It is true that some things you miss most acutely when they are gone. Love, health, friends, water and of course fitness and traction.
Today I went for a ride. Woo hoo. Don't laugh. I *know* this is a bike blog, and I also know it has precious little riding in it at the moment. So, today's ride was pretty special given it was the first time I have touched a bike in 4 weeks +. Especially when I am attending the Strathpuffer next week. A 24 hour race in the far north of Scotland, with 17 hours of darkness is nowhere near the best place to do a 'first ride for a while'. This is true in terms of both form and bicycle function.
So a sort of physical and kit shakedown today. Went to Ae forest in southern Scotland. From the weather at www.meto.gov.uk, it looked like the place least likely to get enveloped in the not-so-loving embrace of the weather front heralding the more 'mild' (i.e. 'wet') weather.
I was right about that.
I also suspected my form would be in bits. Yup, also.
Kit, well, after nearly a year on the same set up I wasn't expecting any major hookups. True. Brake pads are my only mental note, and to take a spare chainring (time to break out the very pretty Boone ti ring?) to the race.
The riding: I haven't ridden at Ae for more years than I care and/or could remember. The trails have been transformed in that '7 Stanes' way (this time def-o for the best) and it is more of the man-made stuff for the most part. Nice red earth, pretty grippy. Good technical sections, not yet ripped up by the disc brake, 4 inch brigade. Also a fair share of fire road, dank wooded trails and fun steeps with big rocks.
Oh, and ice. This is where the traction left me. Picture me confidently rolling at moderate speed down a 30 degree trail, towards a 2 m wide bridge across a river in pretty good spate. Then picture the smattering of ice. Imagine the way flame paint jobs can be used to fade one colour into the next on all manner of muscle-vehicles. See the ice sheets widen, gently licking at my tyres. Then picture me deciding that although the smart move is to not use the brakes, the river and the bridge, coupled with the consequences of increased speed on crashing, led to the inevitable.
Bang, shin/pedal interaction. Rock, fork scrape and a big smile. Well, I didn't go a- over-t.
Overall, nice to be out. Very muddy, long drive for 2 hours riding, form abysmal. Trails pretty good. Pretty stoked feeling. Och, well. In balance, worth it.