Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Majorca calling...

From majorca april 2009 b
Yes, we were there to ride... but this is the best shot of the holiday. Sitting on the balcony feeling suitably knackered, stuffed full of the buffet dinner and book in hand. It took me a few days to chill out but once that occurred then it was spot on.

From majorca april 2009 b

Munching dirty cakes was the second aim of the holiday, and was a close second. I have to say that Paula's choices in bakery product were pretty weak... big lumps of choc cake were always the way forward.

What really made the difference though...

... were the people we met. Gemma and Nick Collins showed us round the Soller reverse route and Nick put me in the Pain Cave. And we were really lucky to meet Pat & Jackie and Stuart & Jools from our hotel.

We continue to be extremely fortunate with the people who we bump into in life... people who share the same outlook (although a caveat to this is the old/posh/snobbish and rude people who had the room next to us. Who says that age gives wisdom?!)

From majorca april 2009 b
Top ride? Can't pick one. Best views though? Sa Calobra. The road winds down like this for 10 km. Dead end though so it's a cheeky climb.

From majorca april 2009 b
And I hate it when this happens. Cost breakdown: New skin = free, New shorts & bar tape £60, the feeling as your brand new bike scrapes down the road = priceless :(

The last day threw up some surprises. Plan was for 3 hours steady with new amigo Pat before getting home to pack up and fly out.

It was sunny on departure and sunny through coffee. Then black clouds amassed like I've never seen before. It reminded me a film when something really evil is about to appear. Needless to say it monsooned on us as we rode back. Proper big heavy rain with 2 inches of standing water on the road and the occasional flurry of cm diameter hail stones. We stopped briefly (and were still smiling at this point) to poach some plastic sheeting from a farmers shed and then cracked on with Pat driving it on the front to keep warm and to get us home asap.

Shortly after P's body shut down. I think she'd admit that functioning while cold isn't her forte and it was properly cold. Pat and I shepherded her to a cafe (the aptly named 'Stop Cafe' in Petra) where the owners couldn't have been more helpful and welcoming, despite the huge pools of water that we deposited on their floor. To cut it short Pat and his wife Jackie were heroes, helping us get back and catch the flight. It makes you realise that good people aren't all that hard to find at all.

From majorca april 2009 b
Ever been away for 10 days and ridden 600 miles, done 4 runs & 2 swims and been washing your clothes in the hotel bath? If you have then you'll know the procedure on arrival home.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

First 'proper' outing...

First real suffering. There is a big difference between being fit and being 'race fit'. In mountainbiking that difference is all about being able to cope with the variations in intensity... something that it seems I'm not quite ready for yet.

It was telling that I felt great for the first 4 km (of a 40 km race!) then gradually struggled with the changes of pace. I was actually happy to get a flat, better that than gradually and painfully go backwards through the pack. After fixing it I started to enjoy the race and managed to hold steady lap time so all was not lost.

On a good note, the bike was fantastic. I've got it 99% set up and am relearning to ride a soft tail. If you want a fast race bike, or even a fast trail bike it makes sense. Even Oli B copied me and rode an Anthem X0!

P made the toughest decision and didn't race. With sinuses full of snot it was a wise choice, better to not race and get better in a couple of days than to get a beating, not feel happy with your performance and get better in a couple of weeks.

Good to see Morris in action again... and even better to see him stay on the bike to finish. The start of things to come!

Short on photos I'm afraid. Technical issues. One from the phone though, what would you choose to get you and your bike to the race... a Ferrari with a bike rack? I wouldn't... but this driver would. Clearly a lifestyle choice!

Off to Majorca tomorrow... happy days :)

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Bold Move...

That phrase always makes me think of belting back from Rotorua in NZ with P and Warwick. The sun was setting and we were driving straight into the glare. After a couple of hundred km's there was a thick coat of bugs and dust on the windscreen and, in a moment of madness, I decided to go for the full 'squirt and wipe' procedure with the wipers. The inevitable happened and visibility was reduced to zero. As we shot towards the now hidden future no one spoke... until Warwick muttered quietly 'Bold Move'.

Since then that's become a kind of a silent catchphrase for me. Whenever a nettle has needed grasping or a metaphorical spot needed squeezing I'm transported back to the interior of an early 90's Purple Ford Telstar crammed full of bikes and smelly cycling kit.

Squirt and wash... and trade temporary blindness in the face of oncoming traffic and a curvaceous road?... or stick with blurred vision and the sense that things are not-quite-right?

Never an easy decision. So I'm always impressed when someone takes a big decision - just like Greg of MudandCowbells. Reading his blog was a stimulating factor in starting my own... and I've enjoyed being motivated by his posts and challenged by his motivations. He's made a big decision and I'm impressed... good luck Greg!