Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Bontrager Twentyfour12

So I popped down to Newnham Park near Plymouth this weekend for the third Bontrager Twentyfour 12. I've had a good run of success with this event; 1st place 24 hour solo woman in 2006; 1st place mixed team in 2007. For 2008 I would be going solo again but only 12 hours this time. ("Only" 12 hours...)

I quite like Newnham Park and raced there for the first time last year at the NPS. I'd never been before but had heard a lot about it as the World Cups were held there in the 90's. The course was absolutely blinding and the weather was excellent. All in all it was a really good weekend and seeing as I finished racing at midnight it gave me chance to catch up with a few people over a mandatory glass of vino (or two).

My full race report is on the Races page here. (You see, I've purposefully not told you where I finished so you have to go and look!)

Sunday, 20 July 2008


I like DIY because there's always a real sense of satisfaction, a sense of pride in your work, a feeling of instant gratification and noticeable results; the feeling that all the hard work you've just put in has all been worthwhile and time well spent.

Today was a DIY day and in honour of Joolze Dymond's birthday, I have named my pantry after her. Dymond's Pantry: Before and After. (After hours of filling, sanding and painting.)
Dymond's pantry before
Dymond's pantry after

You see! A job well done and a day well spent!

Saturday, 19 July 2008


I'm a great believer in the natural balance of life. Similar to a commercial that was on TV a few years back, I believe that for everything good that happens, something equally bad will happen; for every high in life, there will be a low of equal proportion.

My life is full of fantastic experiences and exquisite moments of fun and happiness, there's never a dull moment. But it did take me a while to figure out that every time I was having loads of fun, at some point this would come crashing down and plummet to some very low places; 'heading for a fall' is a phrase I often hear. Still, you can't have the highs without the lows, so I wouldn't change it for all the world.

Anyway, I've digressed slightly and this philosophy stuff can all get a bit heavy. But the theory is also carried over to intelligence - for every moment of genius, there follows one of equal stupidity: my boiler broke down during the week and I didn't have any hot water. I called some plumbers and heating engineers and after 2 days none of them had returned my call. So I looked up the problem on the internet and within 15 minutes I'd saved myself a call-out charge and fixed the boiler. I also bled the radiators and balanced the system. Oooh, look at me! I was very pleased with my new found plumbing skills and carried a rather smug grin for the rest of the week.

Fast forward a couple of days to the morning of Saturday the 19th of July (i.e. today) and I jump in my car early this morning to drive to work. Turning out of my road I can't quite remember whether I normally take the main route or the windy back route to the A41 when I drive to work. As I drive down the road and join the A41 dual carriageway, the reason why I can't remember which route I normally take suddenly dawns on me: I don't actually take the A41 to work. I take the M1, which is on the other side of Hemel Hempstead. I was going the wrong way!

All local road knowledge abandoned me and it took a good twenty minutes to find the M1 and get on my way to work. I smiled to myself with the calm realisation of what had happened; my moment of boiler genius had been equalled by getting lost half a mile from my house and going the wrong way to work.

Balance has been restored.

Friday, 11 July 2008

Fair Weather Cyclist?

The elements were against me today. The non-Summer was determined to get the better of me.

After quite a long lie in (I'd forgotten just how tiring being back at work and doing double shifts actually was) I had brunch whilst watching yesterday's Tour de France highlights. It spurred me on to ride my bike - a pleasant spin on the Surly Cross-Check around the usual loop was in order. Or so I thought.

I put my cycling shorts and jersey on, filled a water bottle, got my bike out of the shed, pumped up the tyres and went back upstairs to get my helmet and shoes. No sooner had I shut the front door than it started to pour with rain, and I mean really hammer down; sheets of sideways rain drops were blown viciously across the green in front of my house. I bought my bike inside and went back upstairs to wait it out, it would only be a shower after all.

Five minutes later and the rain was battering against the window. I took my helmet and shoes off and sat down. I wasn't going to be beaten and I'd put the time to good use by popping to the Post Office, wearing head to toe waterproofs!

It had stopped raining as I walked back from the Post Office, the 'Summer shower' was over. it was time to go for a ride.

Back upstairs and put on 3/4 length tights and a long sleeve top, grabbed a light weight showerproof coat, turned on my GPS, put my headphones in and fastened my helmet. I turned my back to the window to walk down the stairs and heard the familiar sound of rain hammering on the window. It was 3.30pm and I thought I would wait until 4pm. If it stopped any time before then I would go for a ride, if it was still raining at 4pm I would give up and do something productive.

4pm - the trees were bending sideways, the raindrops were bouncing six inches back up off the ground and the thunder rumbled down the valley. I put the kettle on and gave in, my motivation had gone. I tidied the huge pile of junk in the dining room instead (so THAT'S where pedals went!)

By 5.30pm I was proud of my new tidy dining room and it hadn't rained for half an hour or so - aha! I shall squeeze in a sneaky hour! Maybe the clouds heard me but I didn't even finish planning the proposed route in my head before it started bucketing down again. When the Gods are so blatantly against you like this it's best just to cut your losses and save your energy and enthusiasm for another, drier, day. If ever we get one of those...

Monday, 7 July 2008

The Love of Cycling

So it's been a while since I last posted. Partly because I've been busy, but mostly because I've been avoiding everything to do with the internet, emails, computers and cycling. There's a reason for that - Mountain Mayhem.

I've been working for Patrick Adams for 9 years at Mountain Mayhem and it has always been a fantastic week, the highlight of my year and something I always look forward to. This year was different. I wasn't looking forward to it. I'm not even sure why. There were various reasons but nothing in particular, just the amalgamation of lots of issues.

As many of you may know disaster struck on Friday before Mountain Mayhem when Patrick was taken to hospital leaving his beloved event, the biggest 24 hour mountain bike race in the world, in our hands. This made an already bad week, worse. But we got through it. (I'm not going to dwell on all the ins and outs of this week, it just wasn't as fun as usual.) There was the usual torrential rain on Saturday evening which turned the course to unrideable sludge and then gail force winds on Sunday morning tearing the arena and the campsite to pieces! But we got through it.

Two days tidying up and litter picking and by Wednesday I had totally lost my enthusiasm. Niggly things were getting to me and there was too much residual bad feeling hanging around. There's just too much politics involved in cycling some times. I've been saying this all year and Mayhem is no different. I'd had enough.

Then when I finally got home I made the fatal mistake of reading the forums about Mayhem. I always tell Paul Davis the course designer not to do this and I have no idea why I did, maybe because I had more input this year and just wanted to know what people were saying. Still, it wasn't a good idea and I got even more fed up! This was when I stopped looking at the internet. It was either that or go off on a big rant. But the damage was done. I didn't want anything to do with cycling.

Now I'm sure my indifference to cycling would have continued to fester if it wasn't for the fact that I'm a slack cyclist and when I unpacked the car I put Olive the dekerf in the dining room. There she sat all shiny and beautiful: incredibly neat welds, the trademark dekerf seatstays, stunningly designed XTR components, precision engineered beauty of Hope Mini calipers and the neat, slimline stiffness of the Rock Shox Team SID suspension forks. How could I stay mad at her?! It wasn't her fault after all.

I resisted for a couple more days - grumbling and moaning and being generally fed up with the world, and cycling and cyclists. Then I cracked. A cosmic alignment of circumstances occurred with Cyclenaut coming over for a few days from America, Deano popping over for a couple of beers, the funniest waitress in the whole world warning me about the 'blue cheese burger' and a beautiful day; I just had to ride my bike.

And it was ace!

I love cycling!