When you're in something you're in it and you can't see it for what it is. Last night - with the clarity of retrospect and a good night's sleep - was essentially a group of primitive tribe-members following their tribal leaders into a wood to follow rule-bound ritual; including fires, hallucination (though excessive alcohol ingestion and adrenaline production) and hyperactivity.
To translate - Last night was annual the Bristol halloween ride. A group of 50 witches and devils (with the odd crow and ghost) rode around Ashton Court and Leigh Woods and came to a halt by a camp fire ("I don't don't know they got persmission for that" - sweet!) where we split into teams and between swigs of wine chased around a tricky singletrack loop in relay. When you look at it like that its seems almost normal but think about what it looks like for people not 'in it' - it is actually quite bizarre.
So I have absolute sympathy for people who raise one eyebrow when they see the scarred legs and muscled thighs which set me apart from 'normal' girls and who, when they discover my weekend shenanigans think I'm a bit, well, tribal. I am, I follow the mountainbiking tribe. I worship the leaders. I adhere to traditions and hold certain days, rules, events or artefacts as ritually sacred. I'm comfortable with that because my identity is entwined with and reliant on that way of life. Bikes are my social prop and riding my form of cultural capital which I cash in for friendship and respect within my group where this kind of capital has some currency.
We take it for granted, this sense of bike-oriented belonging, but it is special and we should be proud.