Oxford life. Thirtysomething challenges. Music leanings. Anything really.

Monday, March 28, 2005

The Awakening

I've been a bad cyclist and not done a lot of cycling over the Winter; partly to laziness, partly to disillusionment. This has left me a little concerned about my fitness level approaching Mountain Mayhem in June.

I've ramped up the riding in the last month and am releived and thrilled to feeling like I am awakening the beast within. Just three weeks ago I struggled on a 3 hr ride with Pete and Steve, but yesterday felt great on a 50 mile Chiltern bash. The legs aren't as strong as when I came back from New Zealand, but with each ride I can feel dormant fibres wakening from their winter hibernation and realising that they weren't developed to be slacker fibres, but were worked on for their endurance capabilities. There's a long way to go but have more confidence about Mayhem than I did a couple of weeks ago.

This has gone hand in hand with a rediscovery of riding ability. For the non-bikers amongst you, half the fun of mountain biking is tackling the trail obstacles as quickly and as smoothly as your talent allows you. Pushing the bike to the edge of your abilities, and sometimes beyond, is marvellous.

The Winter lay off also seemed to drain me of any confidence and ability. Riding with Johnny and Bob last week - two of my mates who are fit and fast - they schooled me on the singletrack. Normally, I would be able to stay on their tail, but I felt like a beginner, overshooting corners, fretting about my tyre grip, clattering over obstacles, and generally feeling like a sack of spanners instead of a riding machine.

I was in Leith Hill again on Saturday, just me and Johnny, and once again, I was wallowing round the technical stuff, when my subconscious clearly decided enough was enough. If I wanted to get better I must stick to Johnny's back wheel. And that was it. I flowed. I cornered hard. I floated over roots and rocks. And I pedalled like a loony, exploding out of corners.


Yesterday, in the Chilterns, our last challenge was Grim's Ditch (starting here, heading Westwared) singletrack near Goring. It's an ancient embankment and rivals any modern purpose built cycle track. Following Jon S, I wanted to fly. He's a nippy rider, and the emergence of my riding abilities was completed on this 1500m section of singletrack. Up and down, weaving through the trees, hopping over roots and holes, I focussed completely on Jon's back wheel. Where it went, I followed. With complete confidence and trust in my ability, I leant the bike into the corners, finding the edge of the tyres, my body at one with the bike. There were sketchy moments from both of us, but we sped through the track, and halted at the gate at the end.

Nothing needed to be said, we loooked at each other and grinned while waiting for the others to catch up.

It's Spring. And I'm back.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?