Remember when you were a kid? How you loved running around and playing in random places? How you would get covered in dirt? How rain was an excuse to jump in puddles and get covered in slush? How it all felt so carefree and happy?
Well good for you. ‘Cos I have no memories of that at all. I always hated getting wet in rain, hated squelchy socks, hated muddy shoes. In fact, I have no clue what all the fuss about getting wet in the rain and jumping in puddles is all about.
Correction – I had no clue what that was all about.
In the lead-up to the last BBCh XC race, a trail had to be chosen and marked (naturally). So, ditching my favourite Turahalli one overcast morning, I made my way to Sarjapur to meet the lads outside Decathlon. Having had a good ol’ piss-up the previous night, I woke up late and frantically rushed to make the 7 a.m. deadline. Of course, experience should’ve taught me that being late is never a problem with a certain crew.
I was nearly there when a couple of phone calls were exchanged and I found out that the rest hadn’t even left BOTS. As it turns out, Rohan overslept, Modi was late and Karan somehow ran out of petrol on the way there.
By the time we assembled and hit the trail, it was 8.
The first stretch of the trail was nice, uneven and slightly technical even though it was just hardpack. We knew this would somewhat thin the herd. After that, we hit the long stretch next to the tracks. Halfway down this was a huge ‘puddle’. Only way around this was to carry your bike up the railway track rise and set it down after. We got our first taste of muddy shoes here. And it wouldn’t be the last.
Kalkat rode up front on his R15. It actually did a pretty decent job through all the mud. Of course, the man did take pleasure in thoroughly ploughing up all the mud so we poor mtbeers would slip and slide (and fall) our way through it.
Half a kilometre later, I took my first toss. And it felt utterly ridiculous. I wasn’t even riding. I had stopped at a massive muddy section, got off the bike and took a step forward, carefully planting my leg on ‘solid’ ground. It moved. I slipped, regained my balance and slipped again, landing smack dab in the muck with my bike on top of me. It was one of those kiddie movie moments when a guy slips and slides across the ice only to flip and fall hard. Ridiculous, embarrassing and so funny that even I saw the humour in it and spent the next few minutes laughing at myself.
Lesson learnt – stay on the bike at all times. Your tyres are more trustworthy than your damn feet!
In about half an hour, everyone had taken slips and falls and legs and arms were muddied galore.
Then we reached a mini-lake which stretched a good 30 meters down the trail. Since Karan was the most enthu of the lot, we let him try it. Try swimming it that is. Within 5 pedal strokes, he was off his bike in squelching mud and water which reached halfway to his knee.
This stretch was thereby christened ‘Karan’s Crossing’
Someway down the trail we hit a massive mucky section which looked rather vile. Stepping into some green ooze wasn’t really an option. So, we threw down some branches and leaves and decided to try a crossing. And I am happy to report that I was the only one who made it across. Of course, the lads did threaten to throw me in once I got to the other side but that’s a different story.
Many kilometres and two hours later, we hit the road again. We had long since abandoned any pretence at trying to be clean. Bikes were covered in muck and riders even more so.
Somewhere along the way, I stopped feeling the water in my shoes, the mud on my face, the crap clogging my drivetrain, the wet clothes and the soggy socks.
Somewhere along the way, I started aiming at mud and trying to hit water. I started having fun.
It was a gloriously, filthy experience and I was happy as a pig in shit!
I now finally know what it is to be grubby and love it – a few decades late but well worth the wait.