In the old days, pre-shoulder, I could descend with the best. I would just throw the bike downhill and ride the knife edge that is control. The faster you go the sharper the blade. It’s amazing that the brain can control two brakes with fingertip accuracy while positioning the body for perfect balance, while reading and predicting what’s coming next racing down a hillside over rock, roots, grass, and dirt. Not to mention sorting out where other riders are so as not to hit them. You really are just there in the moment, there is nothing else, and nothing else quite like it.Things are a little different now, try as I might, pain and stiffness stop me from approaching adequate. It is a very humbling experience to be among the slowest going downhill. Riders coming from behind calling me to move over because I am holding them up. Then when I cruise past them on the uphill they try hard to hold me off so that I won’t hold them up on the next downhill.
I rode the Merida 100 at Builth Well last weekend, and part way down one descent I moved over to allow a couple of faster riders through. They flew past me and were gone in seconds. I cursed as I battled with the terrain, so frustrated, then as I came around the corner, there they were, stacked on top of each other in a big rut, but unhurt and laughing! Lucky lads.
I took over 5hrs to complete the course, and was the third vet home just 4 minutes down. If only I hadn’t made the daft mistake of riding my hardtail. Ah well, I’ll know next time.