Pride and Prejumping

This morning a crack team of 2 (Aldridge P and I) set off at the bleary eyed, assos chamois creamed, butt crack of dawn, destination Llandeglla Forest in North Wales. We arrived at the centre before the carpark had even opened so parked elsewhere so we could gear up, promising that we would stop for a brew and a biscuit after a lap to substitute for our carpark fee and keep the trail karma gods happy.

We span up the road and on to the trail just as they were opening up and with a cheery wave set off on our first lap. We had a cunning plan to preserve ourselves on the first lap and get to know all the new trails that the guys at have been working on for the last 4 years, then after a brew stop go for a flying lap and hit everything that few miles an hour faster as you can on a familiar trail.

Well, what can I say. The new trails are a great addition to the old. There’s a load more northshore trail with little berms and even a couple of kickers if you hit them fast enough. There’s a long descent filled with doubles, step ups and jumps which you can roll over but then have to roll over big slab style rock gardens on the top, or with a bit more confidence you can clear the rocks and land on the other side, producing a smoother ride and a big grin to boot. I can safely say that I don’t know of another trail centre with a higher persentage of fun singletrack. There are often posts on various forums with people who dislike Llandegla stating that it is too ‘easy’ or even ‘boring’, and others who level this accusation at trail centres in general. All I can say to this is, you are missing the point, the surface is ridable in all weather, there are not going to be any dangerous surpirses round the next corner and it’s just a laugh a minute. I defy anyone not to have fun on these trails, and if you think it’s boring, you should be going faster!

Today, I don’t mind saying it, I was riding very strongly indeed. I just felt good. On the first lap I felt strong and comfortable and never needed to tap too deeply into the energy bank. In the name of taking the first lap easier to avoid any dodgy moments I was squashing some of the doubles, noting the ones that I knew I could clear on the next time round and pre-jumping some of the little drops. On the second lap, we really gave it the beans and I’m proud to say that we passed dozens of people on the trail and were not passed once, a perfect record.

I was also proud of my own body and how it’s feeling at the moment. A friend of mine mentioned in his Blog that I am a Lymphoma survivor, and since then (over a decade) I have had a bit of a run of luck which has meant that I have never really felt like I’ve been able to reach my full fitness potential. First the scar-tissue in the chest that after a long period of investigations needed nerves cutting just to get them to shut up, then cluster headaches which may or may not have been linked, to the discovery of a hole-in-the-heart and a dodgy valve and subsequent insertion of an implant and course of blood thinners…you get the idea ( I sound like a wreck!), but consequently I just never felt that I was able to fire on all cylinders. I knew that the chemo would leave me with compromised lung capacity but the other stuff just seemed to add to it. Anyway, for the first time in a seriously long time today I felt like “is this what it’s like to be fully finctioning again?” I don’t want to get too philosophical about it, but watch out, next season I feel there might be some PB’s coming on!!

Right o’, see you soon, thanks again for reading and have a good ride!

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