Circumstances can change so quickly these days.
“What time can you bike?” Texted Phil.
“Earlier?” I replied.
The intent was there at least, I’d spent most of the day on my knees in a crypt (a pipe related thing, not a praising affair obviously) and the cartilage in my right knee was poking out the sides of the joint like a schoolgirl blowing hubba bubba bubbles at a bus stop. So, clear skies, the wind in my “hair” and mud in my eye sounded good.
As it taps up, we were a combination of earlier and not so early, but we were on the climb from Kilpatrick Station well before 1700. It was hot, but we were spinning well, in fact were were bantering all the way up, still with a couple of gears left too. The top gate was open and the turn into the final steep stretch was taken at a good pace. I equalled my previous best falling-off-the-saddle point with a little left in the tank and Phil pushed well on towards the top. He’s racing in less that two weeks you know.
We were going to ride to The Slacks trig point, but I was doubting our ability to repeat that steep climb (The Slack loop takes you back down the hill about the start of the steep climb, really quickly), so I suggested we take the wee bit of singletrack to Duncolm and “see what happens”. We ended up carrying the bikes across our shoulders through calf-deep bog from Duncolm to Doughnot Hill. Brilliant fun, the photie below is somewhere around NS462779.
We rode/carried to the Black Linn reservoir and took the old track through the trees, now destroyed, to get to the top of the run down to Overtoun.
Phil was keen for me to go first, I think probably as a brake of sorts to keep him from pushing too hard, but not wanting to hold him back, I leaned into it and went for it. The sun was down but it was still light, the air was cool and clear and the track was fast and fluid. I was ready for the off-camber turn for the long chute through the bracken, but just a little too fast for the damp grass. I feathered the brakes, just a touch and back end locked-up instantly as the front stayed planted, it whipped left, clipped the lip of the chute and lifted into the air. This dropped me onto my right shoulder with the bike above me, the impact gave me that familiar moment of spastic elasticity that follows a hard landing and unclipped my feet, sending the bike into the scenery and me into a ball at the edge on the bracken a few feet down the chute like a wet snowball thrown at a bus windscreen.
I shivered right away and felt nothing jaggy or wet, always a good sign, I rolled myself the right way up and tried to breathe in, watching for Phil, he appeared after a few seconds and I think I just waggled my fingertips at him. You’d have to ask him, I was still rebooting.
The bike looked okay, nothing twisted, even the rear mech was still straight. My bare legs were now mud pinstriped with pink, but nothing too bad at all. Nice.
And, strange as it seems, you need a crash now and again to keep your confidence up. I’m not applying that maxim to the rest of the ride though, I was tentative all the way to the BP garage, I was feeling just a little like my tracking needed adjusted.
Hot steak and cheese panini (I think, could have been any number of breads done in a flatter style), cuppas and cake, banter and reflection as the night fell around us. I was stiffening up all the time though and was thinking “Hot bath and sympathy”.
I was pulling the bike into the garage when Jimmy appeared “Wee problem, Holly’s in hospital”.
All my fears manifest in one sentence. I pulled on dry socks as I fished my phone out of my rucksack with the other hand. I got Joycee. They were just leaving Yorkhill A&E and heading back. I paced by the window for the longest 15 minutes of my life.
Holly had got stuff in her eyes, they’d worked on her for 2½ hours and they were happy that there was no permanent damage, but she was going to have a difficult few days, and we had a wee regime to follow to get her through.
She was in a bad way, distraught, but she settled in the early hours and I got my bike gear and the mud off eventually. I shut down in a haze of emotion and fatigue.
“My can’t see” came the little voice this morning: back to hospital. The doctor was outstanding and she was home by early afternoon, eyes checked, cleaned, lubed and with new drops for us to administer. With a little coaxing, she started to open her eyes again, they’re swollen and so red. But when Auntie Cat visited tonight she was her old self, running around full of beans, way after her bedtime.
The relief at seeing that was as sharp as Jimmy’s intial news 24 hours before. Holly’s had her ups and downs, we’ve had our late night ambulance rides, but this is the first accident. You can’t wrap them in cotton wool, let them skin their knees, blah blah blah. I’m not going out of “quick, grab her” range again until she’s 16. Or 30.
Circumstances can change so quickly these days.