Monday, 19 April 2010

A great weekend and new beginnings

Wow, what a fabulous weekend!

The weekend inventory of injuries is as follows: several mysterious bruises (from Friday - can't work out what caused these), a collection of bright red scratches and scrapes on my forearms and lower legs (from Saturday - collected from crashing through undergrowth at speed), and a serious case of sunburn across my chest and shoulders plus a large scratch to the back of my left shoulder (stupidly spending the whole day in the sun with no sunscreen on and a run in with a large thorn whilst climbing over a stile) - see a bloody brilliant weekend! :o)

Friday afternoon and evening was spent at the April meet at Cheltenham race course. It was a beautiful spring afternoon, and a lovely opportunity to better get to know people I enjoy working with, as well as meet some new folks. Better still - some of my horses came home in the right order, so the afternoon's betting and drinks paid for itself! After that we headed into town for some determined bar-hopping (although I wasn't drinking), and finally finished up dancing away in a club in the small hours of the morning.

At about 2am, I realised that if I was going to have any hope of making the ride out with the mountain bike club in the morning, I'd best be heading off home. I almost talked myself out of it, round about that point, as nerves about riding with a bunch of strangers took over, but thought I'd at least set my alarm for the right time and see how I was feeling in the morning.

7.30am. Alarm ringing. Not enough sleep, but I'm awake and the sun is shining. Well, if I'm awake I might as well get up and get on with it. Haul out of bed, very quick shower (when my flatmate finally vacates the bathroom - what were the chances of us both being up at 7.30 on a Saturday morning for different reasons????), and grab kit. Slight anxiety over the fact that I still haven't had a chance to look at my worn-out brakes, but no time to worry if I'm going to make the rendezvous.

So off I head on a glorious, cool, sunny morning, over to deepest Gloucestershire and a rather large hill. The rendezvous's at Birdlip (Hill), which as anyone local to the area knows is rather steep. We're talking about an area that hosts the cheese-rolling annually on 1:1 gradient slope (it actually looks even steeper than that when we ride round it later on!). I find the start point on the first attempt, and easily locate the other ride members. They seem friendly enough, but I'm feeling shy as there seem to be a lot of very shiny bikes being unloaded - these guys have some serious kit (and it's nearly all alarmingly fit looking guys too)! I couldn't even see any other hardtails for the first 10 mins so I'm having minor kittens that I'm seriously out of my depth, but finally catch sight of a couple and calm down a bit. By the time the ride leaders have come over and introduced themselves (and turn out to be easy-going and non-judgmental), I'm feeling up for giving it a good shot.

After the inevitable faffing, about 14 of us pile out of the car-park, and almost immediately straight into home-made, twisty but flat singletrack in the beech woods. Riding on leaves is a new thing for me, and I chicken out of one bowl that has a virtually vertical 6ft drop into it, but other than that I'm keeping up, and no-one's judging me for bottling the one bit. As we continue, I discover I'm not the slowest, and although the pace is quite testing for me, it's doable and I'm relatively comfortable. Relaxed chatting at the frequent halts to regroup, soon have me realising that others are new-ish to the group, or are regaining fitness, and I'm soon feeling more settled. I even find out that one of the guys windsurfs the same resort we do in the winter in Dahab, so we have quite a chat as we're bowling along a section of the Cotswold Way later.

Over the top of Coopers Hill (of the cheese-rolling fame), and there's a bloody steep straight down round the side of the hill, where my lack of brakes becomes quite apparent, but I arrive at the bottom in one piece. I'm confidently riding behind the saddle on the drops, and feeling pretty good. The closeness of the singletrack means I've got some scratches from whipping through bushes and brambles, but it's also good to focus on my bike-handling on the close "gates" through the trees (some of which are barely handle-bar width), and we've had some fun with riding along logs and through naturally occurring bowls and drops. One final slog back up the hill on the Cotswold Way brings us back out by the cars.

1 hour 50 mins of fast riding, average heart rate 165, maxed at 195 (I didn't know my heart could beat that fast - bloody hills!), and 1300 calories burnt according the HRM! And it isn't even lunch time yet!

After a leisurely lunch, I actually get round to cleaning my bike (hallelujah!) and tinker with the brakes to get them sharper (and nearly somersault off the bike as result - maybe not quite that tight), and suddenly I'm late to get changed and meet Jo for the cinema!

We went to see Kick-ass, which was really good, and then headed back to Kidderminster to chill with a glass of wine, since both our flatmates were away for the weekend. I was spark out on her sofa by about half 10. Lame!!!

Yesterday, we decided a long walk was in order and mooched round from the North of Kidderminster to Bewdley, via some very pretty countryside. It was a glorious day, and we detoured through the very pretty Habberly Edge to enjoy the views. Lunch followed in Bewdley (well, we'd earned it) and very delicious fish and chips at a table with an umbrella by the river. A little ice-cream to follow and a saunter back through town the catch the steam-train home. About 10 miles covered on foot, and a rather interesting case of sunburn by the time I get home - d'oh!!!!

Note to self - if you're going on long walks or bike rides - sun protection is vital!!!!

Whilst we were walking and chatting yesterday, Jo and I were both bemoaning the fact that we're both stuck about 6lbs above our lowest weights from last year's challenge. It was Jo whom I kicked off the original 2009 challenge with, but we've both stalled, so we've decided to kick off a new challenge 2010.

We're both going to Costa Rica in August, so we've got equal motivation - for the first part we've committed to 4 weeks, and a solid attempt to lose the 6lbs to get us back to our lowest weights to date. Jo has just re-joined Weight Watchers, so we're on equal pegging. The specific challenge to achieve 4 weeks perfectly on points for the week, and we'll see where we get with the weight .... which means I've got some legwork to do after the weekend if I'm going to get this first week right.

Having someone else I'm accountable to really helps though - I went home and made soup last night, which I've also had for lunch today. I've got about 25 points to get back this week (mostly from Friday's shenanigans), so I'm thinking about eating a lot of fresh soup over the next couple of days to kick me off. On top of that, the ride on Sat has got me in the mood to get back into spinning which will have the double bonus of not just earning me activity points, but also getting me some useful cycle-specific fitness.

So far so good for the week!

1 comment:

kate said...

awesome to hear your enthusiasm for riding again. wear your battle scares with pride ;)

good luck with your 4 week challenge-keep spinning and it'll drop off