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Reviewer/Tester
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I decided to ride earlier because the weather had been nice and cool, a welcome change from the blisteringly hot days that we had been having lately. The day was overcast and cloudy, very nice for riding.

I set out from home and rode for an hour on back roads to the trailhead of a track which runs beside a nice creek that meanders along through the bush for some miles before emptying itself into a deep gorge.

There were no other riders around, I had only ever seen one other rider on this track before anyway, so I expected to have it all to my self again.

The first part of this trail is mostly downhill, with some good drop-offs which can be taken at speed for some floaty downhill jumps. When I reached the valley below I was just taking it easy, pedalling along quietly, and enjoying the ride.

Suddenly, out of nowhere a rider zips by me. I hadn't heard him come up behind me, which was strange, as the trail was covered in loose gravel and quite noisy in this section.

I let him go, thinking that it didn't matter, but then an idea popped into my head. I started thinking that it would be nice to ride with someone for a change, so I jumped up off the seat and started pedalling hard to catch him.

I caught sight of the rider ahead as the trail changed to sand over hardpack, a treacherous mix that can dump you on your butt in the corners if you are not careful. He was pedalling hard, so I really put in a lot of effort to see if I could close the gap between us.

I slowly drew closer to him, but it was very hard work. I could just barely make an impression on the gap between us, but I was slowly gaining, so I persisted.

Up ahead, the trail took a right turn through the trees, and I was hoping that the 29'ers cornering ability would allow me to get a bit closer to him so I could see what he was riding. It was definitely a hardtail, but thats all I could make out.

I swept hard into the corner and flew out onto the short straight before the next one. Sure enough, he was a bit closer. As he leaned into the next corner, I noticed that he was wearing an old grey coat of some sort, as I could see the ends of it flapping in the breeze.

His bike, or what I could see of it, looked rusty. He wore no helmet. His dark hair hung down over his coat collar. I remember thinking to myself that he sure could ride though, as he was proving to be damn hard to catch.

We swept through the next few corners and I was closing on him on every turn as the big wheels proved their worth. Now I was close enough to see that he was wearing heavy boots!! He also had some cord tied around his legs just below the knees of his old black trousers.

His coat flapped around the rear wheel as he pedalled along. My interest was really piqued now. Another thing...his wheels were narrow. I wondered how the hell he could corner so well with them narrow tires.

I redoubled my efforts to catch up with him. We were approaching the section of trail where the creek takes a sharp turn and then drops suddenly into a deep gorge. The rider was now only about ten metres ahead of me. Not once had he looked back to see where I was, even when I had called out to him.

As we approached the last corner before the gorge turn, I began to feel a strange foreboding in my stomach. it was almost as if I knew something bad was about to take place.

I hit the corner about 5 metres behind him. Then I hit the brakes...hard ! !


The bloke on the other bike had ridden straight ahead... he hadnt turned the corner, he had ridden straight over the edge of the cliff ! !.

I layed the bike down on its side and slid towards the outside of the corner in a cloud of dust. The right hand pedal bit hard into the dirt, slowing me down.

I was totally in a state of shock..

As soon as I stopped I was up and running towards the edge, hoping somehow that he had not gone over. I walked out onto the edge and peered over to the rocks below.

................ Nothing. No bike, no rider...no sign of him. No bloody wreck of a man below on the rocks...nothing.

I was shaking from the reaction. Shocked and sick feeling.

After I calmed down a bit, I examined the soft ground of the trail.

There were one set of tire tracks in the soft sand along that trail.

One set.


Mine.




R.
 
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