“I need you to pick me up”

How many times have you had to say that? How many times have you been called? Perhaps you once ran out of lights on an evening ride, or maybe you found yourself with a mechanical that zip ties, repair kits or grass stuffed into a tyre just can’t fix. (No, I’ve never done that either).

But there are perhaps those times too where you’ve had to ask for more help than a pick up due to a mechanical.

Today, mid-work telecon, my wife called to say our son had fallen off in the park and couldn’t ride. As she had the pram too and our other two sons, could I come and pick up my eldest and his bike; he was hurt. A quick drive up to the park and I found my lad, bloodied and bruised nursing a cut to his chin, leg and hands – a too tight turn on tarmac flipping him off the bike and on to the surface. He’s ok.

“I need you to pick me up”

Rewind a couple of months. It’s early evening and me and a mate are out riding a loop we’ve ridden together countless times. Down Devil’s Elbow. It’s a bit slick. A technical rocky trail, but a fun fast blast made the all the more fun with the shadows and shimmer of lights on mud and gritstone. We were both riding well, but my mate was more on it than me and he came past as I took a sec to get my head back and concentrate. Heading down I heard the shout “man down” and the pool of light I’d seen moving between the trees was now still. Under his bike I found my ashen faced friend and together we made our way out of the woods. It was clear from the off that his arm was broken – badly. We called and waited for an ambulance. A taxi came twenty minutes later and my mate headed off for a few days in hospital.

I looked at the two bikes and helmets I had with me and called another one of our riding mates.

“I need you to pick me up”

Two separate falls, two separate outcomes, but two things in common. There was nothing out of the ordinary about the rides – both were routine, and both were close enough to home to ask for help.

As ‘lockdown’ is eased in England, there’s an almost fervent rush to get back into the hills to ride, in some circles. Despite people talking about discovering new, previously unknown local trails there’s an understandable desire to get back into the Peak.

Today an update on the twitter feed talked of rammed laybys and busy tracks. We love the place and we want to go back, of course. There’s also the very real positive benefit both physically and mentally in just riding a bike. Trust me, having been on lockdown with three kids under 8 for 7 weeks, I know.

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Staying local, being outridden by my 5 year old.

But with the lockdown also came calls from mountain rescue teams and residents to wait; don’t rush just yet. Coniston Mountain Rescue recently shared a great blog about the challenges of a callout under COVID conditions. It’s well worth a read and made me think long and hard – especially following my ride with my mate on Devil’s Elbow – that I might just hang on a little more until I jump in the car and head further out than the local trails; not because I fear catching or carrying a bug from or to wherever I ride, but because of the potential impact on the people who live in the places I go to. But that might just be me.

I’m as unclear as others over exactly where things are in England at the moment. And perhaps I’m playing it overly safe. But even the very first line of the government’s guidance is “stay at home as much as possible”. There are some great resources and guidance shared on the various mountain biking related websites such as Peak District MTB which may help you make up your own mind. Well worth taking a look at what’s recommended.

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Passing the time by building bike stuff in the garden

It will pass. We will be able to get back to some kind of ‘new’ normal. We will get back to whinging about mud and open gates soon enough.

In the meantime, stay safe, look after yourselves and each other, be nice, say hi.

And grab a cuppa.

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