Let the off-road adventures begin

Made for mud

Alright, I admit. I have a new addiction. And it’s mountain biking.

Yes, I’ve only been for a shortish ride round the local common, but goodness me, what a rush! It’s making me want to ride further and in more interesting places.

This past weekend, I went for a ride with two of my friends. I started out pretty hesitant but by the end of the ride, I was doing much better. My confidence had improved and I realised that yes, I can actually ride a bike. It really is just a question of gears.

Our chosen route was… well, a bit damp. And muddy, it being the woods. Off the path, which had plenty of big puddles, it was actually flooded.

Horsell Common has gained a new lake

Still, we ploughed on. It’s really relaxing, actually. You have to pay attention – there’s roots and potholes and mud everywhere – but whizzing along on a bike is really soothing. The only issue is when you reach mud that’s too thick to pedal in and you have to get off and push. Yeah. You can pedal through mud like that but I lack the fitness right now to do it.

I also wasn’t sure what gear I needed but the general feeling was ‘not the one I’m in’. Gears on bikes are something I am very much still working out. Luckily Angus is very forgiving but he’s also one of those bikes that lets you know if you’re doing it wrong. I knew I’d bought a good bike. I wasn’t expecting it to teach me so much so fast!

As well as gears, I also learned:

  • Padded shorts are a Thing I need: I had been hoping to avoid these but unfortunately my bum tells me otherwise. Luckily Amazon has provided and they are on their way.
  • No, your old horse riding gloves are not adequate for cycling: I have also ordered some proper gloves with padding in the right places. Holding horse reins and handlebars are two very different things!
  • Mini Cheddars are not enough sustenance for a ride: pretty self-explanatory. I need better snacks. There may be some recipes in future posts.

On the plus side, my walking trainers are great to ride in and my running tops are just fine for cycling. As is my old running waterproof but it has no pockets so I may have to upgrade.

I also have a new respect for how fit mountain bikers are. The aches in my legs and my arms are, well, proof of the lack of exercise (I hadn’t done any really strenuous exercise since March, when I last visited a gym) and I was really out of breath. My cardio fitness is appalling right now! I don’t think it will take long, though. A few more rides like that, and I’ll be well on my way.

Hopefully I’ll drop some weight by mountain biking too. I’m a stone overweight (thanks, lockdown and shielding) and at least I will be losing it in a fun way. Plus the outdoors is free, and there’s less restrictions. I don’t think I’ll ever be going to a gym again.

So tl;dr: I am now addicted to mountain biking, it’s great but I need to equip myself better.

More adventures on the back of Angus to come, no doubt!

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