Returning to the road after Eastbourne, I had a race coming up which I was keen to get working towards. Despite not enjoying or riding my best in the trees, I headed for trails that I knew I needed to practice around Aviemore.
I looped fire roads in between trails, practicing skills I had been working on for a while. I analysed every attempt to see what I was doing wrong or right and would continue like this for hours. If I did a good manual, for example, I let myself head down a trail, to loop back round and start again. I continued with looping natural forest trails and fire roads relentlessly, enjoying the Mountain Café & The Potting Shed’s cakes in between.
I knew my real motivation was beyond the race. I longed to get back to doing big days. I headed for the Borders the week before the race to practice on various trails. The weather was really hot & I started to feel really tired. I had hardly given myself any rest days. Keen to just see out the race, I kept pushing myself, sitting at the top of natural trails in Inners in the sun getting sunburnt. I knew I had pushed myself too far. Feeling frustrated, I decided to listen to my gut, take a step back and headed to where I wanted to ride.
When I got back to the Lakes, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to continue at the intensity at which I was riding, so I took some days off and enjoyed being a tourist. I discovered ‘Pints of Tea’ in a favourite little cafe, sampled amazing cakes in lots of others and enjoyed seeing the legendary Hillman Imp at the motor museum. Some days were simply spent reading in the shade and planning what trails to tackle next. There were plenty of returns to Garburn; one in particular where I was stoked to finally clear that climb!
I slowly started to work my way North to head home, stretching every last piece of adventure into the last days of my trip. I had mixed emotions. I absolutely love riding my bike, heading on amazing adventures and pushing myself, but I noticed this summer that I wasn’t sure how racing fitted into this. Looking back even at last year’s experience racing, I noticed it never bothered me where I placed in a race, I was just so excited to be riding my bike and learning so much in the process.
Last year when I had no mountain bike I watched a lot of big wave surfing trying to gain an insight or understanding of how to work on some of my fears when riding. I found I could relate a lot with Soul Surfers. I often find myself wondering if I am more of a soul rider. I can’t remember what I used to do before I started mountain biking & heading on adventures.
I have had the longing to mountain bike since I was a young kid, but I always found excuses not too. I never had enough money, time or guts, until one day I realised that the longing that I thought would go away, or I would grow out of, was still there – stronger than ever. I had no idea what I had been waiting for and I just jumped in.
Before I had even returned home from this adventure, I was planning my next. There is one fairly epic adventure for next year that is getting more ridiculous by the day. I’m also looking forward to seeing you, Nan!
I feel incredibly lucky to have lived out so many of my dreams and this summer was no different. A huge thank you to everyone who has helped me continue to carve out a life I have always dreamed of and who has joined me on the journey. A special thank you to Flare too. You guys really do make the best kit and I cannot thank you enough for making it so colourful!