With the shoulder injury slowly healing, I've been gradually weaning myself back on to off-road riding. Starting with smoother trails - and on the fatbike - I had worked up to some rougher stuff in the Pentlands and then took the Santa Cruz Blur out for a spin. Everything seemed to be fine, so I'd decided I'd pop down to Glentress today for a change of scenery.
I got up, got packed and organised and then sort of stalled. No matter what I did, I just couldn't get that final bit of impetus to get me out of the door. Another cup of coffee and a brief glance out the window confirmed that the weather was still pretty much perfect and, eventually, I could think of no reason not to head off. And then things got a bit weird....
As I was driving down the A703, I realised that I was actually quite nervous and anxious. This took me aback somewhat. After all, I was only heading down to ride a bike. Then I thought about it a bit more and tried to work out what was going on.
I recalled that my last visit to a trail centre had been Laggan, months ago. I'd not really enjoyed it. My riding was all over the place and the bike felt all strange. The latter, I discovered, was due to a snapped pivot bolt. So, maybe I was a bit nervous about having a similar experience? Then it hit me. At a trail centre, the riding is really all about getting down the hill quickly. The man-made obstacles are designed to stretch and challenge you and, even without the pressure of following riders, you can't really just bimble along - yet that's what I'd mostly been doing recently.
There's nothing much wrong with bimbling. Attention can be focussed internally - on one's own feelings and thoughts - or you have time to take in your surroundings. Either way, the riding is very much a secondary activity. Now, I was about to change all of that and I guess I wasn't sure what to expect.
As it turned out, everything was just fine. I managed another short delay at the Peel Cafe, grabbing a roll and coffee, but once I was under way I just settled into the different vibe that the trail centre provides. The handling issues I'd experienced at Laggan had all gone and I felt I was actually hitting some of the rougher stuff as well as I ever had (I'll never be quick). When I did reach the car park again, I was both energised and relieved. I just need to make sure I don't leave it as long before my next visit.