They say that pride comes before a fall but with me it’s usually confidence…
If there’s a gap in my experience of UK mtbing, it’s the trail centres. Years of exploring just about every nook and cranny imaginable – and a few that aren’t – have given me a pretty comprehensive knowledge of the bridleways, byways and other legal ‘natural’ tracks and trails of England, Scotland and Wales. But I’ve never spent that much time in the man-made centres – a guide, something to put right.
So Friday I shot down to Coed y Brenin to check out the trails I don’t know.
I started on the mbr – seemed appropriate as I’ve worked for the magazine for the last 14 years! And after cruising the Reds with the boys from St. Paul’s a few weeks ago (see previous blog), I was quickly aware of the much more technical nature of this trail.
But there’s a sub-plot here too – just a few weeks ago, I finally managed to get my Ghost up and running on tubeless. And while I’ve ridden it a few times since, and definitely noticed the massive difference in handling with lower pressures, I haven’t had a chance to really push it. Until now…
And it felt great. I was definitely cranking into bends harder – I even bottomed the rear shock on a berm – and I felt like I was floating over wet, slippery roots and rocks. I was loving it. And my confidence crept higher and higher. As, I suspect, did my speed.
And then crunch.
Not even sure what happened but one minute I was bouncing down some rocky steps towards a switchback, and the next I was in a crumpled heap on the equally rocky trail that exited said switchback – some 3 metres lower. And I hadn’t ridden it.
The bike was ok – a small dent and a broken mudguard. But my knee didn’t feel too clever and it took me a good few minutes to recover from the shock of it all and gingerly stand up.
It took my weight – which was really good news. So I limped back up and rode the section again – this time actually getting around the switchback. For me this is always important. And then I carried on around the rest of the trail – knee hurting and confidence shattered.
It’s getting better now – although the swelling was quite incredible. So I’m now thinking of wearing pads next time I try a trail centre. They’ll definitely give me extra confidence as well as protect me if I fall.
On the other hand, what’s likely to follow confidence?
Picture caption: As I didn’t have any shots of the crash – here’s me in better condition, and better weather. But less tubeless… Thanks to Chiz Dakin for the shot.