Yesterday afternoon I went back to the scene of the crime and it's fair to say, it was more of a challenge than I expected.
I know I've lost a lot of fitness (and put on a bit of weight) since the crash, so I've been putting in the effort over the last few weeks to try to get some of my fitness back. Going to the gym, taking the long, hilly route home and I've even been going running a few times a week!
So, when a friend suggested a ride at Innerleithen, I figured I should give it a bash. After all, I've got over the fear and I'm feeling a bit fitter again and it was time to face that demon.
The day didn't start well....hair appointment in the morning went well until they ran out of hot water mid-shampoo. So I was later than I had planned setting off to Innerleithen. Quick text to say I'm running late, but on my way. Then the road was closed and there was a big diversion. Second text to say I'd be quite a bit late now.
I eventually arrived feeling a bit stressed and surprisingly anxious!
We set off up the hill and almost straight away I started to feel a bit overwhelmed. I knew I should be able to ride at this pace, but I was really struggling. I was getting myself into a bit of a tizz and the more I tried to stay calm, the more nervous I was getting.
I knew it was ridiculous, but I realised I was going to have to face this demon on my own. So, a few deep breaths, slightly teary eyed, I made my apologies and set off on my own. A few minutes later and Chris caught me up...he knew how nervous I was so decided to ride with me...just to make sure.
The climb up to Minch Moor was tough. I kept plodding at my own pace, but I was in a much more noodly gear than I would usually be. I decided not to take the short cut and to keep pushing on up to the top, just to prove to myself that I could. The descent from the top, which is usually a super quick, whoopy ride was a bit more subdued than usual, but as I rode, my confidence started to grow a bit and I decided not to take the chicken run around the rocky drops.
I made the first one, went a bit faster off the second one, then let go of the brakes all together on the third. By the time I caught up with Chris at the next marker post, I was starting to grin.
There was a bit of a diversion because of logging work, so Chris suggested we go a slightly different way. After a few minutes I was totally lost, until we popped out on a fire break at the top of the downhill runs. Chris had planned this all along so that I'd have to ride some of the more techy trails and test myself.
We agreed that I'd just see Chris down at the next fire road so that I could mince down at my own pace.
I watched Chris head off down the trail and felt the nerves build up again.
Deep breath. I've done this before. I know I can do this. Another deep breath, then I set off after Chris.
I had to give myself a bit of a talking to, but I managed not to do any panic braking and made it down to the fire road in one piece.
Did I want to do the next bit?
Deep breath....yes. What the heck, let's do it.
This time I managed to keep Chris in sight, so I must have been going a bit faster. There was a bit of an incident with a tree, but I made it again and wasn't feeling nervous any more.
Then we were on to the last bit of trail back down to the car park. I'd made it and I'd faced the demon of the crash site.
It was an incredibly frustrating ride because it was clear that I'm not as fit as I was and it was more of a challenge than it should have been, but I proved to myself that I can still ride the scary stuff (okay, so I rode it slowly, but I rode it!).
It'll be a wee while before I'm back to where I was before the crash, but at least now I know I can still do it.
I just need to decide now whether to sign up for the enduro at Innerleithen next weekend.....