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IMG_2647IMG_2602It’s been over a year since I last rode the wooden slats at Herts Shore. Not to say that Ive be inactive on the cycling front but I knew Herts would be testing the skills that had laid dormant for far to long. The bike was mule packed for it’s trip down south and the weather was looking promising. There was to be no excuse to ride the skinnies.

My late arrival meant riding was done and dusted as I cycled up the dirt track. The camp fire was on full bore and the encircling benches where full of fresh faces and shore veterens. Welcoming hand shacks, sarcastic remarks (note pink helmet) and a beer pushed into my hand. Im home 🙂

My 50p tour with Tony UK Bike Skills showed that they had been busy. New wooden lines and an array of skills loops, dirt jumps and smooth kickers. Evolution in progress.

Time to throw a pallet on the fire and get this party started. The beers flowed and the chat brought up memories of rides and trips gone by. More beers and a few explosions lightened a dark star filled sky. 2am and the crew was wilting down. Tents soon filled with snoring occupants but the hardy few remained around the fire. Tired intoxicated eyes stared into natures TV and its warmth kept the 4am chill at bay but bed time called and the last stand ended.

IMG_26436.am and the morning sun was warming the bivvy bag. 7.am and I now have to vacate the sleeping oven. Time for a walk. Herts has adopted a new pet. The sky above the Shore was being patrolled by not the usual buzzards but by a magnificent Red Kite. His Forked tail and angled wings searched out the early morning thermals and possibly his breakfast.

Time to done my Giro helmet, soften the tubeless tyres and slowly get into the North Shore groove. A different bike, wider handlebars and a slacker head angle resulted in a little breaking in time but slowly it all came back to me. It’s the flow I seek. The feeling of effortless control. The skills required to ride shore I was glad to say was still with me and I soon made my way up and over Paul’s Skinny. Private smiles beamed from my face.

My hard tail mountain bike meant that I was to remain on the wood for my weekend back at Herts Shore. The invite to ride a Demo 9 on the drops and jumps was carefully considered but after riding the beast over a series of small jumps and doubles I diplomatically declined their offer and remained on the shore. The shore gave me what I wanted. I had been looking forward to the controlled and calm skill of riding 2″ or 3″ strips of wood. I enjoyed the feeling of rescuing a wobbly moment not by looking for the quick bail or exit but by squeezing against the brakes, adjusting hip and body position and riding myself back onto the line and the exit. No room for panic on the shore. indecisiveness will get you and your bike into trouble. Be sure of yourself and be positive and the results will have you brimming with belief and confidence. By the end of the day we had an old school session riding the Tree Line. Me, Tony, Nick, Paul and Nath rode and railed a classic natural line. Good times.

We had our own private concerts around the fire on Sunday night. After a banquet of pizza and beers we where treated to a musical masterclass as Krystal and Pete Guy entertained us all as we perched on the shore and filled the seats around the fire.

IMG_2634Monday morning and home time but not before a little bit of maintenance on the shore. The Shimmer Ladder was a little worse for wear and needed a make over so after and bit of sawing, hammering and nailing another section of rejuvenated shore awaited. I packed the bike for my return to Yorkshire and said my goodbyes. As I sat on the train smelling of campfire smoke and desperately needing a shower (sorry to the passengers around me) I reflected on the fondness I left behind. Even though my hands ached, my shoulders and neck were sore and my ears and fore arms sunburnt, I missed the old days and long to make sure my next visit is not so long in the making.