I’ve been a bit slack on the blogging front lately, although that’s also down to the fact I’ve been a bit slack on the biking front too. I’ve been biking into work on a daily basis, often even when it’s pissing it down, but I’ve found it hard to get out at the weekends. Partly down to feeling a bit off, and partly down to family commitments. This time of year is always a bit miserable for me as it’s the time of year when my dad died, and the weather – not helping.
I really want to get across the country – I want to hit Coed-Y-Brenin, Llandegla, Nant-yr-Arian, the Peak District, the Forest of Dean… but it’s a bit hard to muster the enthusiasm for a six hour round trip when it’s cold and wet. We were hoping for some long weekends, but Mr Toast is finding it hard to even get the odd Friday off with his current workload. We’ve not even managed our usual Easter trip Ooop North to Dalby. 🙁
My knee has been playing up a bit again, so I’m off to see the doctor about whether a knee brace would be beneficial. I quite like the look of the pricey but awesome Asterisk Knee Braces – supposedly good for people with ligament issues, looks very adjustable and doubles up as armour. I’m just a bit reluctant to make the investment without knowing whether it’s definitely suitable for my knee injury, and what if they’re too heavy or uncomfortable for me?
I can tell that Mountain Mayhem is coming ever closer, as on Saturday night I had my first MM Anxiety Dream of the year. I dreamt that I was riding, soaking wet under torrential rain, struggling in the mud and hating every second of it. So, not so much a dream, more of a reminiscence. I’m hoping my mother’s theory of weather proves true – “We’ve got to have a good summer! We’re owed some good weather!”
On the plus side, what little off-road riding I’ve done lately has been moderately successful. For a start…
Yes, it’s been well over a year since I’d ridden the Monkey, but I finally plucked up the courage to give it a go last month. Despite my unfamiliarity with The Monkey (I’d only ridden it something like five times previously), it went better than expected. My fitness was better than it has been in the past, and I wasn’t lying on the floor screaming with painful leg cramps, so that was a definite improvement. My knees were objecting quite violently to the steeper climbs, and I had to stop to let the pain lessen a few times, and also probably took far more ibuprofen than is recommended.
I gave a few of the trail features a miss – I decided not to test my 50% success score on the pre-Klondike rocks, and also gave Woodbank a miss. I was going to do it – I went to have a look, thought, “Oh, it looks easier than the start of section two”, and let a group pass. The last fella in the group then prompty completely ballsed up, clipping his right handlebar grip on the tree and twisting his front wheel, sending him crashing in spectacular fashion.
Yeah, I’ll give that one a miss for today.
I also pretty much walked most of the Monkey-section of the Monkey. This is probably going to sound a bit harsh, but it’s probably my least-liked bit of trail I’ve ever ridden in any trail centre. It leaves me miserable and demoralised, with its stupid narrow trees and rock gardens, and I struggle to think of any part of it I actually like. OK, I did have a brief moment of confidence boosting when I looked at the second rock garden, the only one I’ve ever ridden, and marvelled that I’d ridden that. Admittedly it was before there was a huge gouge ripped down the right hand side, but still.
Being a bit of a pessimist though, that thought was soon crushed by the knowledge that there was no way I’d ride that again. The day that I rode that I’d been having a particularly good day, taking lots of risks that paid off… until I came off on the fireroad, stripped off a good bit of skin, broke my helmet and ended up on a heavy course of antibiotics. I still bear the scars. Pfft. Be an overly cautious coward and live to ride another day, that’s what I say!
Went out on Saturday for the first time in weeks and rode the Dog. Despite the good conditions, I ended up going a bit slower than usual, clocking in at one hour ten minutes – although I think a good five minutes of that was trying to wrestle my thermal jacket into my Camelbak.
Hoping to get out with increased frequency before Mountain Mayhem. I need to improve my fitness, try and get my knees more used to climbing, and, my personal favourite, also have to get Benny used to camping… or its going to be a very, very tiring weekend.