Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Getting my rocks off.......and tea at The Goring for GOSH and KidsCo

My toes don't ache! Everything else does though.........quite a lot!

I've just returned from an amazing time training with Tamsin Jones, one of only two British women to complete the Dakar. Tamsin runs www.blackdeserttraining.com in Wales with Craig Bounds and she generously offered to give me some tuition.

Could this possibly have been my best day yet! My steed for the day was a Yamaha (sorry not a complete biker yet - can't remember the model - it was blue ?!). A 250cc(?) 4 stroke; lovely smooth power delivery, forgiving and goodness it helped me achieve all sorts of terrain and going that a month ago I would have baulked at and frankly wandered off to find the nearest bus stop!

First we rode out of the valley to the Welsh mountains. If one thing would make me relax into the riding, it was the scenery, it is breathtaking.

We started off with some basic bike control and techniques, lots of slow work and standing up on the bike properly. Tamsin is incredibly encouraging. We talked about dealing with nerves, breathing correctly, relaxing on the bike and getting those shoulders down! Talked about belief in the bike too, the bike can do it. Like anything in life, if you're relaxed or at least free to move without tension, you perform so much better.

Then the excitement started!

We started off with ruts, sitting through them, standing through them - then ensued the first off - one of those flicky off jobs!

Next exercise was steep ascents. We stopped on a gravelly path and Tamsin told me that just a little further was a right hand turn and a steep ascent. It was cunningly disguised with some fluffy green and innocent luscious looking ferns!! Tams re-iterated trusting the bike, let it do its job and power on up the slope looking ahead and above. Well, bloomin nora, this particular ascent was not only very steep but covered in rocks, the smallest being about the size of a football! Cripes! I did it though! Wow! Then at the top had to brake rather sharpish where Tams was waiting and a steep descent in a load of squishy mud appeared, arghhh.....but managed that too.

I think I rode from one side of Wales to the other along ruts - okay, it was probably a mile or so, at the time however it felt like at least the width of a country! The ruts were of the narrow variety and with incredibly sticky, squelchy, squerchy mud - Shrek would have loved it!

Next a wood, it was raining by now, lots of slippery pine needles and tree roots. I came around one quite tight tree-lined bend feeling 'well chuffed' and then spotted three rather slippy and awkward looking tree roots. Arghh - so remembered the techniques - no sudden braking, maintain the throttle, pull in the clutch slightly and look where you're going - planning! I did it and in my sheer excitement and exuberance I think I must have looked down so that's where I ended up next. oop! We then did lots of trails, woods, water, slippery rocks, big rocks. Discovered that my boots leak - lost count of the number of water starts I did.

Funnily enough, there's lots of sheep on the mountains and it would appear that they either ignore the bikes completely or come straight at you skipping and seemingly larking about. They're bonkers, I thought, and then thought - hmm - pots and kettles?!

Tams kept the pressure on and the pace up all day, we had a lovely lunch stop and once or twice stopped to take some pics - in truth I just needed a breather. She is very positive and enthusiastic and didn't tell me too much about some of the stuff I was going to tackle which was great, no time to faff about or worry - just on and at it! Just after lunch we did some steep descents and played around with control on steep loose surfaces and braking. Then did a momentum exercise over a fallen stone wall - loose surface - understatement of the year. Nearly bottled that one ....but didn't hurrah!

Then did some hill starts on aforementioned steep rocky ascent - success ( bit of cussing and unscheduled stalls but did it).

The afternoon as Tams described it; ' some nice trail rides across the other side of the mountain' . Ooo I thought, excellent, I can chill and enjoy the view for a bit - wrong! More ruts, rocks, more rocks, water, more rocks, ruts, mud, more mud, water, rocks ......there's a pattern forming. Mid-afternoon, we were riding through a farm and a huge cow dawdled out onto the track ahead of us. It was sort of sashaying down the track so that we couldn't overtake, very amusing. If I could have stopped and hugged that cow, I would have. A little rest whilst behind a swaggering cow's backside was oddly a nice little reprieve!

At one point, I'd stalled (again) on the edge of a rut, a rock and well fresh air and I could see the next gate we were going to just around a corner next to a field of sheep - that should be a nice little grassy track to the gate I thought. Wrong again, more rocks, water, green looking rocks - that definitely means slippy. Hours and miles and it was truly fantastic, achieved riding over terrain that a month ago a girly tantrum would have ensued for sure! Tams shouted over, 'if you can do this Kate, the Pyrenees will be easy', I was thinking, if I can do this, anything life throws at me will be easy!

Thanks Tamsin for pushing me way beyond my comfort zone and out the other side and for the endless support, smiles and generosity. Thanks Craig too. The Pyrenees is now truly in my sights!

Fabulousness Auction update;
Traditional Afternoon Tea at The Goring Hotel (where Princess Catherine stayed with her family the night before her marriage to Prince William) - get those bids in!

In this pic - end of day and soo exhausted it's silly! Not however as exhausted as the guys who did the Romaniacs! Wow! Well done Ross!

PS. test rode another bike yesterday evening..........watch this space!

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