There's usually one definitive ride early on each year that marks the end of winter and reminds me of the promise of the coming months of more daylight and slightly less muddy trails (the First Big Ride of the Year), but there wasn't one this year.
Don't get me wrong, I don't mean I haven't been out for a big ride this year yet. What I mean is that because we had a pretty mild winter, we were able to keep riding and going for big rides in the hills for much of the winter. In fact, at the end of February Chris and I went for a big mountain ride in the Cairngorms which is currently covered in snow and unrideable!
Already this year I've done more riding in new places places than I did in the whole of last year. The flip side of this is that I haven't been near a race at all this year (unless you count the birthday cycle speedway back in February).
It's not that I haven't thought about racing, because I have, but the mild and relatively dry weather have meant that trails are rideable, but still pretty quiet because it's still early in the year.
I say relatively dry weather, however, Chris seems to have dragged me out on more bad weather death march rides this year than he has over the last few years combined....
Carrying bikes through the Chalamain Gap (over a kilometer of unrideable boulderfield which would have been challenging even without a bike) with a nasty storm chasing us off the hill...
Pushing bikes up to the top of Lowther Hill in zero visibility, driving rain and sleet and no sign of the next marker post (somehow, Chris actually picked up on the tune which was going through my head on that ride...that old Tammy Wynette song D.I.V.O.R.C.E...I swear I didn't sing it out loud!). In fact, the weather was so bad that day, even the lambs were wearing raincoats!
But then we've also had big, open mountain rides, so early on in the year, that there hasn't been a soul around.
The great thing about all this riding so early in the year is that I'm finally managing to get some of that lost fitness back and I'm getting back all that lost confidence too.
On Saturday, I went out for a ride with the big boys and actually rode some of the big boy stuff...they were there to coach me and encourage me, but I rode it, overcame the fear of crashing and ignored the little voice telling me to slam on the brakes and get off and walk this bit!
Then on Monday, I had a lovely day off work and decided to headed off for a ride on my own (I had the trails all to myself...bliss) and managed to ride lots of bits of trail that I've never been brave enough to ride before and I didn't even hear that little voice telling me to get off and walk. Okay, so maybe it wasn't the smartest thing to try riding big, scary things I've always been afraid of when I'm out on my own, but if you're feeling confident and riding like a goddess (even if I do say so myself...of course there was nobody there to see me and tell you otherwise), then why waste all that good feeling by not pushing the limits a little bit?
I don't know if I'll be able to ride it all when I go back to it next time, but I've ridden it, I've finally got over the nerves left over from my crash last October and I'm starting to push myself again and feel like my mojo has finally come back.
My lack of fitness is still really frustrating, but I'm enjoying going out to play on bikes again and looking for excuses to go and play, whatever the weather ...Chris would say that's because of all the death marches he's been taking me on...all good training apparently!
So no real FBROTY this year, but lots of BRs so far and a promising summer of lots more BRs pushing myself and having fun again. I don't really have many race plans until the end of the summer, so that leaves a whole summer for playing on my bike and riding in new places. What more could a girl ask for?