Ticking off ‘The List’…

9 03 2009

I need to have things to look forward to otherwise life can meander by and before you know it dreams and ambitions are lost to time…I know this isn’t everyone’s idea of fun but in our house we have a Wish List. 

Anything can go on it, doesn’t have to be just riding your bike, but it gives a focus to the things you dream about which, if you ever get the time / money / motivation / inspiration, you’d like to do.

Here’s our list at the moment:-

  • Ride slickrock at Moab
  • Ride The Rockies
  • Ride a tandem
  • Ride the Suisse Normandie VT trails with satan the trailer
  • Go on Eurostar (I know it’s sad)
  • See the World Downhill Champs at Fort William
  • Go Bothying
  • Buy bivvy bags and a tarp and sleep under the stars
  • Ride the Dolomites
  • Abseil down a wall
  • Have a go on a climbing wall
  • Ride every National Park in the UK

Now, most of the these things involve a lot of time and money which makes achieving them a long term goal but there’s the odd little gem that catches your eye as you walk past the list.  The timing’s right – you have a day free, you’ve got the motivation, you make a phone call and before you know it….you’ve only gone and hired a tandem for the day !  £30, bargain…

ticking off the list !

ticking off the list !

but you pays your money, you gets what you pay for…gears weren’t working all that brilliantly and improvised on-the-trail lubriant of freeze pain gel (it was all we had) did the trick for about 10 seconds, so it was middle ring for most of the day which = a damn good workout.

To say I was excited is an understatement!  Always fancied a bash at offroad tandeming and here we were doing it.  Joined by partners in crime Rich and Donna on their beautiful tandem we set off for a day on the Downs.  This tandem was going to get a good testing (and so were my nerves).

Problem No.1.  I wasn’t in control.  Didn’t realise how much of a control freak I am until I got on the back of a bike with nothing to think about except pedalling.  Not being able to see, didn’t like that either to begin with.  What gear we were pedalling in, man that was a cause of frustration because I like to spin and Rick likes to stomp.  Flexion of the bike as Rick stomped the pedal stroke nearly gave me whiplash.

Our peers gave good advice before the off … communication is key.  How true.  The pilot needs to communicate everything to his stoker.  When to pedal harder, to stop, to lift yer bum for potholes, what obstacles were looming, with the blind stoker on the back putting all faith in the pilot. This got me worried.  If you’ve ever followed Rick you’ll understand what I mean.  His line choice is often of the more ‘interesting’ variety and his technique/riding style is much more aggressive than mine.  I needed to keep the faith.

Starting in Friston we decided to stick to mainly wide tracks but give a bit of the Purple loop a go (not the downhill run though).  That worked fine until we met up with Darth and the Wee Kid in the forest and got chatting about our new Flintstone trail.  The idea planted.  Before we knew it we were riding it. 

Flinstone is a trail in progress.  Hacked back brambles and logs giving a deliberately vague singletrack outline through the trees.  It’s tight and twisty even on a solo bike but a tandem !  Pedal, pedal, pedal came the instruction so I pedalled and we were riding Flintstone.  Mind the stump, what stump, ouch that stump as Rick’s foot cleared it and mine got a bashing.  Round the tight trees we were ploughing our way through the undergrowth worried more about no slime tubes than crashing.  Managing a good few 100mtrs we ground to a halt round a tight corner, pleased with our efforts hailing from behind… ‘coming through’ … Rich and Donna steamrollered past like a pair of pros managing to get round the tighest of corners then had an off.  Up and dusted we were laughing like drains.  Brilliant fun.  I want one 🙂

That was before our death defying downhill into Lullington Valley.  Steep, loose, flinty and slick white chalk underfoot.  Have you any idea how quickly a tandem gains speed downhill ?  Stuck in the gully to the RH side all of a sudden Rick yanked on the (fully rigid) front end and we frighteningly changed line with me screaming on the back.  Once at the bottom all went silent, and I went pale.  That was one of the scariest things I have ever done.  Hmmmm, not sure I fancy repeating it either !

After gathering myself we set off again happily playing along Charleston Bottom, contemplating One Tree Hill, but quickly riding by in case R&D were actually serious 🙂  Out onto the road where your pedal technique shines through and you need low gears (which we didn’t) to spin the beast up hills.

Well earned refreshments at The Giants Rest then off again round Arlington Reservoir and with two very impressive tight corners successfully tackled, we were brimming with confidence.

On the way home we swopped over stokers / pilots and tandems to get the feel between a £30 hire bike and a decent bike and different riding styles.  As with everything you get what you pay for.  R&Ds bike was a solid quality item.  I had a go on the front of both bikes and realised just how hard it is to control the damn things.  R&D make it look so easy.  The final stretch home it was girls vs boys as we swopped again and Donna and I powered our way back to the car park.  All 4 of us struggling to push the pedals through laughing.  What a hoot, what a fab day.   Now the tick list says ‘buy a tandem’…watch this space !  Lisa

clicky link for some photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/13519914@N00/sets/72157614625497994/

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