By Adele Mitchell (journalist, women’s cycling blogger and mountain biker!)
There are two things that are pretty much guaranteed to slice your confidence in two on a trail: one is being told that it ‘gets really, really technical, gnarly and steep once you get round that first corner’. The other is finding out that the trail is affectionately - and unofficially, of course - known as ‘Call The Air Ambulance’, ‘Six Months in Traction’ or ‘Best Not To Even Try’. *
Naming unofficial trails is absolutely necessary of course: otherwise how else are we going to impress everyone with our on-bike antics - or even describe where we’ve been? “I had a big off on that muddy downhill bit that goes over that big hump by those huge trees” is more likely to result in clueless head shaking than nods of sympathy. Give that trail a stupidly daunting name though, and you’re suddenly a superhero.
We all know the names are created by testosterone fuelled imaginations rather than being a product of precisely measured grading - yet still they strike fear into my heart. Here in the Surrey Hills, for instance, the prize for the most terrifying (yet publishable) trail name surely goes to Deliverance – a very long and very sheer roll-down - and funnily enough it took just one glance over the top of it to convince me to turn my bike around and ride somewhere else. There are other trails too with names so wholly inappropriate and wince-inducing that it’s probably best not to write them down here. I peer over the top of those and turn around, as well.
However I managed to ride trails called Carnage Hill, Rude Awakening and Highway to Hell at Swinley Forest without being evenly remotely terrified (and believe me, that’s really quite unusual); possibly because I didn’t realise what they were called until I got home and looked on Strava.
To confuse matters, some of the most technical and potentially dangerous trails have deceptively bland names – local skills coach Richard Kelly from All Biked Up http://www.allbikedup.com sites Ambivalence (next to Deliverance!) – a drop with a near flat landing (and therefore not going on my ‘to do’ list anytime soon) as an example. He also pointed out that Cliff Richard, also on Leith Hill, ‘has claimed numerous collar bones’.
Which just goes to show, whatever the trail name, you just can’t predict what’s going to be around that first corner!
*Note to the foolhardy who are now frantically searching for these trails on Strava: forget it, they don’t exist (unless you know differently, of course…)
Follow Adele on Twitter: @adelemitchell
Photo Credit: Paul Mitchell Photography