Ask Vania she knows better than anyone, I am a stubborn donkey. Especially when I am right (or think I am right) I will never back down. Now in normal work/home life the downside of this is pretty harmless if a little annoying for Vania. In politics, and unfortunately I seem to be spending more and more of my time playing that stupid game, the downside is just a weariness akin to that of Sisyphus . In exploration you end up with days like yesterday.
I use the word exploration in its broadest sense. I’m not out there in the jungle looking for lost tribes hidden valleys or lands never tainted by the foot of man. Don’t imagine Amundsen, even though that is how I see myself, just a more successful British version. Imagine instead a fat-ish, sweaty lycra clad version, blond and bronzed (ginger and sunburned) potting around the foothills of Pirin, Rila and the Rhodopes trying to find interesting routes for mountain biking.
None of the areas I wander are “untouched by foot of man” mostly they are dirt tracks or foot paths. Unused or rarely used most of them are either hunters paths or tracks used by fishermen to get to good marks. The trouble is they all look so inviting. so there I am on the river bank a good few miles from anywhere on a rarely used dirt track that peters out into the river. But over there I can see a good foot path. Bike on shoulder off I trot to see where it goes. And it goes and it goes. And slowly but surely it becomes more of a trace of a path than a real path and then just a sort of a hint of a path than anything else, but that’s got to be because of the rocks, and I am sure it will be clear after them, and then when the river is lower I’m sure it must carry on lower down…. Before you know it I have been lugging the bike for a good hour scrambling over loose rock in the middle of nowhere to no avail. Give up NEVER! So the stubborn donkey has to lug his bike back over the rocks and through the bushes for another hour of sweaty graft to get back to where he started and try and find another way out!
Fisherman’s marks are the bane of the trail hunters life as a fisherman is a lazy bugger. He’ll drive as far as he can and then walk some way along the bank to fish and then walk back and forward all day making a really clear path that looks well used, but the path goes nowhere, just up and down the bank never straying too far from the car.
So yesterday was another classic trail hunting day what should have been a gentle hour and a half, turned into 3 and a half hours of sweaty slog. I found the trail I was looking for and also found some lovely fishing marks but the amount of claret lost and graft expended really didn’t bear any resemblance to the benefit generated for the mountain bike community. But I’m a donkey so lost or not I keep on keeping on!