Team Epic Fail (Jeremy, Frank and myself) headed down to Glentress for an early evening blast around the red route, in preparation for 10 Under The Ben in late May.  I took about 1h15m to get there, via the congested bypass.   The BBC weather forecast had been proclaiming doom and gloom for days.  But Frank was wise and told us to ignore them.  And it was just as well we believed him, because we got a great evening of riding.

This was the first time I’ve been back to Glentress since they added the singletrack ascent up to the top car park.  I didn’t mind the old road too much, but the singletrack is certainly more interesting, with lots of switchbacks and a few extras to jump and hop over.  I set off at what felt like my ‘default’ hill climbing pace – enough to be breathing heavily but still a pace I could sustain for a long time.  But it turns out, that’s a pretty unsocially fast pace uphill.  I was pleasantly surprised – it seems that all my road training has given an unexpected boost to my off-road climbing skillz, yay!

Unfortunately, my descending skills leave a lot to be desired.  Dropping down Pennel’s Vennel, I was too tense – not helped by clip-ins and muddy conditions.  And Spooky Wood didn’t flow very well until I made the discovery that sitting down whilst riding the berms made the bike feel waay more stable.  Normally, I stay up off the saddle on berms – but I always feel like the bike and me are hinged in the middle, which is a degree-of-freedom I could do without.   However, with my new patented sit-down-on-berms technique, suddenly everything comes together and the bike and me become one solid unit.

We opted for the blue return route, due to fading light.  Even though, the dense forest sections were getting seriously dark, leading to many ‘use the force, luke’ comments.   We dropped down off the road onto the soberingly fast motorway section (there really is a motorway sign there).  The last bit of the blue, back to the freeride area, was my favourite bit of the day.  It’s a mix of flat and uphill, snapping left and right, and Jeremy blasted away making for an irresitable target to chase after.  He was faster, but it was a lot of fun to chase a challenging target.  Lots of grins.  We rounded up with three or four trips down the freeride area and, for the first time, I started to get the hang of getting air .. it’s not about being a passenger on a bike which is going airborne .. it’s about going airborne yourself and bring the bike along with you.  Stand up, and imagine that you’re going to fly, and you will.  Mindgames!

A good ride! 🙂