Of course perfection in an absolute sense only belongs to the Hereafter, but I mean this in a poetic sense that my weekend was perfect.
Of course sitting hear now I could think of few ways that it could have been improved, but all things considered, it was near enough.
Lesson for you all: DO NOT LISTEN TO THE MOANS, GROANS and complaints of your TEENAGE SON about how he doesn't want to come with you, and how his broken ankle hasn't healed yet(although he was running around fine on it last weekend) and how he can't stand long journeys etc...etc...
You are his parent, you know what's best for him. End of story.
I was invited to give a talk in Abu Bakr Mosque in Nottingham on Saturday evening, so bundled three of the kids onto the car (including the above teenage son), along with mountain bikes. Being world cup final weekend the roads were not nearly as full as usual, which made the whole drive relatively painless.
Star no. 1. Nice journey.
Although the talk was not massively attended, the attendees were attentive and enthusiastic. It was also one of my favorite topics, "The Importance of Giving Dawa." The question and answer session was also very constructive. After the talk the kids were really hungry (OK so was I) since we'd been traveling all day and so we went to the second best kebab shop in Nottingham, Chapati Junction.
After that we headed back to Hamza's pad and some of the lads follow us, and we sit and talk about Dawa the pros and cons of different martial arts systems (Hamza is well into them.) Teenage son argues that they are all rubbish and has wrestling match with Hamza, but begs him not to use his martial arts!? (Do teenagers realize how they manage to contradict themselves like ten times in twelve minutes?)
Star no 2. Nice talk, nice meal, nice brothers, nice fight, nice sleep......
We're up by 8:30am, after a basic breakfast and head off to Stafford to meet Ed, who is going to show us round "the Chase." First we drop into Tescos for munchies and drinks, and then were off to the Chase via Mamouth Lifestyle to hire Ed a bike.
Now those of you who know me know probably know that mountain biking is one of my passions. Before we can actually start the ride we have two flat tyers to fix, and one of them proves very difficult. The tyre is so thick and heavy that its almost impossible to get it off the rim, and once its off its a mission to get it on again. In the ensuing struggle the inner tube gets a pinch flat and we have to start the whole process again! The whole getting ready lark takes a good hour, but in fact its all part of what mountain biking is about.
Teenage son meanwhile hops on bike and tries a pre-run from the top of the hill, and completely fails to see a ditch, but somehow amazingly avoids a major crash, but scratches himself up. He cusses the bike, and set his agenda for the rest of the day. Every time something goes wrong the bike is cussed, although the bike is excellent. even if it has seen better days.
The ride starts with a long but easy climb and soon opens out to wide open vistas.
The climb is followed by a cracking descent the end of which has us grabbing at our breaks and scrabbling for traction. Bilal (son) looses it and takes a second tumble. More bike cussing!
Nothing is too hilly for too long in the Chase, which is good and bad. You don't climb for too long, but then you don't descend for too long either. Kids can't seem to understand a simple concept that in order to go down you have to go up, and the ups and downs need to be equal. All this brings dreams of lift assisted ascents in the Alps. Myself, I like to earn the descents.
After a wonderful flowing hillside trail followed by a short sharp drop we head up into the forest of pines and wonder at the beams of sunlight dappling over the bracken through the trees.
This is mountain biking at its best. A fine day, not too hot, in wonderful country side with great trails that get the pulse going. What other sport gives quite such a combination of exercise, skill, adrenaline rush, and awesome vistas and the fresh air of the great outdoors?
Star no 3.
The day hasn't ended though, in fact the best is still to come. We stop off in the visitors centre for some baked potato lunch, and then hit the Garry Fisher red route. This is composed of technical single track, and is just superb! Ed is being brilliant and sticks with the girls and lets me and Bilal steam ahead. We wait at the end of the trail section and listen to the cries of delight from the girls.
Star no 4! The smiles on their faces say it all!
We go through five or six sections of these trails, some roller coaster like through head high bracken and others knitting their way through tight packed pines . Bilal, who didn't even want to come, now does not want to stop, but the girls, as much fun as they are having are getting tiered, and Ed can spot it.
He takes us to another Forest Centre, and leaves me with girls and heads of with Bilal to get the car.
We manage to get our foot into the cafe door as it's closing, but as the till is closed have to spend £10 on ice creams, crisps, drinks and chocolate. We munch our way through it and watch Adam, a teenager from Stoke perform some trials wizardry as he hops up onto and down from the benches.
We chat about out our bikes, rides, injuries and adventures. I try his bike which I can hardly peddle! Adam is moving on to freeriding and has it with jumps and doubles and trials. Me, well, I know that I'm beyond that anyway. Freeriding is the buzz word(s) of mountain biking to which many aspire to but few really reach.
I'm just happy to be out on the trails, enjoying the air, watching the kids enjoying themselves and chatting to fellow bikers.
Star no 5.
Yep, its a five star, top marks Perfect weekend.
Thank you Allah!
check out the photos