Monday Morning Debrief No.9

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This weekend was mainly about shoulders with a bit of ankle thrown in for good measure.

The best bit of ‘extreme’ sports is the slow battle of attrition via the medium of injury. This week’s ride saw two recovering collarbones and a recovering popped ankle amongst the five riders who met at Café Cali, so it was only natural we’d head out on a tech ride. If you’ve fallen off the horse you get straight back on right?

In keeping with any ride that is just the right side of ‘awesome’ we hardly stopped to take photos, or indeed remember we had a GoPro; too wrapped up in the moment or something is my excuse. Next time I’ll write ‘take photos’ on my bars in an Akrigg style.

Barney surfs the brown pow

Straight into the climb up Horsehold, then in typical Calderdale style straight back down to the valley floor; we’re on a no contouring ride. Sim falls victim to a leaf hidden hole on a steep descent within the first 50 metres of offroad that results in a nasty fall onto some chunky rocks, narrowly missing the soft pile of leaf litter next to them. Everyone’s quiet for a moment while we wait to see if he’s getting up. The result is a new damaged shoulder and collective fear about deadline week if he can’t manage to lift his arm by Monday.

When an Art Director falls somewhere, a little bird dies.

When we reach the canal at the end of the first trail Sim limps off home for an early bath and we head straight into the second climb of the day. Another steep one up followed by another plummet down and a quick bit of road to get us over onto Jack Bridge. I’m feeling slightly cheated by the lack of snow but at least the going is only ‘mulchy’ now the trails are drying slightly.

One more Up! gets us high on the other side of the valley and we need to decide on a way back down. Figuring we’ve had a lot of rain which usually means scoured rock I propose the usually greasy Stanny’s. It kind of pays off. Dropping into the start of the trail is hard and fast compared to usual conditions. Then it’s a lovely full-on rockfest that proves surprisingly grippy compared to typical summer conditions.

I’m quite pleased with how well the Highball rolls through the stuttery rock sections, much better than my previous attempts and no doubt aided by the 140mm of travel and stiffer wheelset I’m running on it. I’m too busy thinking about my strapped up ankle to commit 100% though as I can’t get rid of the niggling thought of having to clip out quickly if it all goes wrong and the potential to pop it again on the uneven surface I’m negotiating.

As we hit tarmac at the bottom there’s time for one more drop (isn’t there always?) before the gentle wind down on the way back to the Café.  Legs are feeling suitably burnt, ankle is still in one piece, we’ll consider that one a win then.

Sometimes they play the blues...

…meanwhile, Chipps was rocking people’s faces off at Hebden Bridge’s Trades Club on Saturday night with his band ‘campersand’. Sunday was spent in a more traditional pastime of riding up great big hills repeatedly and then going home for sausage and mash. Here’s Singletrack reader Steve John out on a trip round the Valley with Chipps and co.

There's a trail there somewhere


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