Busiest day in the Forest of Dean of 2015, according to the lady in the Round Tuit at Mallards Pike as she handed me a hot bacon roll and a polystyrene cup of tea.
There were about ten people visible in total, I suppose but hey, maybe she’d been rushed off her feet earlier and anyway, it’s all relative isn’t it?
That magic low winter sun was already sinking when we got there at 2.30pm lighting everything up in glorious russet. The reds of the Forest soil, the stones and the dried bracken all worked in perfect harmony.
There was thin mud, thick mud, shallow mud, deep mud, mud with stones and mud with timber. Mud has to be tackled at speed. He who hesitates is…whoooaaaa… in the gloop. But it’s sometimes interesting to find out what’s underneath it all. Hopefully not a huge hole. 🙂
Earlier, a couple of technical problems had threatened to sabotage my plans.
I had new Crud Catchers for the mountain bike. I attached the one on the down tube no problem – a couple of rubber bands were provided. The one for the rear was more of a puzzle. It had an attachment which was supposed to fix around the seatpost but no way of unscrewing the screw. There was just a weird-shaped hole. No screwdriver or Allen key fitted so I had to leave it and send a message to Mr Crud asking him why he made it so tricky to fit his catcher.
My back tyre was a bit squishy and even Joe Blow couldn’t seem to get much air in there. As I disconnected the nozzle, the Shraeder valve was hissing a bit. There was no time to faff about changing the inner tube so I screwed the dust cap on extra-firmly and hoped for the best.
Consequently, I got my rear end covered in mud and my rear tyre was a bit soft but otherwise it was lovely to be back out in the Forest. Oh and I wore the wrong gloves – the high-vis Jazz Hands gloves weren’t warm enough. Also, I didn’t wear enough under my jacket because the windchill penetrated more than expected and I could have done with a scarf around my mouth to protect against the cold but otherwise everything was hunky dory, honestly!
Tonking down the trail towards Mallards Pike we saw men running with tree trunks on their shoulders. That’s a first. They were in the exact same spot where we once saw a segway expedition in full swing – only they weren’t (mercifully) swinging. They were standing bolt upright and looking catatonic in quite at 1960’s bad sci-fi film kind of way. Bizarre.
The log relay looked much less worrying. But there’s usually something going on in the Forest. Last time there was a sled dog meet right in the middle of the woodland and the time before that, a marathon race.
As I was munching my bacon roll – I noticed the wild boar burgers on the menu too late – Mrs Round Tuit said she was looking forward to February 14th.
Expecting a Valentine?
“No, it’s the Wyedean Rally. We do well that day – busiest day of the whole year!”
I remembered the cloud of blue exhaust fumes which hung over the central Forest and the deafening noise of cars tearing up the tracks. I’ll be giving that one a miss.
Arrived home as the sun was setting with just enough time before dark to blast all the mud off the bike with the garden hose and take it into the kitchen for the dry and lube. It’s still there now, leaning against the pew, sparkly clean again. It’s quite lovely.