I’d been planning on going to Cannock Chase for some time but one of my work colleges persuaded me to give it a go and I went determined to give mountain biking a shot even though I had tried it once before and it had scared me to death and I was ill equipped to go. My bike is a hybrid and has thin tyres. Hardly suitable for the terrain and with no suspension it was totally unsuitable but I thought I would give it a go. How hard could it be?
We were going to ‘follow the dog’.
My colleague had warned me about some of the hard bits so I was a little prepared and my OH went ahead to warn me of obstacles coming up.
It’s hard work and takes a lot of concentration and hard work on the upper body. The trail through the trees is really tight in places and coordinating brakes, body position, peddle position, gears and speed takes a lot of work and sometimes I got it wrong!
My peddles when in the down position would catch on stumps or rocks and throw me sideways. The slopes down are often followed quickly by steep slopes up and sometimes i missed a gear change and lost momentum and ended up stopping dead on a steep slope. The bends were really tight between the trees negotiating my big wheels round the bends was hard.
There is a steep long climb too. A real lung buster, needless to say I stopped twice going up it!
It doesn’t look that bad from this pic but believe me it was a killer.
There are some parts where the dirt path turns onto steps then thin wooden bridges. I didn’t have the guts to go over these when I saw them and came to a sudden stop and walked down them!
(I nicked this picture of the boardwalk off the net!)
However, further on the track I didn’t have the chance to stop as the steps come upon you quickly and before you know it you’re going over them!
Scary but exhilarating.
The worst parts I found were the sandy/gravelly tracks which wound snake like down the hill because you have to go slightly on an angle on the side of the track and keep your speed up to avoid slipping or skidding. It seemed to go forever and I was grateful when it was over!
That’s not me by the way! I wasn’t going that fast!
I stopped on a bit like this and realised someone was coming up behind me so had to scramble out the way sharpish!
I’d stopped further up the track as well, in the trees and pulled over to have a drink when 3 guys came whizzing down on top spec bikes. They must have been in their 60’s! Owned by silver foxes!
We followed them further down the track and luckily my OH got off his bike and walked down to where the silver foxes were having a break. It was a steep and messy and I was relieved to walk down it.
The foxes proceeded to tell me that my bike was all wrong for the course and the terrain. Erm, yep I had gathered that but there was no going back now!
The only way was forward and I was determined to show them I was going to make it to the end in one piece!
We got to an easier bit and could rest a bit a bit and then Bruce shouts ‘rollers ahead’ what the heck were rollers? Well I was about to find out! They are very large close together humps about a metre high. They looked easy and Bruce steamed over them so I followed. Nothing to skid on, no tight bends.
I picked up speed over the first 2 humps and then on the way up the third I realised I was going really fast and flew over the top of the hump and panicked. I think I slammed my breaks on and hit my front wheel head on to the ground. I flew forward towards the ground and as if in slow mo I saw the ground coming towards my face and thwack, smacked my head hard on the ground. I came to a stop and assessed the damage. My handle bars were wedged between my thighs and one was stuck in my bladder region!
Bruce realised I wasn’t approaching him so dumped his bike and came to my rescue. He untangled me from the bike and got me up. Luckily I was off the track a guy came tanking over the hill and shouted in passing ‘you ok? You need help?’ I said ‘I’m fine thank you, don’t worry’ to his departing image as he flew off.
I was covered in dirt and had a few cuts and bruises and an egg on my forehead but apart from that I was fine, thank god. No broken bones!
My pride was the worst thing hurt then as I was determined to see those guys and show them I had made it round unscathed. But alas I wouldn’t be able to :-(
My bike was fine apart from a few battle scars. My new bike computer and glasses were scratched. Every pair of glasses I own are scratched on the left lens right in front of my eye! Every single pair and now these. Gutted.
Still I’m in one piece thank goodness. Feel a bit spaced out and drunk but not in a good way!
My head hurts and my neck is as stiff as a board and I feel like I've been in a car crash but I shall definitely be going back but with a decent mountain bike and body armour!