Sunday, December 07, 2008

CYCLING: Tinkering and tyrants continued

We've brought a bike stand.
To save money and be more self contained during future trips three of us decided it's time, at the tender age of thirtysomething, to get some bike knowledge. We all chipped in.

I drank wine and got in Neil's light as he tinkered on Friday evening.
He fixed his gears and breaks and I can't say I know why.

I ate Chinese food and drank port as he used his new knowledge and a few You Tube how to videos to adjust my gears too. They're smooth as a James Bond pick up line now. It's a mystery.

I learned that as long as Neil comes on future trips I will be fine.



New to us sections of Friston forest opened out in front of Dan and I, each promising adventure and challenges unknown.

Once you're fit enough this is the unique freedom to mountain bike cyclist.
The day's destiny is unhindered by logic or habit or hill. If you reach a dead end you turn around. If you don't, you keep going, wide-eyed - riding at your limit.

The next path could bring jumps, glorious tree-weaving single track, frightening downhill or wide open leafy paths where speed has no master. Or it could be a boggy disaster like the one we took.

Ten painful minutes later I was pulling a gloopy mixture of mud and leaves from between the back wheel and frame. It had glued the wheel fast. My feet were in deep puddles.

Friston was in no mood for the fun we had planned it seemed.

I caught Dan up and we left her behind, headed across the angry road into a field towards the Cuckmere cleaning our tyres on reliable medow grass.
We have a right to roam, Dan said.
Fence. Barbed Wire. Another field. Another fence. Bugger this. Back across the road to our mistress.
She was more welcoming this time, and as the path dropped towards Exceat our wheels picked up speed enough to fan leafs in their hundreds into a rusty confetti.
We yelped.
We whooped.
There was no danger - no need for concentration. It's at times like this that you must make the sounds of gleeful boyhood. It's part of the reason you're here. So we did.

Forest drained we weaved further along into a fabulous path, more narrow and dusted with inviting obstacles which we hopped over or zipped around. The bare trees seemed to step aside graciously. Our hosts also welcomed in all the afternoon's half-light to see us happily through their home.
We caught our breath and thanked them with smiles.

Soon we were in the valley, splashing through more puddles. West Dean offered us the admiration of a small boy and an aggressive hill, but soon we bumped out onto the Road to Littlington where a pacey ale in the Pub's garden spurred us up and over the rut of the Downs and into Wilmington for our meeting with the Clobbys.

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