19 October 2011

The Expert on the Trails

Last weekend I finally got the chance to try out my new mountain bike, the Corratec Expert XVert. Having never ridden an actual mountain bike I was a little apprehensive... but it turned out great!

We headed out a bit late (as always) and rode some canal towpaths out to Epping Forest in northeast London. We picked up the Regent's Canal about a mile from our place, and then connected to the Lee Navigation and followed it up to Epping. It's a lovely scenic ride although it always takes longer than you would hope as you have to dodge walkers, joggers, children, pets, etc. 

When we got to Epping Forest, the entrance we arrived at was what Alberto later referred to as a 'technical uphill'. Of course I didn't know this as I charged ahead up the hill, loving the existence of my triple chainring, until my front wheel lost traction with the ground and I had barely enough time to catch myself before I fell over! That's how I learned that when going uphill on the MTB, you need to lean forward and try to put weight on the front wheel. 

After that incident just to enter the forest, I was starting to feel a bit nervous for what my first MTB session had in store for me. As we went along through the beautiful scenery, I found it hard to just relax and enjoy myself. I spend all my time on the road bike watching out for hazards and trying to avoid cycling over them. Now, the entire surface that I was cycling on was made of hazards, and that was the point!

We had a 27km route through the forest planned, but it soon became apparent that with all my paranoia, we were going too slowly to have any hope of accomplishing that! Instead we just focused on trying to get more confident on the trails, with Alberto giving me tips as we went along. Mainly he just said "relax and let the bike do all the work," which I had no idea what he was talking about! He said that there was an error on my bike where it says 'Expert' along the crossbar.

I did start to relax a bit towards the end of the ride though. I started to see what the fun could be about and also started to feel more confident on different types of hazards, although I was still dismounting a fair bit when something seemed too tricky to navigate. 

I escaped the day with only one proper fall, which left me with some impressive bruises on one leg, but other than that unscathed!

We had to head back on the early side, but we stopped for a snack at a canalside cafe where we also discovered that our GPS unit can do navigation (like a car GPS), which we never knew! We found a quicker way home through the backstreets of north London. It was a short adventure in Epping, though we did manage to put in 60km, but I definitely look forward to my next trip out on the trails!

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