I had an evening ride last night at Aston Hill (4-8pm) to get some practice in for the upcoming race weekend in September. Nice and quiet other than a few guys doing the red and XC loop. Towards the end of the evening, around 7ish, I hadn't seen or heard another rider for a good hour so had assumed I was all on my own so decided to put a couple of last practice runs in down the black. Now for those who haven't ridden at Aston Hill, the start of the black run ( first 20 seconds) is also part of the red run and the entrance to another DH trail.
So, off I toddle as fast as I can/dare when suddenly coming up the trail just as I exit a sweeping left hand berm is one of the CX guys. I slam on my brakes but can't avoid hitting him and we both collide and I, as I was carrying more speed, hit the deck pretty hard. He stays up right but gets a good smack from me and my bike. I winded myself, hit my face inside my helmet and got a dead arm but other than a few cuts and bruises I was ok. He was ok other than having the wind taken out of him but his bike ended up with buckled front wheel and bent brake disc and split brake hose. My bike, other than some superficial scratches, being a burly DH bike was fine.
After getting over the initial shock I stood up and he was just stood there and immediately said to me "no need for that is there?" I just grunted a "what?". "Bombing down there like that, what do you expect mate?" On this occasion I Immediately reacted badly, feeling Battered, bruised and shocked at his reaction and said angrily something along the lines of "your going the wrong way up a DH trail. All the trails go one way, all you will ever come across is downhillers gong this way at speed!" He still then had the audacity to say that just because its a DH run I should still ride "respectfully" and cautiously and asked what I would have done had I come across a dog on the trail.
The argument ran for about 10 minutes with me trying to explain that it was a DH park with one way trails, where dogs are not allowed designed for paying downhillers to ride as fast as they wish. He wasn't having any of it and finished by saying that he could quite easily sue me for the damage to his bike.
I was fuming but more or less let it go but I've wondered today is that what trail centres have created? This idea that you constantly have to ride all the time, wherever you are, below your best on the off chance you may come across something or someone? Surely a DH specific park ( exactly what Aston is) with short but fast DH trails is somewhere where mountain bikers can ride at whatever speed they wish? Do we constantly have to limit ourselves all the time on the off chance.....