There’s probably an ideal ride length. Someone cleverer than me could doubtless concoct a formula that builds in all the variables. Available time before next domestic appointment. Trail conditions. Weather. Availability of riding buddies. Mood. Time since last ride. Calorific value of nourishment to be found rattling around in the bottom of the Camelbak. And so on.
However, despite having given it little thought, I reckon I’ve set nothing less than a new world record: ten minutes. Yes, really. A ten minute ride: just perfect. Not too short, not too long, and crammed full of trail loveliness.
It was a couple of weeks ago. The sun was shining. I had a bit of time to spare and so, fortuitously, did my mate Ady. We set off down the hill from Ady’s house, and within a couple of minutes we were spinning up the short, rocky, technical climb that leads to the start of the ‘all trails begin here’ Signpost of Choice.
It being a lovely day with sun-baked, hardpacked conditions under tyre, it would’ve been rude not to have taken the Twin Brooks option: a five or six minute flat-out, undulating and sporadically rocky singletrack descent with added technical brook crossings. Sure enough, it was riding beautifully. And so, not to put too fine a point on it, was I. Reunited with one of my favourite bikes of the last decade, I led out Ady on his spanking new bike and pedalled. My. Arse. Off.
Pump. Float. Pedal. Coast. Pump. Repeat.
It all came to an ignominious end when I decided to try a new line through the first brook crossing, messed it up and snapped the rear mech hanger on a conveniently placed rock. Arse.
But were we downhearted? Were we fuck. That had been the best five minutes’ descending I could remember, on a trail that I’ve ridden hundreds of times over the years. And, as we pushed back up the hill to Ady’s house for a celebratory beer, it occurred to me that we’d rediscovered the Whole Point of riding: quality, not quantity.
This article first published in Cranked #17