I’ve been managing to get out on the bike a bit more recently, which is fortunate, as I have Pivot 24/12 next week. We’ve had months of hot, dry weather, so naturally it stands to reason that it starts pissing it down as soon as my race comes within sniffing distance.

Fitness-wise, I’m not doing too bad – I can do 16-20 miles off road fairly comfortably. Tech-wise, I’m a bit more frail. I’ve done the Forest of Dean blue (which was fine), Dalby Blue (struggled with the berms at the end), and Follow the Dog.

Despite having ridden FtD without issue more times than you could shake a stick at, there were numerous points where I had to stop. The turns at the end of the first section. The exit to the first section. The tiny plank stream crossing on the second section. Most of section 11.

It wasn’t all bad news – I rode the Steg and the original boardwalk with no issue. Yay! I’ve also been trying to do a bit more off-piste to prepare for the race with… let’s just say ‘mixed results’.

I did the Summer Classic. As I was a bit out of shape and out of practice, I entered in the beginners’ category. I felt a bit guilty, as obviously I’ve been riding for a while and done quite a bit of red graded stuff. I needn’t have worried.

It was fucking horrendous. The course was the hardest I’ve ridden – loose, rutted, rooty and steep in places (confidence not helped by another beginner going over the handlebars on a chicken run in the first five minutes).

I was determined to finish, despite having a pretty miserable time, but we started to get lapped by the under-16s. The lads were polite and passed safely. The leading girl caught me on very narrow singletrack and barged me off track whilst screaming at me.

I picked myself up out of the heather and thought ‘fuck this!’. I was having no fun, and was being rammed by children. FML. I bailed around the halfway point, angry and miserable – not emotions I usually aim for when riding. I reported the rider, but she suffered no penalty – I’m guessing because a beginner doesn’t really matter compared to the regular elite racers. It’s amazing though, I’ve done Mayhem and Sleepless, and never encountered anything like that.

I seriously considered bailing on Pivot, but I’ve been assured that Pivot’s completely different, very relaxed and friendly. It’s going to be hard for me though, not just because it’s my first solo endurance race, but because it’ll be two nights away from my son. Apart from the emotional aspect and the gnawing feeling of guilt (which I always feel when I’m out riding instead of being with t’boy), I also have to take the breast pump, or risk blocked ducts and excessive leakage.

Motherhood is haaarrrd.

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