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MTB Again!

by Grant Clark in June 2013 - Clark's Lore

If you are a reader of my column you will know by now that I am a firm believer that the optimum position to be adopted when navigating life is on one’s posterior, on the couch with one hand on a cold beer and the other alternating between a oversized bag of Nik Naks and a TV remote control (with orange buttons).

The opposite of this position, whatever the opposite of optimum is, is on a mountain bike. I’m not sure who ever came up with the notion of exercise but it certainly wasn’t anyone from my bloodline! It could well have been a part of TLJ’s bloodline though because she has an unnatural fascination with being fit and healthy which can only be explained by dodgy genes.

I say, “live and let live” and I don’t castigate TLJ for her choice of lifestyle. TLJ on the other hand subscribes to the philosophy of “do as I do and not as you want” which is a surprisingly unsympathetic or respectful life attitude. Which is why, as you know, I find myself an unwilling part of the mountain biking world.

Mountain biking is, as far as I am concerned, one embarrassing event waiting to happen on top of another. A sort of parfait of embarrassment, if you will. Firstly, every time I go out I feel like a spectacle. If spandex were an animal pelt it would be an endangered animal given the amount of it I am required to have on before I mount my steed of doom.

Then, as I have shared before, matters steadily go downhill until you are the source of much mirth on the mountain and find yourself hearing “I know a guy who saw a guy...” stories which sound alarmingly like they involve you.

Aside from all of this, what probably concerns me most is that, aside from the fact that the whole mountain bike yoke is clearly not for normal people, the mountain also happens to be full of baboons. Now if I want to get into contact with wildlife I generally spend some quality time with my girls. They may be a tad spirited but at least
they have never flung dung at me. Well once, but that was a communication failure and was technically my fault.

Luckily for me though I am never alone when mountain biking and my partner in suffering, Brett, is always with me. Brett appears to be some kind of modern day Sir Richard Attenborough. The last time we were out we came across a troop of about thirty baboons in the middle of the road we were cycling on. Being someone who is distrustful of squirrels you can imagine the amount of panic that a sizable troop of baboons would cause me. Luckily Brett was there to assure me that I was perfectly safe and that I was unlikely to form part of their diet unless they were really hungry.

His suggestion was that I ride as fast as possible weaving my way through the unsuspecting troop after which, once they were fully alerted to our presence because we were, apparently, down wind and they probably hadn’t caught our scent yet, despite the fact that several of them appeared to be looking straight at us, he would follow on the far more riskier second run.

I know. It was quite clearly a thinly veiled attempt to get me to be the guinea pig but, like I said, I was panicked at the time and so wasn’t thinking clearly. It seemed like a plan so I agreed and set off at pace, well my pace, towards the troop.

Just as I got to the troop at full steam I heard Brett yell from behind me, “don’t get between the babies and their mothers!” Now you have to appreciate that of the thirty odd baboons sitting and reclining on the road in front of me there were at least ten babies scattered about the place. You may be able to figure out which baby baboon belongs with which mommy baboon at first glance but I certainly can’t.

Given that I was now committed, at pace, I wasn’t about to stop and ask the baboons which baby belonged to which adult, so I adopted the international display of ineptitude and took my feet off the peddles, stuck them out horizontally as high as I could and ploughed on through the troop of baboons. I got one or two strange looks from
the baboons and I think one farted, although that could have been me as I was very nervous, but save for that I made it through intact without a single baboon even moving. Brett casually followed at a very relaxed pace. Etu Brett?

It’s clear to me that mountain biking dislikes me as much as I dislike it. It offers me absolutely no respite. I have to dress like a wally, interact with drug cheats who can cycle up hills, sit on a saddle no bigger than a walnut while wearing a helmet that makes me look like the world’s biggest magic mushroom, be able to use my thumbs and fingers at the same time in order to change gears, interact with nature and after all that I am still supposed to smile and high five Brett and say, “Wooohooo! What a workout buddy! How awesome was that?”

It could be worse. I could be doing it alone. Whoever said that misery loves company was spot on. Every time I think that I can’t take another step while pushing my bike I just look at Brett and feel better. I can’t give up.
Well, not until I have got Brett back for the whole baboon thing.


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