How are your stats? Clocked some serious elevation this month?

Ours are looking seriously depleted, more akin to a month spent injured, tied down by work or a broken phone and no access to Strava. But don’t let that mislead you, we’ve been out nearly every day. In fact, last month we made the hour long drive, every single day to the same, small, gravel parking spot, next to the by-pass, with a beautiful view of the escalating mountains in front of us.

“Playing Bikes” as we now affectionately, often call it is a deep routed element of our bike riding routine and plays a vital part in the other elements of our bike riding as well. Those small moments of perfect balance or the difference between a subtle and a bold movement on the bike can mean the difference between cleaning the most janky of technical big mountain terrain or tip the balance on a perfectly executed S-bend berm. What seems like and I guess in all reality is playing bikes, often called car park skills and overlooked as showboating or dicking about, is just as vital as putting in the long winter miles and way more productive than cross fit. As far as I’m concerned, everyone should be getting involved and pre-ride car park wheelie competitions should be obligatory!

This brings us to a random field, filled with huge wedges of stone. There are hundreds of lines there to go at, all with different levels of skill, commitment and preparation needed. We ticked off some simple, but satisfying lines on day 1. We finished Day 2 with some hard fought, but satisfying clips in the bag, but also with a firmly defined crux.

The Crux… At the bottom of the area stood a four metre high wave of rock. Shaped like a crudely formed vert quarter pipe, like you’d expect to see at the local skatepark. Deep, diagonal grooves in the centuries old rock and a thick covering of moss, made for a less than simple angle of attack and both the run in and exit left a little to be desired. It was perfect!

We throughly cleaned a strip of the rock and prepped a solid line in to ensure a consistent run in speed and trajectory, set up the cameras and began. As far as our “playing bikes” was concerned, this was a big one and in an ideal world Dan didn’t want to be doing it more than once. We quickly realised though, as with anything that pushes your limits, it was not going be plain sailing.

Tens of attempts later, hundreds of micro adjustments, invisible to all but Dan and it was ready for the one. One last pass of the blow torch to ensure every ounce of grip was available and he took his position at the top of the run in.

“Dropping”… only a few pedal strokes and Dan’s rolling with the hill, every rock and lump, bump and transition playing its part in getting him there, the perfect speed, an impeccable line and it’s done.

High fives all round, bags packed and the short roll back to the van, time for a pint to celebrate and maybe a quick check on the map, at something we saw the other day.

Fri 13th Mar, 2020 @ 9:30 am

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