Day Sixty Seven: Eduardo’s Road To Fitness

It has been said that the kind of panic you experience when you get your head or hand stuck in something is one of the worst kinds of panic.  Having said that I am sure I can think of other situations that would rival either of these.

I was mountain biking and had been taking random left and rights whenever I encountered a new trail.  I was miles from anywhere and was about to tackle what looked like a difficult descent.  I use Time ATAC clipless pedals on my mountain bike – a lovely Nicolai Saturn.  As I approached a tight right hand bend a little warning light went on some where in my oxygen starved brain.

The trail was wet and covered in a mixture of rocks, rain gullies and twisted tree roots that cut across the off-camber bends.  It was a trail that required confidence, good tires and a healthy dose of skill and mental strength.

The ground began to drop away as I made my way around the corner.  Ahead of me lay two deep gullies that had effectively reduced the width of the track to about eight inches.  The only way to ride the twenty-metre section was to keep to the narrow strip of sandstone that ran between the two deep gullies. I was confident that I could ride the eight-inch wide section of trail and began my descent.  The trick is not to focus on the deep gullies either side but to look further down the trail at where you want to go.  In general the bike will end up wherever your eyes place it.  Stare at a big nasty rock off to the left and there is a good chance you will ride straight into it.

Given that it was really steep I was looking quite far ahead trying to anticipate any obstacles that might present themselves.  I never saw the wild pheasant until it shot out from the undergrowth.  For a split second I noticed the lovely reddish hues in its plumage.  I looked over to my left as it darted across the trail and entered a gap in the shrubs.  My eyes were now not looking at where I was meant to be going. I began to veer off to the left and found myself teetering on the edge of the gulley.  I hit the brakes and tried to unclip my left foot from my pedal.  It was stuck.  I must have jammed it with sand when I had stopped earlier to take some photos.  I was now balanced on the edge of a three-foot deep gulley filled with rocks.  I was balanced between blood and tears on one side and a smooth exit on the other.

I have learnt that in situations like these you can either accept falling off or resist.  Sometimes sheer will power can save you from losing a busload of skin.  I wrenched the bars to the right, throwing my weight away from the gulley, let go of the brakes and continued down the gulley. Only when I had made it and was through the gulley section did I begin a long string of random expletives involving pheasants and time pedals.

I am in a position now to put forward the argument that not being able to unclip from ones clipless pedals can indeed rival the panic that arises with getting either a head or hand stuck in something.

I am off to get some WD40 to clean out my pedals just in case I meet a pheasant again when I least expect it.


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