The very fact that it’s been 3.5 weeks of silence since my Celtman race report tells you something about the aftermath of this race!
Of course, to start with I was a bit tired, but also very happy! Then came the post-race ‘down’ feeling. Both coach and Andy had warned me about this, but I still didn’t like it. After months of having just one main focus, suddenly it was gone from my life! And it almost didn’t feel real that it was me that had gone all that way and done all that racing.
I had a couple of days off all exercise, but getting back onto the bike to ride to work the Wednesday after the race actually felt fantastic.
To beat the blues I was told to “do summat different”. To start with I entered the SMBO (Scottish Mountain Bike Orienteering) Leadhills event. This local-ish series has a low-key friendly feel, and as I’ve only made it to the first one so far this year (when I raced with wee Iain) it was good to go and support them again.
I scrambled a last minute lift from a very kind man from Fife – thanks Craig! This was my first time on the mountain bike in TWO WHOLE MONTHS! That’s what triathlon training does to you. Luckily almost everything still worked, apart from a near disaster with a lost cleat bolt at registration – again kind people came to my rescue to help me fix it (Gary, Andy and Andy’s wife :D).
I didn’t take the race too seriously, which meant I was relatively calm as I made some map blunders (soooo out of practice) and pootled around in the drizzle. It was a 3h race and about 1h from the end I sort of woke up as I whizzed up the hill at Wanlockhead to the radar station, caught some fantastic views and raced back down again! This event had a twist – certain controls had bits of grid reference and clues on and when they were all put together we had the location of the ‘golden control’. There was just time to get that before a little race back to the finish. I won a bottle of beer (for Andy) and an Alpine Bikes gift voucher.
After a week of feeling very average and quite tired, I headed up onto the Pentlands for a day of “running” (I use the term very loosely) on what was possibly the wettest day in a set of very wet days. The hills are normally popular and busy at the weekend, but I only saw two other people all day. I covered 19km in 5h whilst doing a bit of course planning for the Open 5 in November. I nearly lost a shoe in a knee deep bog, missed two of my own planned control locations (it was foggy, OK?!), got so cold I had to put a thermal top on and dripped all the way home on the bus :D. It felt like quite a crazy wild adventure given I was on my doorstep in June!
Still more pottering followed, when I also managed to lose a bike, which the police recovered 3 days later (amazing), twist my dodgy ankle on a 30 min run in the woods (now armed with many physio exercises) and swim outdoors in 3 different places (Coldingham – fantastic fun waves, Threipmuir – damp and midgy, Salford Quays – really warm, flat and rectangular). By last weekend I was feeling much perkier and did two fantastic fun technical rides on the bridleways near Andy’s house in the Peak District.
Finally, a first. Sunday was the SkyRide Manchester event. On impulse I agreed that Andy could sign me up for a ‘track taster’ session at the velodrome. The thought of being on the track has always scared me a bit, and when I was finally in the arena, next to the banking, it was even worse. Honestly, it’s much steeper than it looks on TV. And because the bikes have only one gear, no brakes and you can’t free-wheel, I had serious concerns about ever stopping. I had visions of being stuck there going round and round and round until Andy could catch me :-D.
The people already riding were making it look easy, but my first couple of tentative laps were so frightening! I pulled many faces and was a bit wibbly wobbly from nerves. We were clearly instructed that the faster we went, the safer it was and that we must also accelerate into the bends. I took this seriously and got progressively quicker and quicker – to the extent that I was too scared to go any slower! The first time I had to overtake I nearly had kittens. Then everyone else stopped for a rest and I took off on my own. I got braver and braver and was soon pedalling round as fast as I possibly could right at the top of the banking!! How awesome is that? I even started trying a bit of swooping down from high to low for extra speed.
When our time was up, my legs were burning but I was on a real high from the exhilaration of it. It was so simple and the track so predictable – all you had to think about was pedalling smoothly and going fast. Andy said I didn’t look too bad, but even so, I couldn’t imagine being out there in a jostling bunch. Not yet, anyway :-).
Now I’m feeling back to normal and ready to take on new challenges ….