Monday, May 11, 2009

Familiar stomping grounds

After the weather we’ve had this weekend, and late last week, there can be no disputing that wintery riding conditions are upon us here in Christchurch. This, of course, is the time I’ve finally sorted myself out some sort of training routine for the next few months. I’m really not enjoying how unfit I am and my ad hoc, go riding when I feel like approach doesn’t seem to be helping that much. What better way to kick off a diligent training routine than a ride up a big hill on a chilly, but dry, day. Kennedy’s Bush, a familiar friend, a test and the first time I’ve been up there since my crash.
To be honest, if the lovely scatter hadn’t been keen I would have been quite happy to spend the day in front of the fire. I’m glad she was, because although this climb really really hurt, it was still brilliant fun and taught me some useful lessons.

Lesson 1 - Your lungs are fragile, be nice to them, a warm up is their friend.
I discovered that getting out of a warm house into a warm car and then out of the warm car onto a bike and starting straight up a climb is not good for my delicate lungs. After climbing up the first short section of sheep/single track to the first water tank my little lungs were not just protesting. They had fully thrown all their toys out of the cot and worked themselves into a full blown screaming tantrum. I couldn’t speak and could only just stay upright, draped over my handle bars like an under-stuffed scarecrow. Once I had managed to regain some semblance of composure we continued up the gentle climb of the 4wd track and then down some singletrack. I took it easy on my lungs and they warmed up. When we got to the next steeper section of the climb my lungs were fine. It turns out that boring bit of road riding to get to Kennedy’s is necessary for my lungs and in the future I will be trying to make sure my lungs are suitably warmed up before attempting any high intensity stuff (which is just about anything that’s not perfectly flat for me at the moment).

Lesson2 – You can lose all your fitness without losing your skills
Quite a few of my recent rides have shown me this. Saturday’s wet, slidey, slightly speedy (note to self, it’s time for new brake pads) descent showed me I can still have exciting, slightly dangerous fun without damaging myself. Which leads to…………………

Lesson 3 – Sometimes mud is good
Sliding round corners is fun. Spraying mud around is fun. Skidding is fun. Flying down wet hills is fun. Unexpectedly riding into water filled ruts is fun – for the people you are riding with as they get to laugh at you! Getting really dirty is fun and it makes coming home to a warm house and a hot chocolate sooooo much better. (Sensible note: riding wet singletrack is very very bad, do not do it. Riding wet 4wd tracks and sheep tracks is good)

Lesson 4 – Mud is not good for bikes
My bike is covered in mud and poo, I’m not looking forward to cleaning it, but if I don’t it will stop being my friend and break down and possibly hurt me. It’s fickle like that.

Lesson 5 - Good friends can turn rubbish into gold (comedy gold if you’re lucky)
If I had actually managed to have to motivation to leave the house and ride up the hill on Saturday by myself I suspect I would be looking at my ride in a different light. In fact I possibly would have thrown the towel in when my lungs exploded. It was cold. It was grey. The ground was really muddy. There was poo flying. But all these things seemed fun because we were talking that particular brand of bollocks that is so good when trying to distract yourself from the pain of a climb. We could laugh together and at each other. And laughter is contagious once it starts. So I hit the side of the rut and had to put a foot down where I’ve never ever had to before - Hilarious! Especially the dance of restarting on a hill in the wet while manoeuvring out of the deadly rut.

So, with help, I’ve knocked Kennedy’s off and am looking forward to more assaults on its slippery sides, and hopefully a few stealth night missions. My legs are going to get strong again, if it kills me!

1 comment:

CrazyChris said...

I love the occasional mud-ride and have to agree 100% that company makes the difference. An hour slogging through mud can make you grumpy alone, yet with a friend, it's bloody hilarious!