Does this little lot sound familiar? No ride is without its pitfalls but here’s our guide to a what seemingly every MTB ride out on the trails entails.
1. The build up
Today work, tomorrow the world! Emails and texts fly through the ether all week with big ideas for riding somewhere different: the next hill over, a day at Afan or a long weekend in Scotland. As Friday approaches, money, family matters and general organising apathy mean the usual car park beckons.
2. The day arrives
The big day. Up early, you rushed breakfast and drove with gay abandon. Everything’s ready, your bike’s set up and your body poised. Now you just have to wait an hour or so in the car park for that last straggler of a so-called friend to turn up.
You know they’ll have plausible excuse — “bad traffic, car broke down, dog caught fire” — but really they just couldn’t get out of bed.
3. Too fast, too furious
After all that waiting, when you finally set off it’s inevitably too hard and after a minute you’re breathing through your ears. Pride keeps you going. At the top it’s time to pretend you’re barely out of breath, snatching gulps of oxygen as you try to chat. It’s soon spoilt as a coughing fit catches you by surprise and energy drink squirts from your nose.
4. The second wait
It takes a while to recover (except for the friend who’s ‘in training’), and by the time you do, an interesting conversation has sprung up about the latest bikes, your awful boss or next season’s must-have shoes. Twenty minutes have passed before anyone notices this is neither the time nor the place for chit-chat; the rightful place for that is in the pub. Or A&E.
5. The first stoke
What we’ve been waiting for. Nervous excitement is left behind at the first corner of the first descent of the day, and you remember that this is why you ride: for the sensation of grip, g-force and guts, and the feeling of being at the limits of control. Bliss. At the bottom you tell everyone what the trail was like; the fact that they rode it at the same time is irrelevant.
6. Spanner in the works
After messing about at the bottom of the descent and swapping stories it’s only when you set off again that a mechanical is found. By the Laws of Faffing, the more people on your ride the more time it’ll take to fix: one mate and you’ll be rolling in minutes; a group of 20 and night will fall before you’ve re-seated that tyre.
If it’s really problematic then the ‘expert’ mechanics will tell you they usually carry that spare part… but they left it in their other pack.
7. Man down
Rolling again, and your group will invariably have lost at least one member. They either got bored at the mechanical, got lost on the climb back up or pre-chickened out on the big scary jump/drop/chute coming up.
Either way you’re sure they’ll be fine and carry on regardless. Now you’re at the jump-drop-chute it’s time to roll out your excuses —“I’m on the wrong bike and tyres”, “I’m too hung-over” or “I’ve got a sore earlobe” all work well. “Next time,” we tell ourselves, before rolling back to the car park for cake, beer or both.