Bloodied, bruised, battered – exaggerated?

Bloodied, bruised, battered – exaggerated?
Kalamunda, Australia

Kalamunda, Australia

A map, taken from my GPS, of my mountain-biking
Kalamunda mountain biking trail.

Ouch, everybody, Pegs is trying to kill me!

I did warn you there might be exaggeration ahead (but while there’s moonlight…). For any 26.2 friends reading who haven’t noticed on Facebook, I’m lucky enough to be staying with our departed friends, the Pengellys. Or Pegellys, as Aimee used to call them, though the nickname predates that charming mispronunciation by many years. Andrew’s gentle yet firm imprecations once he realised I was heading for Australia made it clear I would be welcome, overcoming my natural reticence to freeload (much). And how I have overcome them – I’ve stayed for a week and am here for another one. Long enough to make sure they’ll be glad to be shot of visitors in time for Christmas.

Perth is a ‘doing things’ kind of a place, so come the weekend, come the things. Saturday was parkrun day, of course, with another at Claisebrook Coves to come next weekend. Maybe my nemesis Fordyce will be there – he didn’t run this weekend, too busy with the cricket, presumably. At least England’s meltdown has created plenty of demand for articles for the press pack. On Sunday the three Pengelly males (Andrew, Matthew and Luca) and I went mountain biking in the Kalamunda hills. The tracks criss cross the hills, with plenty of trails to draw people in, as well as the 1,000km long Mulla Bindi (spelling is wrong) trail that heads down to the south. Plenty of room for groups of bikers, and we paused to let several pass.

I was the novice, though Luca was relatively new to it. He’s also significantly younger, so has the disadvantage of having several years fewer muscle growth. My advice to you, should you have nerves about heading out on an activity, take a youngster with you; if they pause at any point you get a rest without having to ask for one. We climbed a trail, which was probably my favourite activity of the day. A challenge, without the “this thing will go faster if I take my hands off the brakes, but…” feeling I had descending.

Me, on a mountain bike
Final ride. See the grit around the chin? Held in place with blood, that.

But the point of climbing is to descend. Carmela had suggested skiing as the nearest analogous sport, with a climb leading to a relatively effort-free descent, where concentration and control are needed. I’ve certainly no better comparison, but I much prefer the biking. My problem with skiing has always been that the bit you want to do-descend – is punctuated by transportation. A bit like going for a run but being forced to get on a bus for a ride every few minutes. The bus is stopping me doing what I actually want to. Though there have been runs where a bus ride would have been very welcome. Descend we did. Down Judderbars first, with jumps (optional) and bumps (not so much), my arms knew I’d been on something other than a flat track. That segued straight into Albany, which needed concentration but not so much that I could prevent my head from going “Albany, do-be-do, I’m in love with you” all the way down. All. The. Way. Down.

One more trek and then we were onto the Scorpion descent; “The Real McCoy”, Pegs said, with swooping u-shaped boardwalks on which you need some speed, the more speed, the more you can lean the bike. We whizzed down, I made it round the boardwalks (bottled one, rode off the bottom onto the flat) and opted out of the log crossing. I’m kind of glad I had, as the trail went off to the left, while the log continued straight on, as would I had I not been off to the right, I’m sure. After crossing one more track, letting everyone close up again and acknowledging other riders’ “how ya going?” as they flew past, we were onto the last descent, which was dusty and excellently tree lined. Luca had taken a tumble but bravely made it down without complaint, so Pegs took him back to The Dell (all these names seem sensible when you’re there) while Matthew and I went up ‘Lube Me Up’ and back to the top of the Scorpion. This was not quite the high octane thrill it might usually be for Matthew, but he didn’t seem to mind waiting for me to check I’d made it through sections in one piece. Seeing him there made me think too hard about the log, and I got halfway across before deciding ‘no’. Better, at least. This time I made it round all the boardwalks, though not at great speed, and onto that final section. I’m sure someone, possibly several, have said it to me before, but here I was really seeing it for myself-a mountain bike on a dusty track is just like the view from a speeder bike on Endor (would be). Wonderful.

Filled with those thoughts I was grinning now, and onto the last gravelly section. Not that quick, but quicker than I could hack, and I came off. Not quite sure how, hitting a bump and letting the front wheel turn, probably, but I managed to graze parts of both legs and arms. I protected the vulnerable/shock absorbing because that’s the point palms of my hands, in favour of sliding on my right arm for a while before making the split-second decision to arrest momentum with my chin.

Picture of my arm, with some graze marks
Slid on this arm. Before using my chin as a brake.

Inspired. Ow. Slightly shocked, I reached Matthew, who did an excellent job of not reacting to my appearance at all, which helped. We went back to find my water bottle which was lucky, as only then did we spot my watch had come off. The Garmin’s strap had broken off, but was intact – I’ve repaired one before, though with a tool.

Speaking of tools. Pegs looked a little more concerned than Matthew had, and I was bleeding a bit, but once we’d all recovered from the disappointment of there being no frozen cokes I was able to clean up to find that underneath all the grime, no injury was that serious. I still don’t recommend the chin brake, it can be disfiguring.

In the afternoon, Pegs and I took a trip out to see the beaches. We drove past several of them, with Andrew impressing me with his knowledge of the happening pubs – we were later to visit the Leftbank, which might have been more trendy than either of us has been. We stopped at Scarborough beach-the place to be seen, I am told. The sea is fairly fierce, not up to surfing standards perhaps, but it fair crashes in to the shore. Throwing a ball back to someone in the sea needs a bit of accuracy or it will come straight back onto the beach, for instance. We bounced around in the waves for a while, free from the responsibility of looking after anyone. Which is just a normal day for me, of course, but not for everyone. Always good to see a different perspective.

Tussocks and dunes behind Scarborough beach
Scarborough beach.

Ice cream on the way to the pub, which is a good deal. We paused to avoid being in the line of a photo, and Pegs offered to take it for them, showing all his creative composition. I tried to look impatient, so mum could have a ‘such a nice gay couple helped us with this photo’ story.

Australia really is a country for getting up and out, but a 5.00 start made for a pretty wiped out evening and surely would for most of even an early rising society. I’d earned a good night’s sleep.

Reading: Gary Gibson, Empire of Light. Which it see now continues from Nova War. Which I have. But have not read. My thing, then; series, read in the wrong order

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