Sorry it’s been a while. Multiple things have resulted in me only really riding to commute for the past month or so, and therefore not really having a lot to say. I don’t just want to spew out some garbled train of thoughts here, I want to talk about things that I think are worth talking about.
So I’m back, because I have something to tell you!
Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while, will already be aware of the fact that I’ve been wanting to ease myself back into mountain biking, despite my confidence issues relating to a previous crash.
Now the time has come. Meet Phoebe, my new Cotic BFe.
Before you gasp that I’ve acquired yet another bike, I have had to make a rather difficult decision. I can only justify it to myself by operating on a one-in-one-out system, and so I said an emotional farewell to Regina.
This has been tough, because I have a real sentimental attachment to my Orange RX9. We’ve had some awesome adventures together, including riding to Oxford, around the Yorkshire Dales, and the Mendips.
Regina is a super fun bike to ride, and she is very distinctive to look at. She’s become an iconic part of my blogging identity within Bristol’s cycling community. People have recognised me from the bike I’m riding.
But the fact is this: she’s a CX bike. She deserves to be racing through the mud.
When I got her, I was upgrading from the same Ridgeback hybrid (RIP Ripley) I’d been commuting on for three years. I wanted something affordable, with a racier riding position, drop bars, and disc brakes. She was one of the few options available in my size, and she came with Crosstop levers, which helped me transition to the hoods comfortably. She was exactly what I needed.
But now I have Dori as my go-to bike. A touring bike is perfect for year-round all-weather commuting. When I got her, I told myself that Regina would still be a weekend fun ride. She ended up living in the shed instead.
Back when I was musing about the need to fit in when it comes to various cycling categories, I toyed with the idea of trying out cyclocross at some stage, without fully understanding what it was. I know what it is now, and while I know it looks incredibly fun, to me it really is just a race. Unfortunately I’m not motivated by racing. I like mucking about, and being able to take my time when I encounter something technical.
I liked the idea of getting into CX, but was massively put off by the fact that in order to do so, I pretty much had to just turn up to a race and jump straight into the deep end.
The main thing that appeals to me about CX is the mud. I like being off-road and getting dirty. So it just makes plain sense for me to spend some time on the trails and do them in my own time, gradually building my confidence. And not only this, I want to do it with a bit of front suspension.
So I’ve exchanged Regina for Phoebe, and I honestly don’t regret it.
I’ve been out for a couple of rides now – one with companions, and one alone. I feel so incredibly proud of myself, to have moved on from the trauma of my crash and get back out on the trails. I’ve been craving a chance to get back out into the woods, and I’m planning to do this as often as possible.
(She says, sitting in her pyjamas at her laptop when the sun is shining outside).
I just fucking love being in the woods.
I love being surrounded by trees. I love the splash of mud against my shins.
Since I’ve talked to my colleagues about it (most of them being MTB enthusiasts), I’ve been inundated with recommendations of awesome places to go riding in the local area and also in South Wales. I have every intention of branching out as soon as I can, but for now I’m trying to be sensible.
I’ve learned from my past experiences, and I know where my limits are. For now, I’m planning to make a (hopefully) weekly trip to Ashton Court to do a lap or two of the blue Nova trail. I’ve ridden this a few times before, and I like the idea of getting to know a trail and building my confidence first, before branching off.
When I went riding with companions, I was led through Leigh Woods and the 50 Acre Wood, and I’ve had a taste of what’s to come. It’s exciting, but I’m taking my sweet time. I don’t want to end up in the middle of the 50 Acre Wood alone, lost, and suddenly encountering something I’m not ready for.
So here’s to more mud, more confidence, and more MTB.