Slowing down and appreciating being outdoors is more and more part of my riding. There’s a time and a place for throwing on the full face, knee pads, and grabbing the bars. And I still love to test my nerve on technical descents, but more and more I like to just get out to experience the world. To slow down.
This week has been a mixture of getting over yet another cold and setting everything up behind the scenes to create more throughout 2022. It’s been a week off of the full-time job but it’s felt like I’ve swapped the time for work on Pedal Slip instead. Don’t get me wrong, I love working on Pedal Slip. It’s just that it is also a time-consuming thing to be running; what with the constant need to fuel the social media machine, and the endless pursuit of trying to build up an audience for the things I’m creating. So, when I found a spot in the diary which also dodged the horrendous weather, I grabbed the gravel bike and headed for Dalby Forest.
The mountain bike trails at Dalby are fairly well explored by now: it’s a place close by that I ride fairly regularly. However, I’ve not really adventured through the rest of the forest. There are countless walking routes, bridleways, and unofficial bike trails but all of these were of no interest to me this time. I wanted gravel. Fire-road. Hard-pack but not smooth. Something the Lost Lad could eat up. Dalby didn’t disappoint.
Scott, of Average Adventures, and I spent most of the day in the sunshine riding any track that looked interesting. We’d initially met with the intention of taking in the easy green route to get the legs used to spinning again after such a long time off the bike. The lure of trails off of the route soon took us zig-zagging between the rows of trees, and into the forest on tracks we’d never even considered before. The riding was easy, with only the occasional rolling hill to contend with, and the lack of Strava meant that we stopped for rests when we wanted, rather than watching the miles trying to reach the next.
Between stints on the fire roads, we stopped to capture the day in photos and videos. Each time, we seemed naturally to spend some time silently looking around the trees and listening to the sounds. Scott and I chatted about how it was nice to just come to the forest and ride around aimlessly, following our own agenda with nowhere to be and no times to stick to. Removing any sort of route and intention meant that we were just there to ride bikes. Nothing more, nothing less. It was literally a slow pace ride. And this is the sort of riding I’m become more and more drawn to. A sense of adventure but without any agenda. A pedal into nothing, and for nothing other than just to pedal.