Friday, 13 December 2013

Buck Up For Buxton - Trailquest Round 3.

The third round of Dark and White's Trailquest, mtb orienteering season was held at Buxton, last Sunday morning. The email that came when the event was open for entry warned us to expect a challenge of the rockiest terrain and 'a test of navigational, mtb riding and endurance skills' - of the first order...and they weren't kidding!
            Dave's mtb'd, camped and bivvied all over this place, he knows what to expect, is he bovvered?                                           Nah...he's as cool as the proverbial cucumber!

Well, after the uber screw-up of the last round, which we all but missed completely, having arrived at an embarrassing time of 11:15(ish) when the last time for set-off is 10:30am. (Not entirely our fault, it being Remembrance Sunday all roads leading in and out of Bakewell town had been closed down by approximately 10am for the veteran service and march, our problem was that we weren't expecting and weren't prepared for this, had we been running a little bit earlier no doubt we could have still arrived in time- lesson 1 learnt-don't leave at the last min!). We threw ourselves upon the mercy of the organizers, poor guys trying to pack up for an hour in the warmth with a mug of hot choccy (until we rocked up, of course), and we were allowed to go out and see what we could do with the remaining 1 1/2hrs before the close of the event! It doesn't take a genius to work out that there was not much fun to be had on this day...unless you enjoy bickering and battling an ever growing feeling that you're wasting your time even bothering! But we did bother and I'm glad that we did because it drove us to promise that whatever happens in the future, we are still new at this, we are still learning and (this is the most important one) we are in it to have fun!
                             , head-in-hands-oops- I didn't actually get his name, but this fella was good enough to let me take a quick piccie of him just before he clambered about in his car to get changed and head home (all part of the fun, trying to get outa soggy tights and into clean nicks when parked up outside some very nice, respectable looking home with as much grace, speed and discretion that the front seat of a Renault Clio permits, in other words it's a bit like a baboon in the zoo trying to scratch his bum without anyone noticing - probably not easy)!

So, this Saturday night we were in bed by 10.30pm with clothes laid out, food/snacks/bag/car all ready - if it could be prepared the night before then it had been- I'd even filled the coffee pot, all we had to do was to get out of bed, drink our coffee and eat our breakfasts with ease and unrushed delight, brill! The difference that just a little bit of organised prep made was amazing, it set us up for the day, I'm sure. We left feeling unhampered, with our minds in the right place, ie; on the event, and feeling cool and calm enough to take whatever was thrown as us, oh yeah - bring it on!
          This is one that our buddy in the photo above was kind enough to take of the two of us. We had failed miserably to get any photos for ourselves so without the help of our mate above this page would be pretty damn plain. On that note; I hereby promise to do my utmost to find out our anonymous photographical benefactor's name and I will give him credit at some point in the this space. (The biking fraternity seems to be chokkablock with lovely people and it's just nice to give credit where due).

Well, waddaya know, Buxton brought it all, every rock, boulder and ankle deep cow turd that the ride could chuck at us it most definitely chucked (and chuckled whilst doing so). Check out the link if you have the time, it certainly backs me up. We were lucky in that Dave knows this place inside and out, in fact one of his oldest and most popular blog (cycleofaddiction) shots is from this route, of his own once beloved On One Inbred (sadly, it was stolen but isstill very much missed) taken on a bikepacking trip all the way back in 2010 (btw check the link esp. if you like Liz Hatch - and who doesn't really? - loadsa hot pics for the fellas)!

Anyway, never mind all of Dave's greatness, I just wanted to show how beautiful the Buxton scenery is, even when treacherous.
In fact, this time around I'm actually feeling a tad proud of my own little contribution. Unfortunately, I am far from being at a navigational stage, but I'm learning (I've forgotten more of what I'd originally learnt years ago than what I'm remembering as I learn a 2nd time time round, but it is slowly drip-feeding into my memory bank - better than nothing I suppose, and indeed hope). No...what I'm proud of is how far I've come physically in such a short time. I'm stronger and a little bit faster -I don't feel like the proverbial ball and chain, dragging like a dead weight behind Dave and only ever holding him back! I'd even decided to not come again and let Dave compete individually, to give him a fair chance. There's nothing worse than being well aware that the only impact that you've made on your partner's riding experiences is negative, right down to the fact that he has lost fitness and strength, due to constantly slowing and waiting for yours truly. It's a horrible feeling.

In the meantime I've monopolized the new trainer and tried dead hard to improve my stamina and strength and I've really pushed myself out on the bikes, road or mtb. I've noticed the improvement myself, but Dave says he can see the change in my body language and mental attitude - and Dave can be quite the task-master, he doesn't tell me any old crap just make me feel good. I think that as far I was concerned, me personally, I plateaued after I'd struggled with confidence following a few stumbles in summer. I knew myself, and I knew that if I could just get out for a few rides without falling that  my confidence would be restored, even if it meant giving the most technical parts a miss for a couple of rides. I knew that it would be enough to kid myself that I'd got my mojo back....and I honestly have gone from strength to strength since. We are all different, with our own particular foibles and I understand that the skills and techniques are the same for us all, but if you've got that mental block that is affecting your riding quality, then do whatever works for you. Fitness and strength are at the core of most sports, but if your head's not in it, then all the fitness and strength in the world isn't gonna give you the PMA (positive mental attitude) needed to be your driving force; the spark to your fuel!

With all the will in the world, until Sunday, I really didn't know what it meant to give it my all. I thought I had done on previous rides and former rounds. But, with a little bit of strength and an improved level of fitness, I was able to dig deeper than I had ever dug before and the best of it is...I just wanna keep digging and see what other surprises I've got inside me...and girls! Wow, the girls! There were loads, sisters doing it for themselves, by themselves or in all-female teams. I was so impressed, up there toe-to-toe almost against the guys - and some of them were positively flying! 

This terrain was not the worst I come across, but it was the trickiest that I managed to tackle without getting off the bike - result! Steep, steep ascents and very rocky descents...but that little bit of confidence (and a helping hand from Dave as we raced back to checkpoint, so as not to forfeit too many points - literally, with his hand pushing the back end of my saddle as we rode the final 28minute cat4 ascent - none stop) gave me the drive from within, I was really able to push myself in a way I didn't even know I was capable of! 

Unfortunately, despite all the pomp and prep we still missed out on 20points due to a silly rookie mistake, we didn't take note of our start time, only thinking about it about 10min into the event. So, in the end we came in 10minutes late and lost 20points for our misdemeanor, another incline to the learning curve that is moutain bike orienteering.... 

Check the link to Chris Mead Photography, he covered the day, this is a link to one of Dave and I, but there are hundreds more, muddy, ruddy and damn bloody goody!

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