What a struggle for the will? It was dark and raining when I woke. I checked my phone for texts but there was nothing. I was hoping for confirmation of a meeting with the Steyning Trail builders. It was not a good sign when I opted to put the GoPro away in my bag and then to deploy the rain cover. It was raining when I left home and, in view of the treacherous conditions, I’d let as much out of my tyres as I dare. I was on the Scott Scale 29er Expert.
I took the Sheep Track and then the Monarch’s Way to reach Steyning woods. I was slipping and sliding and several times had to try to relax as the front wheel pointed one way whilst I was travelling another. I was rapidly losing confidence and began imagining the falls that I’d have on my planned route. The roots around the top Horse Shoe trail didn’t help as they seemed covered in grease. I made a decision not to jump or to take any risks (my shoulder is still sore from my previous fall).
There was a sign declaring these trails “Legal” and not to damage them. I rode them whipping through the first berm and clearing the first (mini) double despite my plan to go for the safe option. Next I checked out some of the work that has been going on. They are doing a really good job, improving existing trails and creating some new lines too. Whilst they have a freeride/DH feel they are mostly rideable even by an old cross country git like me. I dropped into the quarry area from the left side as opposed to the usual right but not before a will power battle. I love/hate these mental moments. The mature side of me saying that walking is the best way down while the other side of me tries to rationalise the out come. The rain didn’t inspire confidence. Only two things can happen, wipe out or clean it. Minutes passed and then I rolled in determined to leave a trail down a steep much the same as a powder skier would. Job done! This test of nerve bodes well for my ski trip in a week’s time.
Next, I climbed back up deciding not to do the downhill that I’ve been doing these last few weeks. So how was it that without any hesitation, I dropped my saddle and dropped in? Was I determined to injure myself before my holiday? Sweet! Despite the pouring rain and sodden clay trail I cleaned the lot and even punched the air with a lonely fist to celebrate.
It was cold, pouring with rain and blowing a houlie but wrapped up in my Endura Stealth jacket, Thermolite tights, MT500 Spray shorts and Northwave Celsius boots, I was happy as Larry and rode home content and with a grin on my face. That was a great 2 hours.
Whilst most of the world stayed under the duvet I think that I won out: living it rather than dreaming it.
The Scott Scale 29er Expert was as good and reassuring as ever but I have to admit that the large is just too big for me and I’d have preferred to have been on our Whyte 829. One thing worth noting was that the Rocket Ron 2.25s were perfect proving that you can get away with a less aggressive tyre on a 29er.
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