We all have our MTB Nemesis. It could be wet roots, off-camber corners, drops or jumps or even in extreme cases ‘slight undulations in the ground’ (Leigh B) or indeed ‘slighly moist plazas in Morzine town centre’ (Steve)… ahem.

Anyway, a recent feature is the old Surrey Hills MTB favourite and my all time nemesis – the “marble”…

The marbles on “Marbles” have cost me dear over the years. If my memory serves, so far they have claimed two rims dings, four spokes, 5 punctures, an XTR mech (twice), a ripped tyre wall and a healthy bruise on my hip. To Matt W’s recent cost, they have also resulted in a foobar’d bearing and a ‘reformed’ pedal. And yesterday they cost me a snapped rear gear cable (or maybe this was my bike sulking at the ordering of new shiny bits?)

Anyhoo, you get the idea – they are just evil!

So as I’m feeling fairly Zen like today as spring is in the air I am reminded of the wisdom Sun Tzu (that would be the 6th Century Chinese military strategist – yes, I have read some books…) who states:

It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.

So, yeah… erm… there you go. Clearly then I should “know the marble” and in “knowing the marble” I will no longer be imperiled in every battle or indeed smacked stupid by marbles every time I ride then. So, without further ado:

Fat Marble:

These chunky buggers are the “Marble of Marbles” and the ones you REALLY want to try and avoid on the way down. Notice the brick like appearance. About as unforgiving as a brick as well.

Sharp Marble:

These are the mech-killers. Looking like some kind of mini dinosaur ending asteroid they lay in wait for the XTR equipped weekend rider so they can strike.

Spoke-Buster Marble:

Slightly smaller than the ‘Fat Marble’ but no less deadly. If you’ve ever followed Mark T down Marbles, these are the ones that ‘ka-ping’ off his rear wheel in all directions. There is no spoke on earth that can resist their deadly power…

Ankle-Pinger Marble:

The smallest of the marbles but by no means the least. As you can see with added ‘riding specs for size’ (and arty photographer reflection no less). These are the marbles you are sure you can ride over – I mean, they look so un-threatening don’t they? But that’s when they strike, ricocheting off the ground in a gravity defying trajectory to numb the ankle, stub the toe, smack the ‘general foot’ or even your maim your hip…

Marbles…. you have been warned…