Monday, 13 December 2010

Places You Think You Know

I often have a feeling of confusion when I read other blogs and how people are travelling several hundred miles by car for a few hours of riding, to travel back again at the end of the day.  I’m blessed to live in an area that is perfect for biking, it’s not mountainous but there are hills steep enough to test the strongest of legs, as for trails, it has well established old favourites and a thriving trail building culture that sees new sections springing up on an almost continual basis.

Unfortunately, I very rarely have full days available to go off and explore for new stuff, instead, I can easily slip into a rut of riding the same trails, in the same order, week in, week out.  That’s ok, I love the trails I ride, but it means that my riding can stagnate if I’m not careful, the ability to read the trail ahead, pick the line of least resistance, move the bike and flow through the trail  becomes dull through lack of use.  This is easily rectified of course, I can ride with different groups, the beauty of the Forest is that everyone has a different ‘patch’ they have laid claim to, sure, others may ride some of my favourites, but they go by different names and are approached from different directions.

The first of my now weekly Wednesday night rides had me riding up a trail I’ve always ridden down.  I followed, quietly muttering about a good descent ruined, but my new riding buddies were exonerated some 15 minutes later, as they led me through swooping trails I’ve never touched, heading towards a trail known as Dowies (or doughies, or any other way you want to spell it – trail names are unwritten aren’t they?), I was left laughing as I attacked a path that had a profile similar one of those bumpy slides you find in any good playground.  That ride stayed with me for several days afterwards, I had the rush of adrenalin that I smile quietly at each time I lead someone new to my area down a
favourite trail.

I’ve gone out and looked for new trails, often these are done with the family in tow and form a ‘walk’ that warrants rolled eyes from my wife, she knows the true motivation of these forays into unknown areas of the forest and I do little to hide my enthusiasm when I spy a likely trail heading off from the path we’re walking.  These potentials are then filed in mind ready for an opportunity to ride them.
Recently, I rode a block of the forest I’ve not stepped foot in for the best part of a decade, I was a foreigner in a strange land, I searched for several hours, failing to find anything that would deserve a return trip, a saunter down one dead end though left me breathless as I came across this view..    I stood in quiet admiration for several minutes, barely believing that I was only two miles from my house – how did I not know this view was there?.

I guess it’s a well known truth that you never really appreciate what you have around you and that any motivated tourist will probably see more of an area in a week that a local will in a year, sometimes though, it’s good to go out and look at your everyday surroundings through a strangers eyes.