Too much protein, too much carbohydrate, too much fat, and waaaaaay too much booze in the last few days, so I was glad to get out on the MUni to burn off a few of the extra 6 pounds I’ve put on. (Not that I’m counting, of course.)
I park at the end of the lane that leads into the forest. There are several vehicles there, and a few bicyclists preparing for a ride. I pump up the tyre, freemount and ride past the cyclists, nodding politely but not wanting to be drawn into conversation - I have calories to burn!
The gate to the forest track is closed, and fences and barriers have been erected on all sides to prevent cyclists bypassing it. I slow down to survey my choice of routes. A moment’s loss of concentration and SPLAT! I faceplant only 20 metres from the car, in full view of the bicyclists.
Blushing burns more calories than swimming, jogging, or going up quite steep stairs.
Once I’m past the gate, there’s a long gradual climb up a forest track which gives me chance to get used to the MUni again - I haven’t ridden it for weeks. I’m soon confident enough to divert onto a side track where I have to pick my route between puddles, ruts, slime and fallen branches. It’s amazing how unfit you get after a few weeks without riding. My heart is pounding like a thing that pounds lots and lots - for example the drummer in late 70s popular beat combo, Adam and the Ants, who famously had two bass drums.
Which leads me neatly on to the next bit which is a steep slimy singletrack, where I have to Stand and Deliver to get to the top. I’m really chuffed to make it up the hill because (a) it is somehwere near the limit of my pre-layoff ability, and (b) I have just seen a bicyclist on a
super dooper zillion speed front and rear suspension disc braked mountain bike take the easy route, then look back over his shoulder to see me take the difficult route.
Soon I am on the famous Desert - a vast area of sand, gravel and mud on quarry land. It is illegal to go on this area, which means that all of the moto-cross bikes, jeeps, quads, trikes and so on that are there every weekend really shouldn’t be. Every time something big is kicking off down the road (e.g. a murder) the police are busy on the desert arresting or impounding virtually everything except the sand, gravel and mud. But not today, because, full of Christmas goodwill, our boys in blue are no doubt sipping capuccino down at the nick.
I do some good climbs and a short but scary descent on the desert, and surprise myself with how well I ride across the sand. The sand is wet enough to bind together, but not soggy enough to be slippery, so I do better than ever before. It’s hard work, though, so it is soon time to move on into the forest, where I follow single tracks of slimy leaves and muddy ruts, falling off periodically, and getting my pulse rate up to about 400.
I manage another quite hairy descent (descents are not my big thing, what with me living on a flood plain) and I amaze myself with a couple of long climbs. On one, I am slip sliding up the hill, hauling on the handle, grunting with each pedal stroke. As it gets harder and harder, I start muttering under my breath, and this gets louder and louder until the final part of the climb sounds something like this: “Ah, ah, ah, yes, yes, yes, yes! YES! YES! YEEEES!”
I reach the top to find a small group of mountain bikers, all with startled expressions.
I find the Surprise Cafe, but it is packed. Unwilling to queue for a coffee, only to share a table with a common person, I go back out to the uni, only to find that a ‘wintry shower’ has started. I have about a mile and a half to go to the car, and it is mainly hard surfaced forest road, so I get my head down and go for it.
On the way, I overtake a family on foot. After the usual comments, one of them bellows to “Tommy!” who is far ahead on his mountain bike. Tommy doesn’t look back. Then father says to mother, “Oh well, he’ll see him when he catches him up.” A compliment of sorts.
A better compliment is that I DO catch Tommy up - because I am steaming up the hill that had stopped him. There is Tommy, about 12 years old, on a mountain bike with more gears and technology than all my last four motorbikes put together, stopped for a rest on a shallow hill while I sail past on my unicycle with a merry grin.
Back at the car, a small group of mountain bikers are unsuccessfully experimenting with wheelies. They studiously avoid eye contact. As I pack the uni in the back of the car I hear one of them say they should do ‘about 8 miles’ and the other replies, “I don’t think I can go that far.” I look at my computer: 8.33 miles. That’s a short ride, but I’ve done some harder riding than ever before.
Back home: I’ve lost about a pound in weight. :0\