Today I went back to basics. After a few months of not really riding very much, due to too many bouts of winter-related illnesses, hideous weather and just being too darn busy, I felt I had lost my riding vavavoom and was questioning if I could really be bothered to go and find it again. Not a good place to be in!
So today’s no-fuss, no long drive, no busy trail centre ride was exactly what I needed. The original plan had been to head to Afan, but one look at the weather forecast put paid to that! Heavy rain? Whilst still not feeling quite right? No thanks! So we stayed closer to home, making the far, far shorter journey to the Mendip Hills – our local.
It’s been kinda wet around here lately, so we knew the off-piste stuff would be a bit of a boggy mess and decided to keep it simple, sticking to the bridleways and enjoying the views. What we got was a ride that ticked all the boxes: fun singletrack – check, friendly locals – check, no killer ascents – check. And mud – check, check, check! So much mud! And we brew a certain type of mud in the Mendips that is like no other. It makes the most amazing squelching sound as your wheel passes through it and I found myself grinning whenever I heard it!
The mud was a reminder as well that, here in the UK, winter riding really is a different sport to summer riding. What might seem like a simple descent in the summer, suddenly turns somewhat more complicated in the winter, as you can never be too sure that the back wheel is going to go the same way as the front wheel is. I loved being reminded of how to let the bike do what it needed to do, sliding along in the slimiest, boggiest sections today. I smiled from ear to ear, as my back wheel came round to say hi to the the one at the front.
Yes, there were a couple of slips I wouldn’t have made had the trails been dry and hardpacked, but we get to ride those trails at other times of the year. These winter trails are another kind of fun, and a kind that I’m looking forward to riding for the next few months. They’re a whole new challenge. And the challenge is what I love about mountain biking.
So the lesson here? If you’re stuck in a rut, feeling like you just can’t be bothered, when the sky is grey and the air cold, don’t just sit there on your bum feeling sorry for yourself. Get out on your bike and remind yourself what it is that you love the most about riding. Get back to basics. You’ll be please that you did.