Monday, 8 April 2013


So said Eddie Murphey in The Nutty Professor to aide his weight loss and beat his slim evil self.
It also sprung to mind for me over a small piece of trail that I've recently had issues with.
I was out with Jamer for a Saturday afternoon ride, we've both got cameras to capture our riding and a few hours saw us get enough footage for this;

And that bit right at the end is what originally brought good ol' Eddie's mantra to mind.
The trail in question is called the Serpent, a snaking singletrack that drops from the highest point of Penyard hill (visible from our bedroom window) 260 vertical feet lost over the space of 1/3mile.  Quick, jumpy and rewarding it's a favourite already amongst many of my mates.

The sting in it's tail is a drop, vertical at the top and exposed to the right, the run in is blind and the first thing noticeable is that exposure, quickly followed by large uncovered rocks on the left.  The drop turns immediately down the trail into nothing leaving no room for error.  It has already been blackballed by Strava so no leaderboard is possible, I've said it before, I ride with some fantastic riders, the fact that we all know who and who hasn't, done that final section speaks volumes over the toughness of it.

Whilst Jamer effortlessly floats down it in the video, that was his second attempt, during his first he buzzed his back wheel with his gentleman sausage and padded the rocks with his foot.  Returning to where we were starting our run in, he was visibily shaking.  Even after getting down it with certain style he was adamant that he had no intention of doing it again.

Each time I've ridden Serpent to date the trail has been soaking wet, as such, everyone has pulled up short and taken the 'chicken run' although this is steep and if anything even more exposed than what we're trying to avoid, it's really only doable on foot.
That's bugged me, much as I love Serpent I'm never able to ride competely in the moment due to the growing feeling of unease in the pit of my stomach, previously assuming I'm nesh I've kept quiet, but the crash appears to have loosened tongues and this feeling of "oh hell, that drop is coming up" is more common than I thought.

With the camera running I ran in twice, each time my hands pulling on the brakes without any instruction from my brain.  Getting frustrated with myself I set up a third run, this time carrying too much speed, the results are there for all to see.  Smiling as I might be when I sit up, I was deeply frustrated.  I hauled my bike back up to the start and had another go.
This time my brain gave the STOP signal loud and clear.  I had to admit it that I had beaten myself.
We carried on the ride, I was annoyed, the gnawing anger wouldn't leave, getting home I shared the results of the ride with Kate, editing the clips together only heightened my annoyance.  Lying in bed that night I was replaying that 30ft of trail over and over.

By Sunday evening Kate was asking Jamer to get me back up the woods and not let me leave until I had sorted it.

My next opportunity was Wednesday, I was as nervous as a teenager on a first date.  At the start of the trail I was "Yes I can"ing myself to death, I had visualised the run in, the feeling of the bike, how it would feel to be down.  It didn't start well and I had a 'moment' on the largest of the jumps in the middle section, scrubbing it from memory I get back onto Jamers rear wheel, down the first drop without incident, palms sweaty and mouth dry I approach the run in, sharp left, down to the blind lip and bum back, perfectly aligned I holler my victory, down the final chute, two drops and I'm on the fire road, fist pumping.

I can't wait to try again...