Wednesday 9 June 2010

The Quickie

Friday, 1525. My laptop has crashed, it's been dry and warm all week and something outside is calling me.

Shut down the laptop in the most violent way, throw it in the drawer and skip outside to the bike rack. Spend the five minute ride home thinking, weighing options... Singlespeed? No, winter bike. Full-sus? Still a bit creaky. Road bike....? But the trails might be dusty. Dusty is rare round here, something to be embraced. Scandal then, 10kgs of race hardtail.

Into the garage, park the commuter bike, take the bling wheels off the full-sus and drop the Scandal onto them. Out the garage, dash upstairs and throw on baggies, Seventeen11 team bike jersey and silly socks. Grab a bottle of water, a Torq bar, multitool, tube and CO2 inflator. Oakleys, Giro E2, shoes, gloves.

And I'm out. Christ, this bike feels fast. Pump over the speed humps, drop the outside heel round the tight corner on the dodgy estate, carve the bike path by the park.

Pause. A4, Friday traffic. See a gap and I'm across and cutting through the pub car park and hopping the kerb and whipping onto the towpath. Race everyone else, though I'm the only one racing. Over the wooden bridge, tight switchback corners onto more tarmac. Past the racecourse, up the hill, leave those 8 year olds pushing their BMXs for dust... and I'm onto Greenham Common.

Dirt, dust, roots, singletrack. I'm riding like the first lap of an XC race, looking for all the speed I can, focusing on body position, wrists and heels, looking far far ahead. Ignore the trees and trust the tyres. Down the steep drop, over the two sleepers that constitute a bridge, up the short steep climb. Two other cyclists at the top, pausing for breath. I say hi but don't slow down.

The pickle factory is strong this afternoon... mmm... limey...

Rider approaching from the front on a silver bike and hang on is that Kev but he's got a helmet on which he doesn't normally and as we pass each other I turn and he turns and we shout hello and don't let up the pace as this is waaay too much fun to slow down.

Singletrack complete. It's now gravel, byways and towpath. Power takes over from skill as I push the intensity and my heart rate reaches those places where it doesn't often go. With other riders on the path it's like a 24 hour race, as I slow, freewheel and politely ask to come past when convenient. Then sprint like a bastard away from them.

Back on the road. Sprint to make the lights. Just squeeze through. Officer, the light was yellow.

Home. Dripping with sweat, dusted with, erm, dust, water barely touched.

Short can be epic too.

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