Monday, 19 March 2007

Went for a little night ride with the boys again this week. We rock up to the carpark, chat whilst throwing our bikes together, check our wheels are on tight and our lights are charged and of we go. It’s not far, not epic. We know the hills so if we are a little underprepared it doesn’t matter too much. Does it?
On Thursday 5 started and 2 turned back after a couple of hours. We 3 remaining brave soldiers had a particular tricky and swooping descent in mind at the other end of the range of hills and set off through the night to find it. Soon we split up as two parallel tracks seared away from each other on a deafening downhill. 2 one side, 1 the other. A few achingly long minutes later we were reunited but not after some tricksy heartbeats and a few worried glances. Mike’s light came bobbing up the hill towards us and we let out our held breaths. Ground rules were set and we rode on to find the perfect descent.
It was amazing. The river to our right was roaring with the weight of water recently fallen. The river was close and then it dropped away and the roaring sound was metres below, nothing between the slippery singletrack we hurtled down and a sharp and rocky fall.
On the way back over the top back to the carpark we three were excitable and hearty. It was worth the risk and the late night. 3 hours had passed and I still had a drive back to Bristol. But it was worth it. Now it was getting cold and started to rain. Rain turned to slush and slid horizontal as the wind picked up. It didn’t matter. We were on our way back in.
Mike’s chain broke. Borrowed bike, no saddlebag. No tools. I had a chainbreaker bought at ASDA and a rusty quicklink and saved the day. Teeth chattered.
Chain broke again. Quicker fix this time. Granny cog only. Teeth chattered, shoulders shook, back tense with absolute, frightful cold.
Pedal, pedal, pedal. Let’s get warm. Scream. Mike’s front tyre blew out. Crashed. Broken light. Bleep Bleep. Bloody Bleep.
Borrowed bike, how do you get this wheel off? Has anyone got any spare clothes? Food? Who brought a mobile phone? Ah.
Tube fixed and in we limp. Frozen, miserable, edges of worry visible through the jokes. Jaw tense and fingers throbbing with the pain of cold. But it’s our local hills. We know these hills. (The weather doesn’t care).
Piss poor preparation and planning. Never again.


Friday, 2 March 2007

Top night out

I had a brilliant night out with the lads last night. The venue was great – brilliant lighting, great atmosphere, good conversation and cheap drinks. We danced – of sorts – and ended up sweaty and tired a few hours later and really really hungry (although resisted a kebab on the way home). Conversation was flowing, although a little difficult to hear at times. Trouble was the lads spent all night taking the micky out of my outfit and for the state of my hair and makeup.
Yeah, it was great. Quantock night ride, dancing down the muddy singletrack, slurping High 5, chatting above the noise of the wind, starry sky and perfect full moon. Returning to the carpark with mud-spattered grins and rumbling bellies, our muddy tyres crunching through newly frosted puddles.
Perfect night out.


Thursday, 1 March 2007


Yeeehaa. Back with the fast again after months of long, slow miles. This year is all about racing, racing, racing - requiring me to be utterly selfish with my time (nothing being quite so painful as getting up on a Monday morning to work when every bone in your body and every cell in your head wants the comfort of a duvet); it means I miss out on the occasional fun thing in the rush to get the demands of all three jobs out of the way before the weekend comes; but it's oh-so-worth-it. I realised a while ago that there is a very specific point in every racing day which is the reason why, though it's not the why I thought it was. In the darker corner of winter, mulling over whether my plans were idle musings or made with true intent, I pinned it down to the moments before the go, when we're all standing there on the line and the easy chat between friends who meet in fields has ceased and given way to tension between rivals, when the efforts to come cease to be vague lurking shadows and snap into sharp focus, when the adrenaline can't be diverted into nervous twitching and the tying and re-tying of shoe laces any longer... Then comes the purest rush of energy that is incomparable to pretty much everything I've ever done.

And after weathering that emotional rollercoaster, well, riding flat out in circles for a couple of hours is just a /breeze/...