Gravel

I was a mountain biker for ages before I ever swung a leg over one of those bikes with really skinny tyres. You know the ones. Road bikes.

Most mountain bikers, myself included, are hobbyists. We ride mountain bikes because we enjoy it, not because we’re good at it. Because I’m not very good at it, I’m quite used to falling off. It’s something we expect and accept. It’s part of the fabric of the activity. If you don’t fall off, you’re not pushing yourself (is what we all tell ourselves, so that we feel better after binning it on that really easy bit of trail…again.)

The nice thing about falling off a mountain bike, is that there’s usually some mud to land on, in the UK at least. Mud is soft. Falling onto something soft is good, especially now I’m not a bouncy youth.

Anyway, I haven’t been out riding off road for AGES now, for a variety of dull, grown up reasons. The bike most likely to get pulled out of the garage these days is the skinny tyred one. It’s far less time consuming to rack up some miles on the road, so that’s what tends to happen. Every time I’ve been out on the road bike I’ve managed to complete my ride without crashing. Apart from the last time.

It had been raining. There was gravel on the corner. Jupiter wasn’t correctly aligned with Mars. I was distracted by a nearby cow. My talent reserves ran dry.

Falling off a road bike hurts. That’s because you fall onto the road, and the road is hard. I don’t remember much about the crash, because I hit my (helmeted) head pretty hard on the road. I remember the moment when I realised it was about to happen. The split second where your brain goes “you’re not saving this” and you curse the bike, even though you know it’s really your fault.

My helmet was cracked in five places.

Giro Hex Broken Helmet Cracked

My right elbow was fully functional, but very painful, and unusually squishy.

All the parts of me which are supposed to move still did, and none of the parts that aren’t supposed to had decided to have a go at being mobile.

The people I was riding with (for the first time ever, so I felt pretty cool, obviously) checked I was okay to carry on, and we did.

I haven’t been out since though, and I’m starting to think I ought to have got back on the bike by now. I start a new job tomorrow, and I’m intending to commute by bike whenever I can, so I’ll soon find out whether I’ve put myself off road riding. I hope not, because until you fall off, it’s really great.

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