18 Jul 2017

My First Shuttle

WORDS x Kristian Skjødt
PHOTOS x Gary Perkin

There had been the traditional fumbling, walkabouts and close-to-but-no-cigar episodes in my youth but it wasn’t until four years ago I had my first time. Proper one. At aged 33 one could and should argue that having the first time at 29 is considerably late.

Surely some of you are feeling sorry for me at this point but you shouldn’t. The first one has the reputation of being smelly, confusing, a struggle to get it right and being over before it even started. But that was far from my experience.

As I am writing this I almost shiver from the memories and emotions. Almost.

She was beautiful. Silver grey, long wheel base, VW T5 2.5 Tdi. It was in the southern small French village of Sospel. Hometown to Ash Smith, the man behind the very definition of epicness and rad mountain biking adventures, the Trans-Provence. And he was driving up winding narrow roads passing dodgy country houses, small steep terraces with ancient olive trees, and barking dogs looking down into the valley while eating breakfast (on this historic occasion, a bag of Skittles) and barely avoiding the local kamikazes throwing their heaps of rusty scrap down the mountain in search for their sheep-herd or the nearest bar.

That very first time you get into a shuttle bus. The uplift vehicle which will take you to places you haven’t seen before. Take you further up the mountain than you even bothered to pedal. That slightly buzzing feeling of butterflies tumbling in your intestines, when you are equally frightened if you’re a-game is up for it, and equally excited of the upcoming adventure.

The slight (okay, it might have been strong) feeling of nauseous build on an equal combination of anxiety, driving on tiny exposed roads and the smell of sweaty feet, warm kneepads, sunburned skin and the banana in your pocket trying to escape its peel.

That’s the smell of an adventure just starting. A proper one. I’d wish my first time (that other one) was as good.