The Curly Cyclist - The Dead End
It doesn’t always mean going far. It can be just around the corner. The word adventure means something different to everyone. Hiking across mountainous pathways, travelling to countries you’ve only ever heard about on TV, or swimming the length of the Thames River. For me, an adventure begins from the moment I step outside with my bike. Mountain biking for me is road cycling with no restriction.
Left onto the main road. They love a traffic light or two in Girona. Stopping and starting. There’s a completely different feel with acceleration on the Giant XTC. You can feel the transfer of power from your upper body, through to the frame. A little goes a long way.
Taking another left at the roundabout, cars coming from all directions. It pays to be a dominant cyclist here, there’s no room for hesitation. Hold your line before the cars take it. A couple of streets down I turn onto a busy pathway. Linking the outskirts to the main city. This small village cares for itself. With the sun beaming down, the smell of manure and dust is overwhelming. There’s a faint sound of chatter. As I continue to ride I can see two farmers digging into a small plot of land. Sweat dripping from their faces, their clothes ingrained with dirt, and hands dry as a bone. Their appearance isn’t a reflection of their work. They take pride in their work, with every plant placed so precisely and with such attention to detail.
The further you go, the more you see. The sounds disappear behind you and the feeling of solitary beckons, as the first stretch of forest approaches, but there’s a rush of adrenaline. I know it sounds silly, but I pretend that this short stretch of riding will be the riding that decides my career as a cyclist. This is a race against time, I’ve dropped everyone, the camera, the crowds, all eyes on me. The crowds are roaring. It’s the most hectic and exciting ride of all, but the trail has never been so quiet! My eyes start to sting as sweat drips under my glasses. My legs burn and my breathing accelerates. ‘If only this were a Strava segment‘
Out of breath and sweating. I can feel the redness of my cheeks. Let’s hope no one sees me now, I don’t think I’d be able to ‘HOLA‘ right now.
The forest thickens. My breathing slowly returns to normal, but my heart is still beating rapidly. This is where things get exciting. It’s a new trail for me, a turning with no signpost. It’s littered with branches and broken trees from the heavy wind and rain last week. Everything tells me, ‘go to the usual route‘, but sometimes I just think ‘screw it‘, what have I got to lose? If it’s too tough to ride? I turn back. If it leads to a creepy house? I turn back at full speed. Simple!
My skills as a mountain biker aren’t the best. I learnt to ride on a mountain bike but quickly fell for road cycling. So, sometimes it feels like I’m having to completely relearn all of the skills needed for off-road. The path is slippery. Leaves, bark, potholes line the trail for as far as I can see up ahead. At this point, I can’t even hear the sounds of the birds. There’s nothing. I try not to think about it too much so I can focus on bunny hopping over the many obstacles. Mountain biking is not only a very physical sport, but it also requires an endless amount of mental will power and concentration too. My legs are switched to autopilot as my mind is going full gas.
I ride further and further down this trail. Until I begin to hear something up ahead. It sounds like water. Fast flowing water. All senses kick in. The ground starts to dampen. The sound intensifies. I spot something to my left out of the corner of my eye. I continue on until I finally reach a dead-end. A waterfall. Rushing water sweeps everything in its path and drops into a clear, sparkling river. It flows right through the forest. The sound of birds returns. The smell is similar to that of the moment just before it rains in the UK. I respond to the view with a simple sigh. A sigh of happiness nonetheless. When you ignore all of the boundaries, nature always provides. This ride was no longer than 20km out. Proving you don’t always have to cross borders to find your adventure.
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