Knee pads

We’re at Betws-y-coed, riding the Marin trail on a damp Monday afternoon. It’s the final leg of Alex’s stag weekend, which has involved the fantastic Penmachno trails, gorge walking, a crazy tree-top adventure, a parachute simulator and the odd pint of local ale, amongst other things.

We roll off the fire-road and into the final descent. Simon first, then Brett, me, Anton, Alex and Matt. Si sets off in his usual style: like an ICBM aimed at the far end of the trail. The rest of us roll in behind him, pedalling like maniacs to try and keep up.

We’re moving down the singletrack at ludicrous speed. It’s big, wet, rocky stuff. Properly rocky. North Wales rocky. It gets to the point where I have to back off a bit because my forks aren’t working very well I’m getting really quite scared.

We arrive at a particularly evil off-camber corner with a really rough run-in. Si has a big moment on the way through and stops a bit further up. Brett gets it wrong on the way in and has to really wrestle the bike around. I get all slidey going through the corner but manage to hold it together. Anton goes one better, losing the front wheel on the wet rocks and going down hard.

He bounces straight back up looking more or less unscathed, but for some reason he’s saying “That’s not good. That’s really not good.”

I look him up and down and can’t see what’s wrong. Then I look at his bike, which seems to be in one piece. I’m about to congratulate him on a spectacular crash when he lifts up the leg of his shorts to reveal the gash in his knee.

I can see his kneecap.

That’s really quite unpleasant.

Several stitches later, he’s off the bike for a few weeks while it heals up.

Earlier that day, when we were getting changed into our biking kit, he put his shoes on before realising he hadn’t put on his knee pads. “Ah bugger it” he said, and didn’t bother.

4 Responses to “Knee pads”

1. Tim


First time we went to Afan, we were sat in the drop-off cafe watching the riders come in when one of our number piped up – “do you think we need body armour – they are all wearing it”

Hadnt even crossed my mind until that point – luckily no-one went down hard enough to warrant it.

Might dig out and bastardise my old hard knox pads :-)

2. Tom

Don’t be such a wuss Tim. If you go to any trail centre everyone is wearing body armour mostly for the reason they topple over at the speed they travel.
I’ve got a fat knee from last night in a heavy fall but it doesn’t make me think I should put my pads on. They are for doing specifically silly things or uplift days.

3. gordon

reminds me of a time i decided to leave the full facer in the car at fort william!

4. Olly

To be fair you were heading out on the cross-country trail. I bet the world cup XC racers don’t wear full-facers around there.

Then again, I guess the XC racers don’t dive face-first into the rocks either ;)