I was at Dalbeattie a few weeks ago, before the weather turned nasty, attempting to ride the highly rated red-route.


If only I could have done that. Pic by Benji Haworth.

When I say attempting – I mean trying to flow through the rocky trails and breeze through the drop-offs and technical sections – but failing miserably to do so. Tortoise would have been the perfect name for me that day, as I tentatively approached every upcoming obstacle and spent more time carrying my bike that I did on it.

My inability to ride certain features doesn’t really bother me – I know my limits and my boundaries and I’m happy sticking within them – but every now and again I think I should be testing myself.

Anyone who’s ever been to Dalbeattie, even some of you who haven’t, will know ‘The SLAB’ – the famous 15 meter long weather grooved granite obstacle – which looked 100 feet high to my tentative eyes. Some riders will have gone down it in a blur of colour, others with a finger constantly on the brake and some, like me, will have looked at it and thought “If I try that I’m going to die!”

But I’ve been thinking about the Slab recently.

Had I tried it, I might have made it down without injury – hundreds of people have done. If I had mastered the rock, then I believe my riding would have received a huge confidence boost and the small, rocky obstacles which cause me difficulty would now be viewed as mild deterrents that I would be able to overcome with ease.

Even if I failed, maybe it is better to have tried and fallen than never to have tried at all. My confidence would not have suffered as a result of a fall and any injury sustained would have been for a worthy reason.

I haven’t taken a big risk in a while and I’m beginning to see that I’m not improving as a rider in the same way that perhaps I should be. The sections of trail that I struggled with when I first started, still prove awkward and bothersome now. A good, progressive rider would not have that same difficulty.

So I’m going to go back to Dalbeattie shortly. I’m going to get some body armour as a precaution, but I’ll be there until I get the better of that Slab – or until it gets the better of me..

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