The last few months have been really busy. I’m back to work full time (often more!) and I am thriving.
I still find walking and moving around very tricky, but for the most part we’ve found great solutions which work really well for me.
It all came together beautifully a few weeks ago with a trip to Bike Park Wales.
I’ve been a mountain biker my entire life. To be really specific, I love riding super technical trails. Steep, rocky, rooty and very complicated trails are my happy place.
I enjoy cycling around parks etc, but my first love is the technical stuff.
I was back out cycling on my recumbent trike 7 weeks after my injury. But it took a lot longer to work out if I could mountain bike again.
I worked with specialists and got lots of help. At 100 days after my injury I rolled down a mountain bike trail for the first time on a prototype bike.
Another 100 days of work constantly refining bikes and exploring tools I found myself confident enough to book a visit to bike park wales.
We went last week and it was a stunning adventure.
With my eMTB I can ride up almost anything… the bike does pretty much all the pedalling for me. I just have to sit, steer and try not to fall off. Going uphill is painful, but it passes quickly.
With this in mind we didn’t book an uplift. Sitting in the uplift truck would be exceptionally painful… and it’s not the sort of pain which fades quickly.
Our goal was to just explore the park. Building up slowly. Rather than ride all the way up we initially started with the lower half of Willy Waver (blue flow trail) and then Rim Dinger (a red tech trail).
The trails where riding beautifully and the bikes where absolutely dialled in.
The fast trails at the bike park are quite different to what we have near home. The bike park is full of fast banked turns called ‘berms’. I’m riding a berm in the photo above.
Berms are quite painful for me to ride. The forces involved are really high and it sort of makes me bend in the middle.
On the first few laps I was learning where the limits where. Being able to control my speed to try and reduce the forces, or taking a deep breath and holding it during the corner to make myself more rigid.
I’ve had issues with my hands for years so I also had to ride around that too. My bike was setup really plush, but I still needed too pace myself carefully.
By mid morning we’d explored most of the park from the mid road down. Riding the full length of Willy waver & Merthyr Rocks
As berms and high speed stuff was so painful we started exploring more technical trails.
We really enjoyed Groot. Its a very natural rooty and difficult trial. I wasn’t at all elegant or fast but I could pick my way along slowly and have a lot of fun doing it. It’s not as painful as the high speed trails could be.
After groot we did a full climb to the top and came down vicious valley into Willy waver. Then we stopped for lunch.
These are all advanced level technical trials. To be riding them barely 7 months after my injury felt exceptionally surreal. Its a bit odd to be packing the car with ebikes & a wheelchair but it works.
After lunch we have the the ebike climb a go. It’s a really fun climb. Just as much fun as coming back down!
We did laps of sixtapod and melted welly. Then we decided to go for something a little more adventurous…
In previous visits I’d ridden the first parts of a trial called ‘Root Manoeuvres’. I’d never ridden the whole thing.
It’s a very long very technical and extremely rough trail. It’s marked as a red ‘advanced’ trail but it’s also got black ‘expert’ level sections.
We decided to give the top section a go. It went well… so we headed further down.
I wasn’t fast, or elegant. I was in quite a lot of pain. But I had a ton of fun. Winding my way down and enjoying the challenge. The trail didn’t need to be ridden very fast, so I took my time and picked my lines carefully.
Getting to the bottom felt like a massive achievement. I wasn’t just back at the park, but I’d ridden the most advanced trail I’ve ever ridden!
Progression as a rider is sometimes an odd concept. Most riders seek to always be riding more and more complicated trails.
My injury has forced me to focus on being smooth. I carefully pick my way down a trail rather than attack the trail aggressively for maximum airtime or speed.
To make it all the way down one of the most challenging bike trails in the UK was a fab achievement. We got to the bottom, had a break, and then finished the day with some mellow blues. The bike batteries where flat and we where rather worn out too.
It was a really brilliant adventure. The second days riding didn’t go so well (mechanical issues + limited time) but it didn’t matter.
We had achieved the goal and more. I would have settled for a short ride down the simplest trail they have. Just being back to the park was surreal.
But instead I rode every trial I used to ride and even progressed a little into a trail I’d never completed before.
My body won’t recover as such. Instead I’ve focused on recovering my lifestyle and a return to the things I enjoy in whatever way I can enjoy them.
I am exceptionally lucky to have the support I have. Friends willing to do pretty daft things with me in the hope that it might just work out.
I can’t wait to return to the bike park and to explore other bike parks too. We have the tools and I am hella excited for the future.