Biking the same trails near work or home is great for a quick blast. The local trail centre is also great, especially in winter when they hold up even after weeks of wet weather. Sometimes you just need to go up some mountains though and use the bike as a tool to cover more ground than you could hiking.
With that in mind I plotted a quick route, made a quick sandwich, loaded up the bike and set off to the Black Mountains. It was hot and humid with a chance of storms. The climbs were tough, but once on the ridgeline I was motoring along. The usual knee killing descents were now the best bit.
The terrain was varied and super fun to ride. Something different. Challenging in different ways. My route choice went from good to challenging after the first hour. It started with a river crossing which looked like a bridge on the map. No problem, socks and shoes off and I chucked my bike on my shoulder. Then a big climb. It was nowhere near rideable. A sheep’s track at best.
One of my favourite and most useful bits of outdoor gear I own is a water filter (I use the Sawyer Squeeze mini). A small filter that allows you to refill your bottle or bladder from streams, rivers etc whilst minimising the chance of getting seriously ill. For longer days in the hills it is essential. Riding hills in the heat you sweat a lot and need to keep drinking. This means you do not need to carry as much water with you.
Three quarters of the way round my back wheel felt a bit squirmy. I stopped to inspect it and it was a bit soft. I optimistically put some more air in and carried on. Five minutes later it felt really soft again. Another stop and this time I swapped the tube. Maybe tubeless is the way to go. At least I was prepared.
By the time I made it back to the car I was exhausted. Good thing the forecast for the next day was torrential rain so there would be no sense of not making the most of the day.