Sunday, 8 April 2012

Sixteen - Mummy be un-fit ... but smiling!

I survived my first weekend away from Willow!

All that panic and worry about leaving her ... what for? By the carnage that was my front living room when we returned and the speed with which my mum was ready to go home herself, that Sunday, I know well that Willow was thoroughly entertained.

Of course, it was tough leaving Willow and I missed her, achingly. 

In fact, Nick and I spent the whole weekend imagining how we could share our sport and lifestyle with her. Already, we know she loves the outdoor life: she tantrums to be in the garden, in all weathers; she is her calmest when we are walking through woods; she is an observer and, like a little sponge, she soaks up all that being outdoors allows her to see. If only I could attach her to my bike and ride the Welsh mountains' single-track ascents and descents with her.

But, above all, for me, this weekend was a chance reflect and relax, a bit. For 15 months, my life has been a continuous whirlwind with no respite. I haven’t slept in beyond 7.00am, sometimes I haven't slept at all and I certainly have not been able to have a duvet day or a day off. This weekend gave me the opportunity to ...

Typically, I chose to overexert myself and make myself even more shattered!

Soothing the pain of leaving my baby behind, in Kent, to be thoroughly spoilt, Nick and I headed for South Wales. Although, it was hard leaving her, it was exciting to have a weekend of time with my husband and trail-riding ahead. And, to really enhance the excitement, I love the sun and the weather was the most gorgeous I have ever ever experienced in Wales: it was full-sun and stunning. In fact, we rode the Skyline trail, on Sunday, with just arm and leg-warmers on our limbs. We’re from the tropics of Kent so it takes a lot to heat us!

It was also so exciting because part of the thrill I have from riding in Wales is that the climbs are quite lengthy. Like I said, we’re from Kent ... !

But, they were much more lengthy than I remember.

My heart rate was over 190 beats per minute within a few seconds of climbing the first trail. But this wasn't because I was riding hard. I was - but harder than I have in a long time. Disappointingly, despite my attempts at training rigour, I felt like a sack of vegetables with no strength trying to ascend those hills. And, I don't remember parts of my body wobbling with every bump as much as they did! My excitement was superseded by my forgetting how hard and relentless mountain-biking is. Permanently carrying a 10kg wriggler is easy in comparison. 

And, I was breathing hard the minute I began. A lack of skill is often survived with an additional pedal push - but, I didn't have that. Once upon a time, I had power to get myself out of trouble. But, I was at my maximum and had nowhere else to go. 

I was so so so so unfit!

As for my arms ... I spend all day holding Willow. She may be walking now but her favourite place is still attached to me. That meant nothing for the strength I needed to throw my bike about. Either my shocks were not working - which is highly likely, they haven’t been serviced for years - or, I was just incredibly weak. 

I was just incredibly weak.

The last time Nick and I rode these trails, I was an elite mountain-bike racer. Nothing scared me and I rode every part, hard and fast. This was a stark contrast to my tentative riding now I am a mother. Mountain-biking is challenging and sometimes scary. This weekend reminded me that I am no longer the driven, competitive and determined athlete I was. That was quite painful to realise. A few years ago, we would have ridden all day: we just about managed 3 hours each day.

This shadow aside, the weekend with my husband, the trails, the weather, the thrill of the descents, the endorphins from the climbs, the fact that I wasn't overtaken by another rider (ok, still a bit competitive!), the being out in a beautiful world – where we saw tornadoes and birds of prey and no one else for hours - were enough to let me leave Wales with a grin.

Seeing my baby’s grin when I got home was the biggest cherry.

Next time, she's coming.

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