XC heaven - end of The Blue Run

I have spent the last few years almost exclusively riding on the road. And I have loved it. High points have been some trips to the Alps, the Tuesday Thrash and getting stronger, low points have been the 4th cat racing. I’d written off mountain biking vowing never to ride in mud again. I don’t know why; boredom possibly.  I did start riding these trails in ‘84, that’s a long time on the same tracks.

When the shop opened Whyte (and Marin) were going through a metamorphosis and we were lucky enough to be a part of that. Every month or so there would be a new prototype to test and, of course, we had lots of demo bikes and someone had to clean them. I’d usually ride the dirty one. I was riding something different all the time and that was really motivating.

Then 29ers came along and that was that. It was what I had always yearned for: a fast, light and comfortable hard tail. In a stroke I stopped riding the demos, by then Whyte had got it sorted and Marin was on its way out. So whilst the 29er was my perfect bike I started to get bored with only the thought of riding the South Downs Way quickly to motivate me. I think that my bikes didn’t inspire me enough.

Then something happened. You will all appreciate this but it was not something that had had the pleasure of doing for over ten years. I bought a bike! I know that I have a shop but this was different. I thought about it a lot. I demoed, changed my size and carefully selected the spec, I even bought fork decals to match the frame. I got really excited and got myself an awesome machine. It is light, incredibly comfortable and it has made a huge difference to my confidence. It’s the perfect bike for me, you may want other features but the Scott Scale 900 SL is just right even if a little too heavy at just over 21lbs. (21lbs 3oz / 9.62kgs)

So, since a ride at the beginning of November in conditions that even Noah would have been amazed I have been riding the local trails. I have even done some races with a degree of success. I am a mountain biker again. I jump stuff that I never used to. And yesterday, I found some of the old trails that I used to ride over 20 years ago. When I started mountain biking it was a substitute for skiing and windsurfing so the name of the game was to find the steepest slopes possible that we would drop in like a wave rider or couloir skier.

The challenge of cleaning a section smoothly and without wiping out is as motivating a force as is trying to beat my nemesis in the races. I am rejuvenated and totally motivated. The goal for the year is still to do a killer time for the South Downs Way but on the way there I’ll be trying to ride as fast as I possibly can on any technical bit of trail, up or down and wherever.

Oh and what about the mud? I don’t care. I have got cleaning the bike down to an art with just two buckets (there’s no way that I am going to wreck my beautiful Scott with a hose). It gets a present next week: a set of Syncros carbon wheels and the new XTR Freeza Icetech rotors. I can’t wait!

So, the moral is, if you lack motivation, buy yourself something special. It might be a cross bike next!

Here’s the ride, trail conditions were remarkable considering the warming temperature. We were back by 10 am. (Remember: NEVER RIDE ON MELTED TRAILS!)

XC Paradise

XC steep, might not look it