There’s an old saying in the world of mountain biking: “Sometimes you eat the trail, sometimes the trail eats you.”
It refers of course to the difference in performance and feedback you can experience between rides – some rides are incredible, effortless, fast and furious – the trail is delicious and you just eat it up and spit out the crumbs. At other times the riding can be gruelling, the pace slow, and the effort required to pedal almost too huge to cope with. Everything feels wrong. Crashing during such a ride is just evil icing on a miserable cake, and the trail licks its lips to wipe it up.
Well, this week I had the pleasure of riding with my old, old friend Rich, and took him out onto some of Coed y Brenin’s finest waymarked and hidden trails. The sun shone, the riding was good, and we even took the time for a quick dip in one of the blue-green pools that lie hidden along the river Cam. We were both nailing the technical stuff, floating through the rolly stuff and laughing along the way. All in all it was one of those days when the trail got well and truly eaten.
Until the last descent.
Perhaps it was tiredness, perhaps we just did one too many runs, perhaps it was the first drops of rain from the oncoming storm. Maybe it was a little bit of inconsiderate riding by the guy behind, who insisted on buzzing my friend down the last descent. Whatever though, only yards before the finish, the trail decided it had had enough of being eaten and decided to bite back.
So, two hospitals, two missing teeth, 30-40 stitches, and several hours later, we ended what was nearly a perfect day.
There was no beer. No kicking back and reminiscing about the superb sections we’d ridden. Instead, just a long long drive in wet shorts (from the swimming!) to get Rich’s face put back together.
And so, as for that saying, well I’ve made a slight modification:
Sometimes you eat the trail, sometimes the trail eats you, and then occasionally, very occasionally, you eat each other at the same time!