This weekend has been the greatest reminder for me of why I want to have a go at this enduro racing malarkey. It was so much fun that each day ended with me just wanting to head back out and ride more, despite aching legs. First a little explanation of what had me smiling so much…..
As my last post briefly mentioned I have a swanky new ride. An Orbea Rallon x30 which I quite simply LOVE! Now I will allow you to admire his beauty for a while before we continue….
One of the things I love most about moving to a new area is the promise of miles and miles of new footpaths and bridleways to investigate. Top of my to do list on arrival is always to invest in an OS map. Many people out there, I believe, are missing out on the opportunity to discover so many fantastic trails, views and hidden beauty spots by sticking to following the same old routes they know or have found in their chosen guide book. Today I would like to help open your eyes to how easy it is to have your own micro adventure in the nearest available wild place – by going exploring.
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.
“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!
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…….
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.
It is with great pleasure that I formally introduce to you all my new super bike, Stumpy.
Or to give my beauty its formal title – Stumpjumper fsr expert carbon evo 650b.
ALPINE SINGLETRACK EXPERIENCE
In September Simon and I traveled to the pretty little Alpine village of Landry, France for our first experience of backcountry singletrack mountain biking. Normally, I’m the first person to scoff in disgust at the mere mention of the term ‘package holiday’ but in this case, taking into account our lack of big mountain experience of any kind, this seemed like the sensible option.
We chose to stay with Bike Village, a small company run and owned by a couple, Sam and Lyndsey. The package offers 7 nights’ accommodation in a homely old French farmhouse, complete with authentic wooden beams and 5 days guided mountain biking. Most importantly though, it also included breakfast, 2 lunches and a beautiful 2 course home cooked meal on every night except Wednesday (staff and biking day off.)
Now for the important bit – the biking. Continue reading