Recently, I had my first mountain bike lesson with Katy Curd at the Forest of Dean. Katy is multiple British 4X champion and one of the top 5 female downhill mountain bikers in the world right now. She is also a very highly rated coach and I for one had heard nothing but good things from those who had benefited from sessions with her already. With an attempt at a 2 day enduro race looming on the calendar for next weekend I thought I had better get involved myself.
As I find myself entering a new chapter of my life, I have been spending a lot of time thinking about what’s important to me and how to balance work time, versus play time. A big element of that has been the way horses seem to be creeping their way back onto the scene. With a lot else going on I’ve been struggling to find time to keep up the blog posts so I’ve decided to simply share some of my ponderings with you all.
Topmost of the list this week is – what is it about horses? Why can I not escape them? I’ve even tried leaving the country a good few times and I just seem to end up working with them abroad too! You often hear people using the saying “Ah, well it’s in her blood you see.” By this I don’t think they mean you’ve inherited your passion. I think what they really mean is more of a literal thing, like it’s an incurable disease. Which would also explain the “she’s been bitten by the bug” saying.
“You looked like a startled rabbit caught in the headlights” – this is how my newfound buddies for the day later described my facial expression as I kitted up at the car on arrival. It is also how I felt! Though the UK enduro series events are also still new to the scene it felt like there were much bigger crowds at this race and with the fantastic setting in the grounds of an old private boarding school I was feeling a little overwhelmed. Luckily I didn’t realise until afterwards that the likes of Katy Winton, Greg Callaghan and Kye Forte were also racing or I probably never would have got out the car!
The morning of race day dawned with perfect clear blue skies and the most stunning drive up through Wales into the Brecon Beacons to find the quaint little village of Talybont-on-usk. The event organisers Trailevents had picked a great location here with all the facilities you could need all within easy walking distance. There was a small shop, cafe, 4 pubs, toilets in the village hall registration area and the campsite where we parked for a small fee of £5 also included a proper toilet block with hot showers – massive bonus!
The only thing marring this perfect morning was the return of the dreaded chronic nerves. I thought I had started to get them under control last weekend but they seemed to be back in full swing that morning. I’m putting it down to the race being over a much longer distance than my previous ones and only having ever run that distance once in training. I’m also beginning to learn, much to my own self denial, that I am quite a competitive soul so to just finish is not good enough for me, I have to do respectably well in my own eyes.
In a rather fine example of my superior prior planning skills the Sunday morning after my hilly Exmoor race saw me leaving the house at 6am for a nearly 3hr drive to the hills of Wales for my first mountain bike race! This was to be round 4 of the Welsh Gravity Enduro series at Affan forest parks’ Glyncorrwg mountain bike centre. Now I’m not going to lie I was pretty damn nervous about the whole thing, with no real idea what to expect having never even been to watch a mountain bike race and being pretty new to the sport overall. However one of the things I love most about mountain biking is the down to earth, friendly, outgoing people it attracts.Bringing all these people together in a shared love of the slightly crazy sport of hurtling down a muddy, rooty, rock covered, big hill as fast as possible sounded like it could make for a pretty awesome day out. So off I went…….
The dramatic scenery of the Exmoor national park coast certainly lived up to all the hype at the Endurancelife organised Coastal Trail series race on Saturday 9th April. It was the perfect opportunity for me to put my personal resolution NOT to get so stressed about it being a race into practice. Instead I wanted to enjoy this opportunity to run in a new place on a course chosen specifically to showcase the best that area has to offer. This race certainly did that with views so stunning it raised a new problem of trying to take it all in whilst keeping at least some focus on foot placement. The narrow little path hugging the cliff face that we were following didn’t leave much room for error!
With temperatures rising, lighter nights arriving and the trails finally starting to dry out, what better time than now to set yourself some summer goals. Goal setting doesn’t always have to revolve around racing or beating your Strava time, there are many other ways to enjoy your time on a bike. For many a good goal may be just to stop for one minute, once a ride, to enjoy where you are and what you’re doing.
Stopping to enjoy the view, much to Mawlis great disgust!
Goal setting as an idea however is a good one. It can aid us with motivation, progressing our skills, pushing our own personal limits and creating opportunities to try new things.
Here are my 8 best suggestions to help you build your own personal list –
How many times as a runner have you come across the incomprehension of non-runners upon announcing your intention to head out for a long run or intervals session. They screw their face up tight, frown and bark out WHY??? Or better yet come out with the cocky “Where’s the lion?” Coach Kevin Smith has the perfect response –
“People ask why I run. I say if you have to ask you will never understand. It is something only those select few know. Those who put themselves through pain but deep down know how good it feels.”
I am willing to bet that almost all of the readers of this blog will have at some point benefitted from the kindness of volunteers. They fill a vital role in the running of every event we all enjoy so much yet do we take them for granted? I have recently been unable to participate in a couple of my planned trail running races due to injury so I took the opportunity to gain a different perspective and volunteered instead.
I felt volunteering would be a worthwhile way to combat my initial frustration at being out of action. It gave me a way to still be involved in the excitement of race day and meet other like minded individuals that share my love of running.
Proceedings at the start line of the Hameldown Hammer were supervised by chief marshall – Mrs Ewe
On the overcast, drizzly morning of Saturday 20th February I joined approximately 30 other female mountain bike fanatics for a day on the trails at Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire. This excellent opportunity to meet not just other like minded ladies but also the talented 2014 Downhill World champion Manon Carpenter was the brainchild of the team at Strongher.