MTB / flying lessons with Big Chris – 30/3/2014

It started with Seb, an epically moustachioed Frenchman and erstwhile chef at the Plough in Ivy Hatch, and a Facebook / MTB group, the “Trace de Frein Collective” (trans – skid mark, of the brake dragging variety, although judging by the look on a few faces, the other, cruder translation could just as well apply) who have been busy creating some sneaky technical trails around the woods around Ightham and Oldbury Woods. Group member big Chris from the bike shop in Sevenoaks had offered to guide tri clubbers around........

So it came to pass that a motley crew gathered at the Plough on Sunday morning.  Lots of lycra and head-down-a**e-up riding positions; Sally (who has always had a bit of a dodgy thermostat) decided it was about 35 degrees and that  a sleeveless top was just the job for ripping through the woods and launching off logs; and Nigel Masding looking particularly resplendent in nose to tail predominantly white tri club gear (and single sided pedals). This contrasted neatly with Chris – ¾ shorts, long sleeves, piss pot “enduro” helmet. Much bike envy – Chris’ carbon fibre enduro steed particularly gaining admiring glances. Full carbon, 6 inch travel, big brakes, uppy downy seatpost, big knobby tyre on the front, and smaller, faster rolling tread on the back, all designed to climb reasonably and honk across or downhill.

(You may have picked up on the term enduro: “Gravity Enduro” (different to xc  enduro) is the new kid on the block in the mtb world. It involves events of 3 to 4 hours up to a week, with untimed liaison stages (although you do have to get to the next timed stage within a time limit) and timed predominantly downhill stages, ridden at time trial intensity, and rewarding the fit, skilful, and brave..... The cynic might say you are paying to do what you always used to do, just wrapped up in a new niche (anyone mention road sportives?........)

And off we toddled to up the first hill, Chris (a bit to our surprise) effortless pulling ahead while we huffed and puffed behind, along some nice singletrack, before the first techie bit. Oh how the great of 7oaks tri flung themselves over the bars with gay abandon, rapidly deciding the bail out “chicken” runs may be a smarter option (and even inventing even easier “triathlete” runs in some cases). Chris merrily pointed out the tricky bits before effortlessly plummeting, down, through, off, or over them, with a particularly adept display of jumping at one point. One steep bank would have had you over the bars and forward rolling into the A25 if you got it wrong.

I’m not sure what the wipe out count was, but Rich Bryant, David Svan Skan Stan  oh you know the big bloke who swims in lane 5, Dan Goscombe and Sally all had over the bar experiences, Sally deciding to bury herself in a big hole right in front of me – certainly saw the whites of her eyes as I took evasive action.

Good morning out, with the inevitable time trial back to Sevenoaks for mother’s day duties.