Welcome fellow Mountain Biker to a Bristol and South West based blog containing local routes, rides and reviews. Brought to you by locals to the area with additional publishings from further afoot. Hope you enjoy.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Eye's bigger than the drop

Hello. As you may notice from my last couple of posts, I am stepping up my riding slightly. Mostly by trying some drops and jumps. I'm a firm believer in learning to crawl before you can walk, so my natural reaction to trying drops and jumps is to start off small. Well I did and then I got a little to over my head. Or not. You see a couple of weeks back I went up to the Mendip's and found a DH track in the forest which sported a couple of jumps and drops which I chickened out on. After being confident about that little berm drop in Leigh Woods I was anxious to get back up there and give them a go. So I went back on Bank Holiday monday and tried my best. A little worried but that's part of the fun isn't it. There's a few jump/drops around the upper section of the course that I thought I'd warm up on which were good fun. Being confident in myself (cos it helps) I blasted down to the drops at the bottom. The first is a little technical with a slight flat gap which when cleared chucks a loose berm straight at you. Not quite ready for that yet. A little further down where they have cleared all of the tree's is another. This is a group of logs with compacted mud on top which have been built up on a slope creating a drop of just over an estimated 2ft (accurate reading coming soon). With the berm's in the bag and the approach speed sorted I went for it and to my suprise landed smooth and carried on.

After resting at the bottom and being delighted with completing what one week ago I was scared of I climbed back to the top, taking some other rider's which I met along the accent with me, to show them the route. The ride down was fine, missing the drop with the gap again but riding over the last drop and landing sucessfully again. The guys were impressed iwth the trail as much as I was when I first came to ride it. Then followed the usual bike chitchat. Upon looking at this guy Larry's Specialized I noticed that there was some play in the headest and somewhere in the rear. I tried to sort out the headset and made it have less play but he had the wrong combo of spacers to make it work properly. On inspecting the rear, which I thought would be the normal rear wheel, it was actually the rear suspension linkage which was loose. It was a diferent design linkage to mine but had the same size bolt to tighten to secure the shock into the spacers. So I got out my allen key and turned it carefully ever so slightly and snap. Broke it. And broke the news to Larry and his mate's. Whopps. Felt bit silly. But in all honesty and he agreed (with no hard feelings and total relief that it hadn't snapped whilst riding it), that one, it shouldn't have been loose. Two, that because it was it had done some damage to the bolt which caused it to snap when I tightened it. Gave them all an excuse to go to the pub early apparently. So off they went. Larry on foot. Sorry Larry.
Right on, with the show. NEXT. There is another drop on another DH trail which I was scared silly of so let's go have a look I thought. The drop itself is located between two tree's and again is made of logs and mud. This one has a run in which must be done corectly to achieve a sucessfull drop. I didn't bother to do the whole run just the part up to the drop. So you start by coming out of a berm along a lenght of flat and right into a raised berm section then left out of the berm and down to the drop's lip. Make a wish and hope it comes true.

Made an approach twice and chickened out slightly and found myself walking back up to do it again, asking myself "why are you walking back up, your going to try again aren't you". But the other part of my is in deep concentration. I head off. Along the flat, fine. Up into the berm, steady and good speed (think "don't forget to keep your weight back"). Down to the lip, good line and focused. Shit I'm doing it. Wait I'm on the front wheel, lean back. I MADE IT, just, good old forks. Right lets do it again "are you crazy" a voice tell's me. "sssssshhhhhhhhhh". Flat good. Berm good. Focused. Over the lip. Perfect landing. KISS MY FACE. I made it. Sat down in glee and disbelief had a fag and went home.

Fastforward to wednesday and Mr Ben Wood is visiting Bristol so I booked a day off to show him some of the local trails. With only an afternoon to do this after some bike prep. and slow starting I thought a warm up on the Mendips would be nice. We did the first DH trail and once again I managed the bottom drop. It was drizzling a little and the ground was moist, but not to slippery. So next I thought I'd take him over and show him the drop that I managed two days earlier. Upon seeing it again and for my lust of doing drops and because my bike feet fantastic going over them it was time again to do the drop. Ben would stay near the drop and watch. I went to get a good run up. Syked myself up a bit and headed off. Slightly misty goggled. Flat, good speed and fine. Raised section and corner, ok. I can see the lip. All feels fine if a little slow but, off we go then. What happened next was just a blur. A painful blur. As I had forgotton one mental thought. "KEEP YOUR WEIGHT BACK". Ben says that the nose of the bike dipped and the bike dug itself with the handlebar into the ground. I was thrown off of it and rolled down the slope after landing on my left hand side. Smashing the helmet cam mount off of my full facer and my back into a pile of dead logs and wood. I can remember pain and rolling down the hill and more pain and then uncertain pain. As I thought I had fractured or worse, broken my left arm. Next uncomfortableness as I was told to stay still and lye down by Ben. However I wanted to move off of the now broken clump of dead logs. After a few minutes of getting the image straight and going through the dizzy stage I was able to walk. BALLS. I thought as this was only ment to be a warm up for the day. And YOU FOOL for doing it straight away and not remembering to tell yourself to lean back. Oh well. Not to phased by the whole thing and I will master it again some time soon. As for the rest of the day. Ben and I went back to the car, I managed to ride back on my sore arm. But no more riding for the day. Should have filmed it. So it's time out for now as my arm heals (stops hurting), but I'm itching to go back. Cheers for being there Ben and your advice is duely noted. Next time I promise to show you more and not fall off unless you are indeed cursed (see posting in achives Thwack Bash).

Can't stress this enough. Wear body armour (shin and knee, elbow and forearm and most of all a helmet, especially full-face) if you are going to try anything like this. Better to be safe than sorry. Glad I did.


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