Sunday, April 10, 2011

Well, some boys don't ever grow up, do they?

Wow blooming wee! What a weekend this one has been. Confidence has ebbed and flowed as much as the spring tide!
Friday evening we watched David Knight - one of the world's top (if not the best) Enduro Rider - on DVD, borrowed from Gary - that served to be mighty impressive and inspiring, as well as ever so slightly frightening the pants off me!
On Saturday, Mr T and I attended our first Enduro practice event hosted by EnduroLand in Houghton Conquest. We went to the Dads and Kids, and Novice and Newcomer (I wore that particular description especially well!) day. Well, I started getting anxious on the way - bikes loaded on the back of Mr T's Dodge, eldest daughter at Brownie camp and littlest with Granny and Grandad. Then when we rounded a corner on the track up to the farm and I saw a line of vans, trailers and more enduro bikes in a field than I've ever seen in my life, the nerves kicked in big time! Excellent! Arghhhh!
The team at EnduroLand were absolutely wonderful, sensed how nervous I was (pale, not speaking) and the elegant lady who sorted our registrations who I'm ashamed to say, I didn't get her name, was fantastic, supportive and encouraging all day. Even, when my anxiety had enabled me to have a senior moment in the morning and arrive with no cash other than euros to pay my fees - it was only near Bedford - not a passport zone! For the charming lady (ex-eventer and dressage rider) this was no problem and my euros were accepted. Signed our disclaimers and were given our bright orange wristbands, which have to be displayed every time you go across the start line. Goodness I can be ditzy when nervous!
So, we had our briefing, so far so good, understood that. Off to get the bikes, again relatively easy. Good good.
We all assembled and I must say the noise of the bikes revving and ready for the off is superb. There were twelve of us in the Novice and Newcomer group and what a delightful group too.
So, start line, sharp right up quite a steep hill (for me), bit of sort of uneven 'stuff' , steep hill down but short, all okay so far, inside still quaking like a leaf mind! Then I got caught mid way up a hill, some one had stalled I had one of those shall I go this way or that way moments - not good, slowed down, lost traction, stopped and stalled. Well , it sort of went down hill, metaphorically speaking, from there, few metres, minor panic, stall, fall off, can't start it, start it, few metres, minor panic, fall off, can't start get the picture. By this point I'm being lapped quite a lot. Then one of the course Marshalls, a lovely chap called Rob came to give me a few words of wisdom and support and was about to have probably the longest hour of his life! My confidence at this stage was either in my boots or perhaps completely lost under a bumpy bit some time back!
My lap in all took an hour and 15 mins - most of our group were doing upwards of 5 laps in our alloted hour. At one point, Rob mentioned a 'recluse clutch' which I mistook for some dry humour about my clutch control! I have since discovered that it is a piece of kit that might be very helpful. So, I continued and Rob encouraged me all the way, which I have to say was great, I was uber close to thinking maybe I'd over challenged myself and would have to raise money for Great Ormond Street and Kids Co some other way - any other way!
The final part of the circuit was a descent - cripes c 45degrees! Arggh! After some frankly rather pathetic dithering on my part, Rob rode my bike down and I got a lift down with Tony, who didn't even start his engine down said descent - that was cool! Tony was also fabulously supportive and kindly said that that's what the novice days were for. I think I was possibly pre-novice, novice.
Next up was lunch, hurrah - I can do that! A buffet, tea with sugar (don't take sugar but needed it) and cake - just what I needed along with some great support from both the people at Enduroland, lovely lady on registration desk and the group we were with. Met a lovely lady who had been off-road riding for about a year and her husband, a road biker, like Mr T and now enjoying off-road. A lovely lady with fab short spiky hair asked me how many laps I'd done, to which I replied 'one'. 'The familiarisation and then one?' - 'no, just the familiarisation' was my response! Well, every journey ....and all that..... Eeeek!
Whilst we were having lunch the kids and dads were off again, they were absolutely amazing and a joy to watch - some of the little ones, were very little and their bike skills just stonking!
Over lunch, I was all for copping out in the afternoon however with the support of Mr T, the spiky haired lady and the lady in pink, Rob then said that he'd accompany me around the course again if I would like. So, as you can imagine, I do at least know in my job that if you're going to even nearly achieve anything, you have to practice and overcome the wobbly, 'stuck' moments. So , I did and 20 minutes later, I was round and only fell off and stalled twice. Had lots of thumbs up from Mr T , lady with funky spiky hair and lady in pink. Just the descent to do, Tony had appeared at this point as had Mr T who was beginning to look more like a pro with every lap, in fact one lap, I didn't recognise him until he was in the distance after he'd streaked past. Tony asked if I'd like for him to keep people at the top whilst I tackled the descent, I agreed and with that incentive and not wishing to hold anyone up, I did it and was chuffed to bits at the bottom. I then decided to quit whilst ahead with a big grin and a lot richer in experience! Yippee!
Thanks so much Enduroland, Rob, Tony, encouraging lady on registration, the lovely group we were with, the lady in pink and the lady with the funky hair both of whom gave me a thumbs up on my last lap.
When we got home, so keen as was I, if a bit hot - we went out again - locally. Did the ditch again, rode the ruts and had a fab time with Mr T. Met a chap who rides an R1 and was on a spotless off-road Honda 650, not a mark on it - he had recognised my little GasGas from the local paper and asked Mr T if I was that "Lady from Litlington..." We had a natter, he passed on a few tips and then on he went, on his back wheel. Discovered that my clutch was dragging and my handle bars weren't quite in alignment with my forks - oop - that must have happened on one of the many spills I suspect - oop!
Today, we all went out, Mr T, Gary, Donna and I. Well, lovin' it as I am - being out with a British champ, tip top mate Gary, and Mr T all ' razzing it' rather - rendered Mrs T in a cloud of dust on rather too many occasions - that's an incentive to improve if nothing else. My nerves were getting the better of me initially and then I became aware that Gary was riding alongside doing the odd wheelie and jumping the odd huge pile of chalk just because he could. That made me smile lots and the angst dissolved. Watching Gary and Donna roaring about was fantastic and the way Donna handles a bike is just awesome!
Rest assured GOSH and KidsCo - with a team like this, confidence in place and about 5 months to go - we're on the way!
NB. On Saturday night, we showed my parents a few clips from the David Knight DVD of the Weston Beach Race (which Donna has done - huge, massive, 'normous respect - wow) and Mr T commented that he didn't fancy it however if it was a group of five year old boys in the sand with their bikes they'd just love it - Granny very drily commented 'Well, some boys don't ever grow up, do they?' ....... where would be the fun in that ........or girls for that matter!

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