I've noticed, over the years, that kayakers are often associated with other 'pit yourself against nature' sports, such as rock climbing and mountain biking (MTBing). So it was a joy to introduce Johnny B (limited off-road experience) and Janet H (haven't ridden a bike in years) not only to MTBing, but inspiring to see how they were tearing up the difficult trails by the end of the day. Janet squeezed three bikes, three sets of kit, and us three into her tardis car, and drove up the A-roads to beautiful Cannock chase, which for those who don't know, is open-access heather covered land, with lots of pine forested sections, complete with easy, moderate, difficult and a few 'black' run MTB trails. The only part of the perfect day that didn't go perfectly was my plan for Janet to use my USA bought full-suspension MTB, and me to use my mud covered , nearly brakeless, knackered front suspension only MTB, since the Yankies seem to use a different thread on their clip-ins to us Europeans. Hey-ho, Janet wasn't too put out, and she certainly didn't want to try and use clip-in shoes.
We set off in glorious cloud free skies along the easy FairOak Green trail, to allow Janet and Johnny to get (re-) acquainted to their MTBs, Johnny and I styling it up on some minor trails on the margins of the Green trail. Then on to the slightly harder Sherbrook Blue trail, where the joys of cycling up steep hills in 28degC heat we sampled. I then pointed out the start of a section of the 'Follow the Dog' Red (difficult) trail, and Janet thought we could all give it a go, though I think the main motivation was that it was under the trees out of the blazing sun.
Janet and Johnny took the this committing difficult trails brilliantly and we never did anything but Red trails for the rest of the day. From slow and cautious beginnings, both went faster and faster as the day went on, to the point that Janet was worried about the brakes not stopping her in time on numerous occasions. Janet has one slow motion 'off' and Johnny showed he could cartwheel a bike just as easily as his boat with his 'off' landing him half in a puddle, having gone up his axle at speed in another puddle. No damage done in each case.
All three of us had a hot, sweaty, but superb day taking in the delights of Cannock, seeing no sign of civilisation for most of the day, a real pleasure on the outskirts of Brum. Many thanks to Janet and Johnny. I am more than happy to repeat this trip, if it has inspired others. Just suggest a date! Cheers, Brian Nicholson
PS we used our own bikes, but it turns out that hiring is very expensive, with prices of £30 to £50-ish depending upon full or front suspension, for 3hours or a day, so borrowing bikes is recommended. Helmets are also strongly recommended!
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