Words: Tom Lynskey Photos: Digby Shaw

Tyres grip and shudder as you lean in off the top of the bank. The wind whips over your shoulders as you gather speed – faster – faster again – maybe too fast. Drop your elbows in anticipation of the ditch. The front wheel hits first, then the back, quickly – ba-BANG. You feel the tyres flatten to nothing. You wait for a hiss. You’re bouncing sideways – ride it out. Look ahead. Somehow, against the thuds you can tell there’s still air in there. You pinball up out of the ditch. You get back on the hammer. You’re gone.

You lurch up the bank, pushing the tyres down, forcing traction. You creak to the top, turning left – in – lining up the off-camber. At the bottom there’s a slight depression. Rut isn’t the word, but it’s close. The track veers right – there’s an entry and there’s an exit, but in between there are no promises. Just gotta trust it. When you feel the front slide, you consider panicking. But you right yourself, keep looking ahead and let the back go as well. You’re adrift and it’s not clear who holds your fate.

There’s a flat turn. You come in hot. Shit, too hot, surely. No time to worry about that now. Lean in. The tyres are pulling up turf – a thick, crunchy rip of a sound accompanied by squirmy tremors that are no friend of yours. The front finds a nice channel, you know you can have it. You hunch over, dig in hard, drop your heels, give it hell. The back hasn’t come round the corner yet. When it does it’s spitting grass into the air. Pull it in. Get gone.

The wind rolls down the valley, whipping across its contours. The sun falls against the hills, chasing gaps in the clouds. Water slips over rocks in the river, tumbling along its course. Children play on the opposite bank, brandishing sticks and shouting happily. A couple trots their bichon along the gravel path, gazing onward. Hundreds of cars stream down the motorway as Sunday afternoon turns gently by.

But your vision is tunnelled and you are just trying not to be done in by it all.

And you notice none of it, of course.