Saturday, 14 July 2012

Swanage Trip - MTB: THE 'alternative' to climbing

As alternative to climbing Lee and I took our mountain bikes and headed South, on Saturday. It didn't take us long to hit an onslaught of rain. Although neither of us have any issues with a bit of rain, this felt like the heavens had opened so we decided to stop in Salisbury for coffee and await the arrival of Noah while watching a real-life version of The Jeremy Kyle Show.

We optimistically chose a 37km bike route in Blandford Forest using  "The Good Mountain Biking Guide".  We also chose a backup option (indoor climbing), which we assumed the others already at Swanage must be doing by now!

After the rains had stopped and the rivers had parted we headed to Blandford Forest and mounted our bikes. It didn’t take too long (1/2km) till we unexpectedly arrived at the UK Bike Park (within Eastcott Wood), a downhill course which we couldn't resist. We quick chat to some local riders others who gave heed of the walk up….. and decided to proceeded regardless.

Initially the course consisted of berms, but it soon changed drastically as we hair'ed down a steep course with banked curves. The local advice was severely understated. It took us over 20mins to push our bikes up the steep gradient to get back to the far the most exhausting activity l did all weekend (and for a long time too!).  But it did not put us off doing the course it again, however this time we took a sustained 4x4 route back up the hill, which was 'almost' cycle-able!  We did a few more runs, each the time hoping that we didn’t encounter and walkers or horses as we hurtled down the hill, and each time complaining as we hauled our arses back up the hill!

Having had a good 'warm up', our competitive side got the better of us and we decided to ‘race’ the next run! All was going swimmingly (also read fast) until a shallow water drainage channel crossed the path which neither Lee or I saw in time. My bike gave an awful whacking noise, which l assumed was my front chain ring protector 'giving way'..which had already lost a 'section' from a previous ride).  However, something didn't feel quite right, and was made worse when I caught the end of a tree trunk 20 meters later!

At the end of the run we compared notes.  Lee had also hit the drainage channel, but managed to stay on his bike.   A quick inspection of the bikes and we were off.....well we would have been had Lee not discovered the hitting the drain had buckled the back wheel on his fairly new bike.  We both looked in awe neither had ever experienced the rim being deformed as if someone had too a hammer directly to it!..... then Lee noticed that the same had happened to his front wheel, too. How they had both hit the ditch we had no idea. Clearly an expensive day was ahead of him at his local bike shop!

Setting off down the road l immediately noticed my bike was not 'right' either; my rear wheel had suffered exactly the same punishment as Lee’s. Crikey 3 out of 4 wheels screwed.

This curtailed our ambitions somewhat, especially as l my rear wheel was so badly buckled that l had to detach my rear brake to allow it to spin freely! We spent the next hour or so leisurely exploring the forest tracks. It was only then that l realised the extent of the damage to my bike, l had somehow managed to damage my front forks to an extend that my they were now rigid and no longer 

What a day, hey, never before have l experienced so much damage on a ride, and considering the lack of technicality, lack of impact and lack of exposure it was certainly very memorable but all for all the wrong reasons!