On the weekend I had the good fortune to find myself out riding with the ‘Might contain nuts’ team. Matt and Barry organise ultra races, advise and sell outdoor kit and generally spend a lot of time doing fun/hard things outside. I’ve known Matt for quite a few years. All too infrequently we hook up, do something silly and collapse in a heap afterwards. The last time we met, I knocked myself out in the Forest of Dean (literally). The time before that we were 2/3rd’s of team ‘Les Chimay trois’ – Julian Carter being team member number 3 – finishing 5th at the Bristol Rat race, a two day adventure racing event (in itself, a long story). On this occasion, blessed with some beautiful winter weather, we headed off into the Mid-Wales hills for a blast across the moors.
There were 5 of us all told, three on cross bikes (Matt, Steve and myself), Barry on a full susser and Martin Jones equipped with what appeared to be a pre-1990 hard-tail mountain bike, complete with pannier rack and pre-1950s( 🙂 ) rucksack lashed to it. The terrain was a mix of lumpy hills, deeply rutted moorland and winding single track roads, favouring all three bike types at various times. It was a ride that answered searching existential questions. Quite often I wonder why I still go out and batter myself regularly. I mean…….what is it all about? I’ve sailed past 40, have left my golden age of athletic activity somewhere back in the late 90s and have a busy professional and family life. Then I go out , hook up with some mates, ride like an idiot and come back with an enormous grin on my face. There. All philosophical debates answered by grinding gears and a torrent of lactic acid. And so it was with this ride. Flowing descents, jangly ruts, big skies, great company, silly crashes, earthly heaven. To top it all off, after 4.5 hours of riding and with body parts encased in permafrost, we wind up back at Matt and Sue’s lovely cottage consuming curry and Belgian beer. It really doesn’t get better than that.
As a footnote, I must give special mention to Martin and his 1980s hard-tail. Like many of us, Martin commutes every day to work. Like very few of us, Martin clocks up 52 miles a day, EVERYDAY, come rain or shine (commuting from the Brecon Beacons to Pontypool. It’s not even flat for heaven sake). Then on the weekend………he might go for a ride. So after completing all the hills and the moorland stuff, we had roughly 6 miles of road to cover in dwindling light. Martin absolutely steam rollered it, Matt and I pulled along in his wake. Who said knobbly tyres don’t roll well? ‘Because THEY ARE LYING. They roll bloody well under Martin. Respect is due to that man. I’m going to delegate a description of how we tried to cope with those burning legs to Tour De France veteran and pain sufferer par-excellence , Jens Voigt. Say it again, Jens…..
Might contain nuts organise adventure races, sell quality, road tested outdoor kit and provide help and advice for the adventure racing community. They’ll even ensure you get a royal pasting on the bike. You can access their website here.