Sunday, 4 April 2010

A masochistic kind of pleasure

Hey guys,

Just thought I'd jump online whilst I've got a quiet moment and check in and see what's what.

I'm staying in deepest, darkest Wales this weekend with a big bunch of friends, and for the most part I'm having a whale (Wales?? teehee) of a time.

Our beautiful converted church on the coast is quite quiet at the moment, as people are either still out walking and exploring, or are crashed on the couches upstairs sleeping and listening to the chilled music which I can just hear filtering down the stairs.

The place we're staying is gorgeous - seriously, I aspire to own somewhere like this when I'm grown-up (yeah, I know, god only knows when that will be), with all the bedrooms and bathrooms downstairs, and upstairs being the massive open-plan church - leaded, stained glass windows, open beams, still with the pulpit (now housing the DVD library) and big chunks of the old pews forming the kitchen island.

However, as I sit in my comfy chair in front of the thoughtfully provided Mac computer, my seat bones are complaining more than a little after my first foray out on the bike. The whole group, novices to nutters, turned out with mountain bikes at the ready yesterday, to explore the trails around nearby Machynllryh. Those wanting a gentle ride got sent off along the Mach 1 trail, whilst I somehow got bundled off with the 3 nutters to go test out the Climach-x trail.

With the other 3 all having ridden all Winter, plus just generally being light years ahead of me in terms of riding skills and general fitness, it was an interesting trip! As we span out of Machynlleth and along the back roads to the head of the trail, I was busy getting a technical re-cap from Katherine on technical climbing and descending, which believe you me, came in very handy later!

Starting up the trails away from the road and up into the forest, my legs weren't too shabby (thanks to my recent return to running I'd guess), but my heart was fit to burst out of my chest and take my lungs with it, which might have been a blissful relief to the rasping sensation in my throat as I attempted to get enough oxygen on board to both climb and think! Me thinks, not riding all Winter was a dumb idea!

After a brief stop for everyone to remove layers at the official start to the trail, we headed straight on up the next section of fire-road, and I slowly settled into a rhythm - slow being the operative word. I figured it would be better to let the big boys and girls race on ahead, and for me to arrive at the top of the first section, still conscious, vertical and breathing. I'm proud to say, that despite my ascent being snail-paced (several may well have passed me on the way up), it was at least continuous. First challenge accepted and completed. I was conflicted halfway up though, as a bunch of downhillers passed me on their bikes, grinning and getting towed up on ropes behind a Ford Escort - I couldn't decide whether it was entertaining or just cheating as I slogged my own way up. I returned their grins and kept spinning as I mulled it over.

On to the first sections of single-track and I'd forgotten how bloody narrow the trails are. And how much gorse stings. And the feeling of the first trickles of muddy water seeping down your socks and between your toes.

Bloody marvellous, it is! :o)

As the others patiently waited for me at appropriate points, I emerged from the descents grinning and adrenaline high, and all was going swimmingly until Tim had an almightly blow out on a slate strewn section of open moorland. A good half-inch gash in his tyre resulted in half an hour of faffing as we first tried re-sealing his tubeless tyres (too big a tear, and the latex couldn't hold) and then finding a spare inner to bolster it until a full repair could be done. By now throughly cold again, we wolfed down Haribo and set about re-warming up, with a handily placed muddy slog - sorry, climb. Yuck.

The rest of the ride was trouble-free, with the exception of me suddenly running completely out of energy on the penultimate section of single-track which had too much up-hill and not enough down-hill for my poor legs. After a quick walk though, and half a sandwich wolfed at a rest point, we headed up the last section of fire-road and into the mammoth final descent (longest in Wales, baby!!!).

Heading into that, and with Tim insisting he hang back behind me to check I was ok and that we pause before the tricky part, I was a bit nervous that my legs wouldn't get me through the final section, but as soon as we started swooping down the hill, it all went away. Adrenaline fired back up, I warmed up, my legs felt springy again, and there was inadvertent whooping as I fired down as fast as I dared.

Walking over the short black section in the middle (well, I would wouldn't I, as even 2 of the other 3 couldn't get over in one go, and the third commented it was the first time he'd ever managed it), and we hopped back on for round 2 of descent. Back down below the tree-line, and there were a few moment as I became more confident where I nearly over-cooked it and came completely unstuck (feet off the pedals-style, and Tim commenting afterwards that I "did well to stick that out"). Hanging off the back of the bike, sliding and slipping through the turns, soaking up the rollers and splattering muddy water everywhere, we emerged grinning at the bottom (and covered head to toe in mud).

After that, some flat-out descents back down the remaining fire-roads and a big gear to spin back along the roads to town. Quads just starting to spasm a bit by then, so just taking it easy and letting the lactic acid disperse, sipping water before full-blown cramp set in. All in all, a fab ride, and the shower afterwards never felt so good, as the water turned brown with all the mud sluicing off me!

Food-wise, there's been a lot of it this weekend, but I've tried to make some good decisions. Friday night, I went over some, as there was lasagne and garlic bread, and although I started with a small portion, I went back and had the other half. And then rather a lot of vodka, lime and lemonade to drink in the pub.

Last night and today have been better. We had pie last night, but I stopped when I was full and handed my plate to one of the boys to finish off. I also stayed off the booze, which I think helped. Today, we've mooched over to Barmouth to wander, whilst the 3 nutters have gone off to climb a rather snowy looking Cader Idris. I wasn't too tempted myself after yesterday's outing, and with the amount of cloud smouldering overhead.

Instead, we parked on our side of the estuary and strolled over the toll-bridge to Barmouth, and once there a food expedition was started upon. I can take or leave the whole cockles thing, so I left it. At the fish and chip shop I had fresh scampi and a cone of chips, but left the remaining chips once the scampi was done and handed it to one of the boys to finish for me. After that came the amazing Knickbockers - an emporium specializing in ice-cream sundaes - my personal downfall. I avoided a full-blown sundae in favour of picking three scoops of my own choice and a sauce ...... and where has the real Sue gone? because I didn't finish it all, and handed off to yet another of boys to deal with the leftovers. Yay me!!!!! Some nice strolling around town, and then a mooch back over the toll bridge to the car completed the outing.

It seems I don't mind not finishing, and just stopping when I'm full, if I've got someone else around who will polish it off and enjoy it! I definitely need a boyfriend! I know they say most people put on weight when they go into a relationship, but it seems like it might be the opposite for me! lol

Anyway, that's everything from me for the moment. I'm going to push off and chill with the others now.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like an amazing place to be staying, have you got any photos or does it have a website?

Zanna, travelling tart said...

What a brilliant post to read - you sound so happy, focussed, enjoying life and managing your eating - take a bow lovely lady!

trio said...

Mountain biking rocks doesn't it!!!!

kate said...

i love that trail. dead impressed you got round despite a winter off the bike.....i've yet to clear 'that' section too. glad you're havin' some fun again :)