I've been having a great time the last couple of month, playing on my mountain bike, riding for fun, running for fun, not stepped foot in the swimming pool though! Ironically I feel fitter now than I did when I did switzerland.
I feel so free not staring at my HRM, worrying about eating enough/eating right, sleeping enough, doing too much, training enough. Now I', just doing what I fancy, when i want to and bloody loving it.
So this mountain biking milarky then....
I'd booked into this mountain bike beginners training day the week after the IM as I thought it would be something to do to keep moving, but nothing tough. So I rocked up with a few other mates on my old "black pony" and did this course, learnt a few minor skills (wheel lift and sort of bunny hop) and after went with some of the guys who were running the course round "the croft trail" which i never knew existed but was great! A man made single track trail right near where i live.
After this i got the bug a bit, bought a gorgeous new bike which i'm so in love with it's obscene, joined the MB club who'd run the course and before I knew it had signed up for 2 events - bike fest and this event.
I'd never done much off roading, i thought off road meant like those old disused railway track type things, man was I wrong!
The purpose of this event was to get myself a bit used to long time on a mtb as the bike fest thing was an 8 hour race.
So the Afan Monster was a choice of 75km and 100km route, when i told people I was doing it, I got laughed at, and told I was going to die. Great. Of course some of you know what I'm like - tell me I cant do something and I'm going to damn well prove you wrong! The website described it as the toughest ride there is and although I knew physically and mentally I was up to the challenge my skills weren't!
Some of the guys from club also signed up for it and agreed to babysit me round, I'd never done any proper trail rides before and had no idea what to expect, what i did know is that I hate rocks, roots and going downhilll.... good call Anna!
I was picked up by chris and Simon at stupid oclock and we had a good laugh all the way down. Phil had taken our bikes down in the van so we all got there and put our bikes together, went and got our numbers and set off.
The first mile went straight up a fire road, I don't mind hills too much, but not everyone was keen! But I knew that going up, meant coming down at some point. For mtb'ers this is the whole point, not so much for me - Miss Brakey Joe! The first descent was mostly back down fire road which was a bit skiddy - esp when you're strangling the brakes like i was!
It took 3 miles for the first mechanical - chris showing off to someone taking a pic, doing a big old bunny hop, landed funny and "bang" there went his back wheel, buckled as you like, the boys faffed for a while trying to straighten it, before deciding to get down the hill which passed by the start and get chris a new wheel. He had to get a lift off to find a shop and decided to meet us further down the ride.
It took a further mile before my first crash of the day, it wasnt very spectacular, I just sort of splatted into a bush going down a rocky bit of single track. The boys are always saying "go faster and you won't fall off" which i want to believe but it's bloody scary when ou're flying over rocks and hit a wet root and face plant a tree! the first section of the ride went along the trail known as "The Wall" which was really rocky and rooty and you'd have sheer drops down to the side of you, one mistake and game over!
The day was hard, the weather was beautiful the views and scenery were amazing!. The hills were tough and long, some bits unpassable on bike and had to be pushed, the descents for me were much tougher. As the day went on, i was becoming mroe confident rolling over anyhting and even getting a bit of speed at times!
After 2.5 hours of riding, we'd just got to the top of an mammoth climb - around 6km! I looked at my computer and we'd only done 16 miles! I could have run that far in this time. It was crazy, on the road i'd have covered that in less than an hour, but this was a totally different kettle of fish and I liked it!
We regrouped at the top and met up with another group, the guy at the back was really struggling, I hung out with him for a bit and literlly pushed him up the rest of the hill - and nearly fell in a ditch!
I had several more crashes throughout the day, and there were more mechanicals for the group - punctures and the like, we then lost Simon for half an hour somehow!
My favourite bit of the ride was the trail known as "Skyline" it was a really nice single track, which ended up weaving down through the woods to the road, the guys had gone off ahead and I was merrily picking my way down and i got hooked on a rock (i was going too slowly) and I sort of got suspended in mid air and to my left vertically was the bushed/rocks (soft landing) to my right, a sheer drop, I needed o fall left, but unfortunatly i fell right, I felt my heart stop as I tumbled, I shit my pants like never before. My bike miraculously didnt come with me, but I grabbed at handfuls of grass and managed to pull mysefl back up, properly shaking.
I tentatively got back on and started picking back down the hill, Simon had waited for me just ahead and i told him i'd just shit myself.
When I got to the bottom onto the road the guys were waiting and said they had bad news...
We'd not made the cut off due to all the mechanicals we'd had, and the last 20km could take us 2 hours without mechanical probs so we had to wait and get a lift back :(
I'd never DNF'd before and was disgusted... we joked about this for the rest of the day/eve (still are in fact)
This report no way nears sums up how great a time I had and how much it boosted my confidence and I can't wait to go back.