The clocks have gone back. Henceforth, every evening ride will begin and end in the dark until BST comes round again. A good time of year to appreciate how much wildlife we share the trails with. This can be a good thing – the pairs of eyes looking at you from within the gloom… closely followed by a herd of deer bounding across the track in front of you. Or catching sight of a barn owl floating along, soundless as it goes about its’ work. Sometimes it can be less of a good thing.
My ride last night was one of the latter.
The Rattlesnake Syndrome
Back in the 1990s there was an MTB advert extolling the virtues of going fast, of being the guy on the front, of riding their new bike. The new bike of course, facilitated the first two sets of virtues. The ‘hook’ was that “The rattlesnake always gets the second guy”. And so it was last night. Two of us were bumping our way down a very rooty trail, I was second rider. We were carrying enough light to illuminate a small football stadium and were confident in our ability to see everything there was to be seen.
Beware! There are Badgers
Suddenly, out of the undergrowth came two, very large, badgers. I missed the first one but hit the second. You can’t fail but to appreciate the irony. The second rider being taken out by the second badger and vice versa. Anyway, if you have yet to experience the delights of colliding with a badger, they are surprisingly large and…solid!
Enjoy your flight
As I began the shortest of short flights over the bars, time slowed down to a crawl. I saw my arms outstretched ahead of me and had time to think “retract arms, tuck and roll”. I also had time to follow my own instructions. Hitting the trail in the best tuck position I could achieve was accompanied by a sickening crunch as my head slammed into a protruding root. My helmet absorbed the impact so apart from a bit of jarring, all was well.
There was nothing to be seen of the badgers. I was left lying, alone on the trail in a pool of light for a few seconds. I stood up, Rich returned and we checked the bike. As far as we could see, it was fine. All my extremities moved and there was no serious pain. In a minute or so, concern turned to laughter…as it does. Badgers were reclassified from ‘wildlife’ to ‘dynamic technical trail features’ and we headed home.
Just another ride on the trails albeit one where I got somewhat closer to the local fauna than intended. My helmet is heading for the wheelie bin and a replacement has been ordered. I ache all over but it is nothing that won’t disappear in a day or so. Just need to check the bike for damage.
If there is a moral to this story it could either be one of safety. Get your (over the bars) dismount routine sorted and always wear a helmet. Or…make damned sure you aren’t second rider. I think I’m going with the second one!
Last modified: 20th February 2018