Where have I been and what have I been doing?
I’ve been meaning to write a little update about what I’ve been doing for a while now but I keep getting sidetracked by work and by riding my bikes. Thankfully, I’ve finally found a spare hour in which I can put finger to keyboard and get this stuff typed up whilst I still remember what I’ve been up to, although I confesses I do have to look back through the photos on my phone just to be sure I don’t miss anything!
The whole idea behind this blog back at the start (in 2007!) was to keep a virtual diary that I could look back on, somewhere I could scribble notes and digitally paste my photos, but recently I’ve been kind of overthinking it, trying to form proper articles rather than just writing those kind of posts. I’d definitely like this to remain a blog rather than become a website, so I think there’s a lot to be said for just sitting down and bashing out a post without it being a big deal. And whilst I love shooting nice photos, sometimes there’s not the time so I end up not posting anything instead.
So what have I actually been doing over the last couple of weeks?
First up, I travelled to London to meet a whole load of amazing athletes, get dressed up all fancy and launch a brand new initiative for women interested in cycling, Strongher. Strongher is one of the few things I have actually had a chance to write up, so click here to read more about what we doing, and what we are planning.
The day after we launched Strongher, mercifully hangover free, I headed down to S4P Bike Park near Guildford to meet my pals Manon Carpenter and Anna Glowinski for my idea of a girls day out – riding dirt jumps. Manon, the nutjob, had been up until 4 or 5am after the Strongher launch but was still bossing it on the big line and nailing no-handers on the final jump! I didn’t have a bike of my own to ride, so spent the day stealing runs on Manon and Anna’s bikes and had such an epic time – I love that place and I love riding with other ladies. S4P is really progressive with different sized jumps so that you can work your way up to the big ones, and the locals were all really friendly. It’s also pretty sandy there, so it looks like the jumps might be rideable all winter. Yay!
Back in Devon, I resumed training, which I’ll write a more detailed post on later, but suffice to say that each week’s plan now includes some longer rides to rebuild my endurance after all the race training, one or two gym workouts, some horrid HIIT sessions on the turbo trainer and then some cross training which could be on the BMX or mountain bike. And a bit of running. And lots of stretching.
I then took delivery of the first of two new bikes. I’m sorry, please don’t hate me.
The first is a lovely Charge Cooker 2 27plus, similar to the bike I was riding in this video but with a suspension fork. Charge Bikes’ entire Cooker range is now built around the new 27inch wheel size, all with fat tyres to add an bit of extra give. Seeing as the bike wasn’t blindingly blue enough already, what with a bright blue stem, I stuck the new Fabric ‘Cell’ saddle on there just to be sure.
The next bike is a Marin Attack Trail 9, the result of my new partnership with Wideopen Magazine. I’m now a regular feature writer for the magazine and I’ll be taking the new machine on many adventures over the coming year, as well as writing up a long term review. For Wideopen Magazine, I’m keen to primarily focus on the non-competitive side of mountain biking, which is generally where I feel most at home. Please do hit me up if you’ve news about events/people/places/trips that you think I should know of!
Bikes unloaded (but as yet unridden!) I headed back up to London for a couple of meetings and to join an ASSOSéquipe ride heading out into the Kent countryside. I’d previously recced the route with some of the Assos gang and we’d been pummelled with torrential, freezing rain for much of the ride, turning what had started out pleasantly into a bit of a misery fest. This time, I went prepared with my mega waterproof SturmPrinz jacket, but guess what? It didn’t rain! We all had a really lovely time. I ride my road bike on my own a hell of a lot, so I thoroughly enjoyed chatting to new people and whizzing through a different county. The next ASSOSéquipe ride departs from Sigma Sport on November 15th.
Back in Devon the day after, I had my first chance to ride the new Marin Attack Trail so I took her to my favourite local spot, Scadson Bike Park near Paignton. I was absolutely shattered to be honest, but nothing was gonna stop me riding that bike and needless to say as soon as I started riding I stopped thinking about being tired. It took me a couple of runs to get used to the new ride – it’s a bit bigger than my previous bike with a longer wheelbase and a fair bit more travel too, so at first, it was definitely the bike taking me for a ride rather than the other way round. Then on run three, we just clicked – it was that instant.
So what next? Well on Tuesday I’ve nearly caught up!) I took the Marin to Triscombe. The weather was absolutely appalling, but along with Tahnee Seagrave, Sam Reynolds and Yannick Grannieri I was shooting the Fox autumn/winter catalogue so we just had to get on with it and ignore the weather!
We began by shooting some of the lifestyle stuff, then Tahnee and I hopped on our bikes to go and get some riding shots and got totally and utterly soaked and covered in mud in less than a hundred metres. My feet kept flying off my pedals too, it was so bloody slippery and my shoes are absolutely ancient with no grip whatsoever – I really must give in and buy some new ones! I say that every single time I ride!