A combo of howling wind and darkness when my alarm went off at 6am start had me seriously questioning the logic of getting up to ride my bike, especially as what I was going to do was fall off multiple times as learn how to ride.
Not serious questioning on a philosophical level, obviously more through the medium of obscenities. That said, by the end of my jaunt that included ascending a vicious chalky trail at the side of Box Hill, I was happily recapping the ride in a Surrey pub to anyone who would listen whilst polishing off a rack of lamb. I was fully immersed in the off-road experience.
My trail ride took me from Leatherhead down through the Surrey greens to the first climb up to the top of Ranmore Common. Along the top I came across a horse, with rider aloft. I instantly froze unsure of the etiquette when off road. The rider turned and told me to keep talking; I was bemused but did so.
“Hi, how are you? Should I come past of wait for a signal?”
The rider replied “It is quite mild today, isn’t it?”
I was quite unsure where this conversation was going, was our jockey just lonely and wanted a chat?
“Yes?” I picked my voice up to try to show a tone of confusion. I think it registered because the rider’s reply explained it all.
“Horses like humans, when they hear your voice, they know a human is around. If you just bumble up to a horse on your bike, they are instantly nervous. To them you are silent just a machine. They can’t figure out what you are. So, a bit of talking settles them down and they know your not a threat, you just a human.”
Another lesson learnt. I passed the horse, trouble free and I was off down the other side of the climb at Westhumble. Oh, the early start was not my idea, everyone else’s.
Why do cyclists start so early? Maybe it was so we could be done by lunch and beat the queues to the Docking’s finest bitter?
The road to Cape Epic 2012
Claire and Collyn will be taking to the start line of the gruelling and challenging Absa Cape Epic, an eight day mountain bike stage race around the wilds of South Africa. They’ll be charting their preparation here on Bikemagic.com will weekly updates.