs, other people (especially if they have bags). We’ve only been able to let him off his lead at Cayton Bay, as it’s completely enclosed, and he ran like a mentalist for miles and miles. He certainly has the stamina and physique for being a trail pooch, but yeah… the training is still very much a work in progress!
So, now… good dog photos!
In other news, there’s a Big Build Day over at Cannock Chase on January 8th. As usual, there’s a raffle and food, drinks and tools provided, and it will involve resurfacing the end of Tackaroo, so you’re only a stone’s throw away from Birches Valley! Lots of people have been interested in what’s going on over Tackaroo, so if you’re one of them, now’s your chance to find out! If you’re not, then go and help out anyway. You might see Benny, and be able to bask in his glory. Not a euphemism.