Thursday, 24 May 2012

Nineteen - Mummy be not too unfit after all!

I did it!

My first mountain-bike race since pre-Willow times.

And, wow, did I love it! More than I remember loving it. This sport is fantastic! I'm back and I'm loving it!

There is a local mountain-bike series held in the deep east of Kent. Where the land is flat, the terrain is bleak and the wind and the weather are more than unforgiving. Many a day have I spent fighting the relentless gales and the pelting rain on the Fowlmead track. But equally, I have spent many an evening riding twisty and tight singletrack; kicking up dust; and, in humidity and heat.

I'm trying to describe Fowlmead. A country park found near Sandwich, Kent. A country park that only knows extremes. And, its latest extreme, applies to my elatedness!

Last Thursday, I raced round 2 of the Fowlmead Summer Sizzler. I hadn't raced one of these since 2009 and I was incredibly anxious about how well I would cope with riding my bike at threshold and above for more than an hour. Forget the racing!

In true Gemma-now-a-mum style, Nick was building my bike the night before. How things have changed from the precision I used to apply to bike maintenance! I was out riding it that Wednesday evening at about 10pm just to check the gears didn't slip; and they did. But, so what! I was going to race - no matter!

And I did! And, I am so glad I did.

I felt like a bit of a novice: I didn't know where to sign in; I had to ask which direction around the track the race would be going; I had to beg help with my slipping gears; I forgot to wear my timing chip ... In fact, I had forgotten mountain-bike racing in its entirety. I even went to the back of the line forming at the start because I felt so new to the sport.

But this newness is similar to how I felt when I discovered mountain-biking.

With the blast of the gun, everything I ever knew did return and I felt like I was me 3 years ago. Only slower. But, strangely, not that much slower. In fact, I was surprised to be as strong as I was - but, every mother knows that it ain't easy spending 50% of your day with a 12kg weight attachment. However, I was first lady and very surprised to be ahead of my very own first mountain-bike mentor, Debbie Burton. (No doubt she'll make me pay for this at some point.) And, I was 18th, I think, out of the whole field. I used be a top 10 finisher ... But I mustn't dwell on what I used to be.

I am, now, a proud mountain-bike racing mummy. And, my smile, from Thursday's race, was stuck for the rest of the night and some of Friday ... (yes, some of Friday - working with Willow's sickness bug depleted my enthusiasm for anything except curling up on the floor.)

Anyway, one week on - I STILL LOVE THIS SPORT!

Thank you, Dave Hayward, you made me look like a racer in your photo! xxx