Monday, October 11, 2010

Fitness to survive

I went out on my old hand me down "Tesco Special" yesterday and found that I was doing a lot more on it that I have been, despite not being able to ride out much this month. My hill climbing was a whole lot better and my approach on trails was a lot faster (due to improved fitness and some reflection time on technique). I even managed to practice clearing some kickers to help with clearing drop offs without stopping.

I was feeling pretty pleased all round having completed two circuits in the time that it normally takes to do one. So riding home across the park all full of the joys of autumn I had a major crash. There is a nice "gentle" slope with a "small hop" into a wide open park space. It is normally a matter of pushing the bike out and then down to the ground and away you go. Not this time as a combination of factors brought about my downfall. They do say "Pride before the fall", and I was probably a little over-relaxed by the familiarity. This allied to the extra speed I carried down the hill, because I could see the crosspath had no dog walkers and also I was in a good mood, resulted in my downfall.

The bike literally flew off the lip, normally about a body length around 2m (5-6ft) before being planted and pedaling off at high speed,but this time the bike shot twice that distance and still landed sweetly. Then I found myself planting my head and face into the soft green grass with the bike following for several revolutions. I stopped rolling aware that my helmet and elbow pads had just saved me from a crushed skull and broken elbows, and wishing that I had worn knee pads that day. Nothing broken, but a lovely sheen of blood from the top of my thigh, a slight flesh wound, I was fine.

I took a look at the bike. The handlebars had wrapped round through 360, the front wheel did not line up with the handlebars pointed, the seatpost had moved, chain obviously off the cogs, and more tellingly the front brake set were locked below the wheel rim. Not that the back looked to have fared much better. I went back to check on the landing area, and there were two nice neat tyre marks for the landing point. Followed it has to be said by the scrapes of various body and bike parts coming into violent contact with the ground.

Now you may be asking what this has to do with evolution and bike building. Well the first lesson is that at a certain point the design really can't take the beating the environment dishes out. I'm fitter and stronger than when I started riding it. Initially, I thought I would just be joining a few moderate cross country rides, which this is fine for. In stark contrast my friends felt that belting down single track and throwing bikes off steep slopes and over jumps would be more fun. I improved to meet the challenge, the bike couldn't. My fitness to survive is assured as long as I jettison my symbiote and find something more resilient. That would be the P3 then.

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