Wednesday, 26 October 2011

I Hurt My Face

The problem is this. There I was, all going quickly and beating the other girls in my category and all of that, generally feeling like I was a bit fit and wasn't this nice. Even up hill. When bosh. Face-plant at the side of the track, bleeding nose, bashed mouth, waiting for paramedics with 100 riders zooming past yelling "Are you alright?". Well- to all of those people- No, actually. But thanks for asking.
Especial thanks to the gentleman who allowed my to bleed onto his glove for the best part of half an hour, whilst saying kind things. How gentlemanly in fact was that? Offering a lady his glove (to staunch a nosebleed). V Jane Austen.

I now have a Met Parachute, ordered on Wiggle a mere day later. I will look like a knob with a full-face, albeit very light XC full-face helmet. But hopefully my teeth will stay intact, which they nearly didn't (one kindof shifted in, which is ick), and my nose will stay straightand not incur any (more) scarring.

I still like Mountain Biking more than the road mind you. At least I didn't come off and get run over by a lorry, having left all my skin and lycra as a paste on the road.

Hey-ho. Perhaps soon I will stop feeling like I have been kicked by a horse.

Monday, 12 September 2011


I now appear to be 10th. The joy of timing chip people. Better than 12th, but not as good as Small Girl Timing. Perhaps I'll stick with hers!

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40k of Sun and Fun

Well, yesterday. After a super-early start (pre 6am! Arg!), I got to Whipsnade in time to faff (where are my arm warmer/gilet/phone/keys/gel- repeat this at intervals with much pocket patting and car door opening).
Contrary to the forecast it was blue and lovely.
I was slightly unsettled to see how many fit looking club-type riders there were, and was beginning to wonder if my timing prediction that led to me setting off in the first wave was over optimistic. There was a bit of nervous circling and trying to warm up whilst chatting a bit to other ladies. I am not used to not having the children and husband send me off, but people were really friendly.
I ended up absolutely at the front, under the jealous makingly pretty nose of the lovely Victoria Pendleton.

At 9 we were off. Two women were ahead of me for some time, while I pedalled frantically hoping to catch a tow from one of them. I expected any moment a massive lady-peleton to sweep past me. But oddly it never happened. Did a mass crash happen at the start? Were marshalls desperately trying to call us back? A couple more women came past and I stuck with them for a bit, but not enough to draft, which had been my best hope prior to the race. My Garmin showed my heart rate right on the edge and I was sure I couldn't keep it up, despite the welcome distraction of the marvellous countryside. But I did keep it up, counting down the miles, knowing that the famous Bison Hill was to come. On Bison Hill, surely the peletonette would munch me, given my shocking inability to climb.
It didn't happen. And as I passed the finish a small girl said I was 7th over the line. And getting in so early meant I bagged a lovely massage and got rid of the hideous cramp that had set in.

I am properly pleased with myself (even though my setting off at the front meant that a few more of the women behind got better times and I came 12th in the end). As a slow coach multiple mummy with a tricky job and a lactate phobia, 12th out of more than 600 is flipping great for me. Almost makes me want to do time trials (almost), but I guess that is the point of Cycletta and Sky Rides. To encourage women to ride, or to ride better or faster and know that it is possible, not just for the sponsored skinny chaps, but for the rest of us. I'll leave the skin suits though, thank you very much.

Millions of thanks to Minx for anti-big bum riding solutions, and millions of thanks too for the Cycletta. It was a great experience.
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Saturday, 10 September 2011

What to wear?

Nice old mountain bike ride I had on Thursday. If the truth be told, I still enjoy it heck of a lot more than road riding. I don't want to diss triathletes but (lots of MTB sentences start like this- some of my best friends are triathletes. Honest) a chap on a Triathlon club ride once asked me why it was I rode on gravel and how it was enjoyable. Simply speaking it is more fun, and a lot more fun at that. On the road you can whizz faster,still see some pretty countryside and go hey-ho-zippy fast as a car down hill, which is exhilarating, especially if you imagine for a fleeting moment what will happen should you lose it. On a mountain bike you can, for one, see amazing countryside with hardly anyone in it, and for , on a good ride, you can be utterly engaged in "The Flow" whatsit for massive amounts of your ride. Or else you fall off. Not in a brains spattered all over the road way, but in a bruisy knees, ego munching way generally. Often with accompanying giggling.
Anyway, this "Flow" is the key to it- reading a trail ahead at a little speed means processing a lot of information, making tiny weeny back of brain decisions constantly, and the odd biggy, sod the drop-off type decision.
If you want to do it properly fast you absolutely have any gas-bill/annoying person at work sort of thoughts utterly squashed out, which frankly is as good a thing as you can get legally (although this can happen in sex, you cannot easily crash during it, unless you are a good deal more adventurous than me, allowing the possibility of gas-bills if one's heart is not in it). This is absolutely not that I think mountain biking is better than sex in any way. Absolutely not. It is also borderline scary (biking that is), and being on the edge of controlling it,either speed wise or skills wise.
The other thing is exuberance and playfulness. Hairy mountain bikers will not admit to being in any way playful or frolicky to their mates, but will whoop like comedy cowgirls, hopping and skidding and arsing around. I like this. There is not enough whooping in modern life.
Ladies, I exhort you once more, get on your bikes and get muddy and whoop and forget your bad stuff. And then have a welshcake and a cup of tea.

Anyway. Cycletta tomorrow. And what to wear? Autumn is such a gear headache.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011


I feel my fitness ebbing. Where the hecky hey did I get the time to endurance-up in the past month? All of a sudden time seems scarce. And I have a lack of arsed-ness I am looking for something to perk me up.
Adventure racing friend had a fine time last weekend in the Lakes, which sounded good. There's something going on in Cardiff. There's Dusk til Dawn. That's a bit soon though and I have this weekend bagged by Cycletta and Oktoberfest a few weeks later. Perhaps I need to settle down a bit.

Then there's Strathpuffer- the 24 hours of Scottish Snow-Hell. I like night riding, I don't like it too warm, I am well hard me. I'm not too hot on mud mind. Well not for 24 hours anyway.

Or then again I could just keep myself up for 2 straight days on the turbo in the dark in wet smelly clothes, eating jelly beans and drinking strong coffee whilst smashing bike parts with a hammer.

Oh well, let's get the Cycletta done, try and get in with some fast ladies, hang on and give it some beans on the hill. I need to get there from Brizzle in time first though. Speaking of sleep deprivation and orienteering.
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Monday, 5 September 2011

Ow. Running Is Wrong.

Went for an hour or so's run yesterday, over the hilly hills of South Devon, where my conveniently placed parents live. It was beautiful down by the river Avon, babbling water, green fields, the possibility of otters (the merest possibility is enough for me: they hide well you know). Dragonflies as big as your arm. All of this served as some distraction from the horrible discomfort of running, which as an owner of a wonky pelvis and tight Ilio-tibeal band is somewhat of a trial. But really it is the best get-fit-quick way of helping that top end of zone fitness bit (I could almost be a coach me, if I had only listened in physiology.)

I have a tendency when cycling to be the fitness equivalent of a trusty diesel 4 by 4 rather than a race-tuned hot hatch (as it were). I can truck on quite happily with my pulse jammed on 135 all day long, but deathly slowly. I want to get me some of them fast legs, and I'm afraid that that involves if not a brush with the Hurt Locker, then at least the Substantial Discomfort Locker. This is not a particular problem with the comedy Postman Pat style hills around Kingsbridge. There is no down without an up (and a down, and another up, and a down: and repeat).

Anyhoo. My leggies hurt today- inner thighs believe it or not, as opposed to knees, which I take to be a good thing, and I shall be bringing it up with @markjohnpilates. Who is an actual minor deity of musculoskeletal advice and chicken anecdotes.

More cycling later this week, hopefully with some other girlies. If not, I shall be hitting the road (hopefully just metaphorically) on Thursday.

Thursday, 1 September 2011


Had my first pop on a 29'er today, kindly loaned by Strada (an astute financial move on their account, I should say). A hard-tail, big beast Trek. There are legends of how comfortable and stable they are, and how they "roll well", and were tremendous fun.

Weeeeeeeeeell. Comfortable is perhaps over egging it. One has grown accustomed to modest yet hard working rear-suspension allowing terrible line choice, "Turning a mistake into a possibility", as the lovely Mr Cooksley says. It also stops the rear of the bike kicking you up the bottom when you barrel over a bump. I am prepared to go along with the forgiving a rubbish line bit to a certain extent, but my bum was thoroughly kicked going over the stuttery bumps on the Quarry Trail at Ashton Court. It does seem to go whizzy fast though. And it was fun and very stable and nimble and other good words. And I didn't fall off and the Ghost Dog that apparently roams the woods at night didn't get me, and I was brave despite the owl sound effects.

It was dark, mind, which distorts things a wee bit, especially as I have still not replaced my poor lost head torch. Just bar mounted fellows, however bright, are not the same.
"You've always been a thorn in their side. But to me you're a shining light. You arrive and the night is alive. Yeah, you are a shining light."
This is no longer true. Use your lanyard sisters. Never leave a torch unlit on your helmet in the dusky woods without one.