Cam MTB - the Cambridge Mountain Bikers' Forum

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DISCLAIMER. MOUNTAIN BIKING CAN BE DANGEROUS. YOU JOIN US AT YOUR OWN RISK.

SAFETY BRIEFING.

  • Wear a helmet. Despite recent advances in medical science, brains still cannot be mended nor replaced.
  • Wear gloves or mitts. Hands often hit the ground first. Cuts and grazes invite infection and a hospital visit.
  • Wear eye protection, it only takes a twig or thorn to lose an eye. Crud catchers are a good idea in mucky weather.
  • When downhilling, for your own protection, allow plenty of space behind the rider in front.
  • Bring a bare minimum emergency tool kit and a spare inner tube.
  • Breakdowns are a bore. Plan not to have any by ensuring your bike is in perfect working order.
  • Punctures are also tedious. You can minimise them by fitting latex tubes, slime tubes or running tubeless tyres.

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Why do we do it?

Words of Natureboy

Congratulations! The very fact you’re reading this is a good indication you’ve avoided an evolutionary dead end that is unfolding before our eyes. The clues are out there that the human species has split and is following two distinct paths; one based indoors separated from all natural influences and experiences, the other we shall call ‘the outdoor path of the righteous’.
I’ve noticed clues to this divergence over the past few years. Take our first bivvy trip where we introduced Sim to the art of sleeping rough with a purpose. As we walked into our mid-trip pub we experienced the kind of rubbernecking interest from the Saturday night crowd previously reserved for southerners, freakshow inhabitants and visitors from other planets. The idea of sleeping on the moors for fun was so totally alien a concept that the bar propping drinkers were convinced we were winding them up. But why would you sleep outside when there’s a bed and a roof waiting for you? Inside. You should be inside.
Fast forward to a day at work. I’m taking part in a team-building day for a government agency, there to help out the trainer leading the session. We’re in woodland in an urban park. The ‘team’ have left their cars in the car park and walked ten minutes to a glen where they are expected to build shelter, light a fire and cook a meal. It’s not going well. We have to step in to help get the fire started otherwise we’re all going hungry and I really need a brew. After some struggle the shelter is built, but if anyone sneezes it might not last. I’m secretly glad this is ending before we have to test the set up overnight. When debrief time comes there’s a unifying theme from the feedback we receive; while enjoying the day and coming to terms with smelling of wood smoke, people have felt wary of spending time in the wild. “The wild” – their words. Let’s just go over the facts again. We’re in a park. Five minutes drive from the town centre. In a park. Ten minutes walk from their cars. We’ve spent the whole time in view of people
walking their dogs. I sigh inwardly.
The final WTF? nail in the coffin comes on Saturday 25th October as the 2008 OMM is cancelled due to a bit of weather and the media feeding frenzy begins. Experienced competitors, fully equipped for a couple of nights out on the fells, happy to carry on in the face of an incoming storm have control and responsibility for their decisions taken out of their hands. It’s the lead story on all channels. 1500 people lost on the hills in ‘treacherous weather conditions’. They all might die! They’re going to have to spend a night out on the fells! Can’t anybody save them from themselves? What were the organisers thinking? A bit of orienteering, mountain marathon style is being discussed on the TV and radio and described as an extreme sport. An extreme sport? Running with a tent on your back around the well populated, and fairly tame, let’s face it, Lake District.
The only people capable of dropping sports such as this into the ‘extreme’ pigeonhole are those that are so divorced from the outdoors that they can no longer comprehend what experiences such as these mean. So the media peddles its exaggerated hyperbole happily confirming to the watching sofa dwellers that it’s better to stick to the central heated, air conditioned, manicured, saccharine lifestyle of shopping mall and theme park than run the risk of discomfort and dirt that lies beyond. The blind feeding the blind.
“Stay at home. Stay safe. Don’t go out; it rains there. Don’t go out, it’s cold. Be careful you might get dirty. Better to watch others outside, on the other side of the screen… Ray Mears, Bear Ghrylls on TV providing a safe form of hardship; no effort required. Second hand satisfaction of self reliance without the need to expend any effort. And here’s a word from our sponsors.”
Would this have been reported like this back when people still had a connection with nature in their daily lives? I don’t think so. Cook, Shackleton, Hilary must all be spinning in their graves. They knew real hardship; they ran real risks. They were heroes whose exploits were celebrated in the national press. Not treated like some sidelined outcast madmen.
It doesn’t take much to separate ourselves from the dark side. It can be as easy as going out for a ride. Being able to cope with a bit of weather and discomfort. The appreciation of warmth that comes after a chilly day in the saddle. The taste of food when you’ve actually done something to build up an appetite. The satisfaction of doing something that’s left you physically tired. Simple pleasures: appreciating the feel of being alive.
It doesn’t take a lot. But it’s a special feeling. Make the most of it next time you head out the door.
Natureboy


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