Monday, September 12, 2011

What goes up - must come down! GUEST POST FROM MR T

What goes up - must come down, there is no such thing as a free lunch, many a mickle makes a muckle, if I knew what the last one meant, that too may also apply to the challenging trip from which we have just returned. The first one is obvious. The 'lunch' in the second refers to the fantastic views we witnessed from the top of various Pyrennean peaks, which you too may have enjoyed in photographic form from the comfort of your PC. You will have realised that the 'no such thing as...' is the treacherous ascent on two wheels, to be followed by an even more hazardous descent!

In the early stages, whilst informing people of the planned trip in the attempt to secure sponsorship, a large proportion responded very positively assuming the undertaking was to be completed on mountain bikes. When informed that motorised transport were to be involved, a number looked somewhat sceptical, under the impression that there would be little challenge involved with an engine doing the hard graft. Yeah, right! The number of times one can drag a 140KG motorcycle 20 metres up a rock strewn 45 degree slope is very definitely limited to no more than twice an hour, (in my case, anyway). In fact, there are ample opportunities to do oneself some serious damage, or worse.........

Whilst I didn't break anything, or even ruin my GOSH riding kit with blood stains, I did have a rather alarming episode on the descent to lunch on day two. The descent in question was a rocky mountain stream bed, mostly dry, but slimy here and there and very narrow, perhaps no more than a foot wide in places. Add boulders, the odd errant cow, and all in 30 plus degrees heat, and things begin to get tricky. The final section was in excess of a kilometre, (could have been two for all I know), and wearing helmet, goggles and body armour, all added to an overheating rider, even the trusty KTM boiled up twice in sympathy! At the bottom, the trail turned to 9 inches of sticky mud with assorted rocks. Lacking the energy to steer by now, a rock caught the rear wheel and had me off. Stepping off, I was happy to let the bike fall whilst I attempted to catch my breath. Young Gary, waiting at the bottom, came and rescued the bike and rode to firm ground for me, I had neither the energy or will to pick the bike up myself...

Three minutes later we were at our lunch stop, I was the last to arrive. Staggering in, I sat down but had no interest in eating. Fifteen minutes later, I was still panting, my heart pounding and my T-shirt soaked. Interestingly, I later learned that the first aiders were getting alarmed at this stage, as I had turned grey and they were desperately trying to think of reasons why they shouldn't be the one to administer CPR! Really, I had shaved and brushed my teeth that morning! Anyway, a selection of isotonic pouches and a couple of litres of fluids later, I was ready - to quit! It took a couple of hours to return to my normal chirpy self.

On a few occasions, I would have happily have pointed the KTM down the mountain and given it a shove. So, bearing all of the above in mind, and that I have been riding motorcycles, albeit on the road, for longer than I would care to admit, I hope this helps you appreciate what Kate has achieved. In fact, only Gary managed to complete the whole three days, upholding the honour of the Enduro Challenge Team. I wouldn't have missed it for the world, but never imagined the level of bike control, fitness or skill required to conquer the trails, well done Mrs T!

Finally, without exception, the other 'off-roaders' who were riding the same route were top geezers, so we are still to encounter a dodgy biker, perhaps they don't actually exist......

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