Beautiful day here in the Alps. The village is en fete for the Christmas market, the sun’s out and it’s a lovely warm afternoon. Looks like the steak restaurant’s going to open tonight – that and the pizza van? On the same night? Our cup runs over.
Set off on an after-lunch mountain bike ride. Swing down the curves from the cabin, enjoying the whir of knobbly tyres on tarmac, through the village and down past the Parc de Loisir to the trailhead. My borrowed bike shifts gear oddly: what would normally be down instead shifts up, and vice versa. I make the mistake of looking down, to see what’s going on below.
The bike slides away from me on a something, and my chest hits the thick nylon rope running diagonally alongside the trail. Just when that’s getting properly uncomfortable, I slip down a bit and my neck starts to scrape along the rope. Then, as I’m wondering if having your Adam’s apple removed by rope rub causes you to turn into a lady, my jawline takes a turn at being flayed.
I realize – just as the bike, forward motion undisturbed by rope obstacles, travels far enough ahead of me to spit me off backward – that the not-unpleasant smell of roast pork must be me, singeing. It’s the last thought I have before the back of my head hits the (thankfully soft) ground. I still hit hard enough to split my helmet, making me very glad to be wearing one.
After quite a lot of lying on the ground groaning, a bit of sitting up groaning, and a generous helping of standing up and groaning, I get myself back to the cabin. The look on Emma’s face tells me this may not be all that pretty. Until now I’ve been trying to ignore the blood dripping off the point of my strong, manly jawline, but it’s time to face the mirror. Ow.
In closing: doing it hurt. Washing it afterward hurt a lot more. And my head’s still filed with a vague ache now, two hours later. Never look down.
(Special message for Hammy: your bike’s fine (apart from having stupid gears). It ran off and parked itself in a nice soft patch of grass, like a sensible mountain bike should.)