For those of us who have been working from home during the past 18 months, it’s funny how these two phrases in the title to this post have become so well used in such a short time. There’s nothing more annoying than responding to a question or in providing a personal view on something when half way through your sentence, you’re reminded by several people on the call that nobody can hear you because you’re stupidly on mute. It’s worse if you were hoping to leap into a conversation with a well timed piece of inspiration or witticism, which obviously won’t be when it’s delivered late.

The other phrase about the screen sharing question is based on the fact that sometimes the technology doesn’t work or the person who wants to share their screen, didn’t click the right button. I guess the question is asked as it’s also about checking audience participation and ensuring you have their attention, just in case they’re doing something else. Fortunately, these two phrases aren’t generally used whilst out riding a bike with another rider, unless you are ‘working from the bike’ for example……

Anyway, I have heard a different phrase from a couple of cyclists recently that goes like this; “I have everything that I will ever need in my cycling life. Almost”. This phrase is used by ‘bicycle projecteers’ who always have a project (or two) on the go. It is also used by some cyclists in reference to their bikes and/or cycling wardrobe, which is only ever current for one season, maybe two at the most. Eddy Merckx came out with a classic phrase “Don’t buy upgrades, ride up grades.” What His Royal Eddyness was referring to was ‘just get out there and ride’. I like this phrase, although I do like to do an occasional upgrade as well.

This week, I did get out and ride up a grade, but not just one of those local grade rides from the house. It also wasn’t really a ride that recognised the issues with global warming either. The ride was in the U.K. and turned out to be about 4 hours in duration, but it was on the opposite side of the country and about 3 hours drive away. This meant that the bike was in the car for a least 6 hours and being ridden for 4 hours. Make sense? Let me explain……

I still own and ride a mountain bike that I bought in the year 2000 and the first big ride I ever did on it was at the Coed-Y-Brenin bike park (link below) in North Wales, which back then, was fairly local for me. It seemed like a good idea to return to the same bike park with the same bike after a 21 year period. It also seemed like a good idea to get my brother out on his bike, and at the same time, call in to see our Mum and take her out for dinner at the end of the day. A top plan, and even the weather forecast looked good(-ish).

We’ll now pretend that I’m ‘on mute’ as I explain the journey to North Wales from Yorkshire, how I met up with my brother etc etc, and that the map I wanted to show you didn’t come up on the screen share. This way, both of these 21st century phrases in my title cut out the boring stuff👍.

On at arrival at Coed-Y-Brenin, we unload the bikes and head out on one of the many the trails, this one being called spectacularly, THE DRAGON’S BACK, which is 32km long. Whilst we were riding to the trail head, which is a massive pair of suspension forks that we ride under, we pass through the car park and I notice that apart from a very young rider on a bike with 24 inch diameter wheels, I appeared to have the second smallest wheels at a ‘vintage’ 26 inch diameter. Everyone else was riding on the now standard 27 or 29 inch wheels, and as I also have, I understand why.

The Dragon’s Back trail is well made and maintained and is a ‘Red Run’ category, so whilst challenging in places for my old bike, it’s doable. The trail is mostly single track and elevation is gained through short rides up forestry tracks. From a weather perspective blah, blah, blah, on mute etc, let’s just say it was mixed. If you are into spotting lichens and mosses, this is the place for you! Everywhere is very, very green, which means one thing, it is largely wet in this area.  A lot of the descents that were across slippery rocks were a challenge for my ‘small’ wheels and my desire not to get inconveniently injured. A COVID quarantine is one thing, but a broken bone is a higher level of inconvenience and this ride wasn’t a race with winnings that will pay the mortgage, so the occasional dismount was required.

A 21 year old bike and you can’t hear the cries of joy as I’m on mute again😬

After a few view stops and some pieces of my own homemade, high-performing flapjacks (see recipe below), we get back to the van 4 hours later feeling resolutely pleased with ourselves. Apart from a light shower at the top of the mountain and a few derailleur adjustments on my Bro’s bike, all was just fine. I did notice that whilst riding and talking to each other on the trail, it was a bit like ‘being on mute’ sometimes as things are unheard first time and need repeating. This is due to the crunch of tyres on gravel or the wind noise or the need to focus on the trail, which then cuts out the ‘male listening function’.

My Bro’ doing his best to mimic ‘The Beast’ trail logo as he couldn’t do a ‘Dragon’s Back’ one.

On a serious note, I looked very carefully for any trail litter as I’m a huge supporter of the MTB group ‘Trash Free Trails’ (link in the sidebar), and pleasantly-surprisingly, didn’t see any, so either the Coed-Y-Brenin team clean up after the litter bugs or the many people that ride there take their litter home. Either way, I was pleased to see no trash👍.

Bikes are strapped into the van and we head off in the direction of our Mum’s and realise that we’ll be late for the dinner reservation. We call Mum from the car and explain our expected ETA. She’s not ‘over the moon’ about it as she’s hard-wired to being at the restaurant bang on time so she can choose her salad (🤪). After several calls, we decide to ‘eat in’ at her place. This includes Mum doing her own salad and me and Bro’ going to the local fish and chip shop for our carbohydrate shot. We do all of this and then head off back home. 

As a final post finale, you can assume that I’m on mute and you can check out my high performing flapjack recipe below, and crucially, if you do a back-to-back test with my high performing flapjacks and any over-the-counter (OTC) sports nutrition bar, you’ll find that mine are better (obviously😉), and you also won’t need to drink all of your water to make sure it gets digested either, AND mine smell waaaaaaay better. It must be the butter😉. They also do have a van full of calories in them and taste sublime!

The high performing flapjack. Mmmmmmmmm noises ‘on mute’

The Diary of a Cycling Nobody High Performing Flapjack recipe

Ingredients:

250g so slightly salted butter

250g of caster (fine) sugar 

450g of porridge or mixed oats

2 big tablespoonfuls of mixed seeds

A big handful of raisins or sultanas or both

1 big tablespoon of candied or crystallised Orange peel

3 big tablespoons of golden syrup.

‘Some’ nuts of some sort.

Method:

Grease a baking tray using the butter wrapper.

Put the sugar, butter and syrup in a large-ish pan and melt it all together gently (not full blast heat).

Add all of the dry ingredients into the pan and stir it well so that everything is covered and shiny.

Empty pan onto the baking tray and press down the mixture with the back of a spoon or spatula. Lick the spoon after, it’s delicious.

Bake in the oven at 180C or 350F for 25-30 minutes and until the edges start to crisp up.

Remove from the oven and after a little cooling, mark out the pieces with a sharp knife so that when it cools, you can cut it easier.

Put a few pieces into a plastic bag or box and take with you on your ride. You won’t regret it and won’t buy another OTC bar unless you really have to. Don’t leave your trash on the trails either please👍

Here’s the link to Coed-Y-Brenin bike park: https://www.mbwales.com/agents/coed-y-brenin/

All photos by the Author and his Bro’😉

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