It’s the middle of the night. It’s cold; I can see my breath on the air. Yet here we are, deep in the forest, cutting a swathe through the blanket of leaves. The three of us, lights burning away the darkness, tyres slicing through the singletrack.
We reach the shrine and stop for a breather. The trails are fun from here on down. Garry pedals off into the dark, followed by Brett. I ride down after them, with nothing but the the noise and the glowing red beacons on their backs to follow. The trail soon cleaves in two, Garry going to the right, Brett and myself the left. Brett loses the path within three corners and slows in a cloud of branches, leaves and swearing. I spy G’s lights through the darkness and set a course for where I think he’s heading.
I’d never do this during the day. I can’t see the dangers now though, so I just straight line it, ragged as hell.
I’m really moving now, leaves and twigs cracking below me, ducking and diving through the overhanging branches. WHOA! Hop the front wheel over the fallen tree and let the back of the bike clatter through. Really must learn some technique one of these days. Not now though, I’m gaining on Garry.
BOOSH! I’m back on the trail! Keep it going, stay with him, up here, around the tree, dive down, now pedal like a bastard. Pump through the dip, then hard left, then ARGH! I’M BLIND! Brett and his powerful lights are coming in on a collision course. I’m not having that though, a couple of extra pedal strokes and I get in ahead of him. I’m right on G’s tail now.
WAHEY! His back wheel steps out on a root, but he carries it off as if nothing’s happened. I hit the same root, and the same thing happens. Keep it loose, no problem.
Next corner, Garry cuts in tight and he’s through, smooth as silk. I can take it tighter though. Lean it in, get off the brakes and BOOSH! High-side! The back wheel catches a root, leaps sideways and tries to overtake the front. Garry disappears off into the dark. Brett cuts inside and is past. I’m left jumping awkwardly across the trail, straddling the bike.
The chase is lost.
Next time, G-Dog. Next time.