A few weekends ago, I took part in my first adventure race in years. Stupidly, I did zero training and I just went into it with a positive outlook and two really great teammates. And you know what? I died.
Yes, we finished the race – well, all 53km that we were able to complete before the cut off point anyway. We fell short of 7km which was the last bit of running. But nevertheless, we did it.
The day after, I could hardly walk. But according to the husband, I was the calmest and happiest I had been in a really long time. He said that my ‘tank’ was full and that I should probably consider doing stuff like this for myself more often.
Not the reaction I thought I’d get. I thought I’d get a ‘whyyy did you leave me and the kids for an entire day?!!’
Life surprises you like that sometimes.
There are indeed many lessons to be learned from being on the bike.
For one, that almost anything in life is relative. Something may seem really hard on one day, then lot easier the next – and only because you’ve tried something even harder that day.
A month ago, we were riding up to the base of Mt Fromme and it felt so steep that I panted so hard and I felt like my heart was going to stop. My legs burned so bad and no amount of zig zagging made it any easier. We then spent a lot of the day climbing the mountain just so we could ride down it. Gracie reckoned we’d done a total of about 12km uphill that morning.
Today, I ride up the usual roads I take to get to the trail and it feels like no effort at all – yet I was huffing and puffing up these roads before our trip.
I suppose the real lesson is you don’t know what you’re truly capable of until you push that much harder and suffer a little. Innit.
When you come back from a significant trip, it’s easy to talk about where you went, who you were with, what you ate, anything you might have bought.
But the truth is, I came away with a whole lot more than just memories of good food and couple selfies. The real souvenir was a mindset.
Vancouver is an amazing place. I have never seen a more socially aware or responsible society – Recycling is a big thing that everyone does and is conscious of and everyone is incredibly genuine and considerate. I have never seen people more concerned about clearing up after themselves and taking the time to give way or say thank you’s. I have never seen a place more engaged with the great outdoors. And we were only too lucky to discover it through the eyes of two great friends, Grace & Joe, who are living like the locals, biking to their hearts content and just taking in life.
Aside from spending a whole week in Whistler hammering down the bike park, we also had the good fortune of spending some time riding the North Shore with them – and met some of their friends & colleagues at Endless Biking.
Endless is a bike rental and tour company – They provide the gear and the guidance to ensure you get the most of your riding at all the different trail networks around North Vancouver. As soon as we arrived, we spent some time with Darren and Eli who gave us a clinic on cornering, and Ryan who took us through a drops session. Joe then spent most of our rides secretly progressing me by taking me to trails that he thought would challenge me to become a better rider.
And boy, did he challenge me!
Every time we headed out, I’d have this feeling of dread inside me. Oh dear, I’m not familiar with where we’re going. What if I can’t do it? What if I hold everyone back?
Joe was really good and super patient. He’d take time out to explain trail sections, re-affirm techniques I had learnt and reassure me sections were do-able. Grace would sometimes ride ahead of me to show me how very elementary it could indeed be. So I always felt completely safe and confident in my abilities – this meant I always did something new skill-wise whenever we went out and pushed myself to a new level each time. I really loved that! It just felt so gratifying to always improve. And both Grace & Joe would be super supportive as well, letting out great big woops and verbal pats on the back whenever I accomplished something. It made me feel so happy and fuzzy inside.
On one particular early morning, their lady boss friend Kelli Sherbinin came and rode Mt Fromme with us. I was all nervous since Kelli’s got really hardcore bike cred but just like Joe, she was incredibly supportive and patient in trying to get me to progress. Both Joe, Kelli & Grace – and Andrew too – literally waited ages for me to pluck up the courage to attempt what’s probably a very small rock feature to most at the start of Bobsled. And when I did… Well, I just felt I had to go do it again… and again… and again… and again… So I could get over the fear and know what I was capable of.
(you can hear Kelli whooping at me in the distance!)
Have you ever been so mentally caught up in your head that when you finally get through something, you burst into tears? That’s literally how I felt whenever I cleared something like that, whether it was a skinny bit of woodwork or a technical section. I’d quickly turn away from my friends so they didn’t see how choked up I was – They’d be cheering at me for doing it and I’d be a mix of happy and seriously overwhelmed… and scared! But I loved progressing. It was doing a lot more for me mentally than I could imagine.
One of the phrases they kept using was “Just peek and place, Janice. Trust yourself and commit. You’ve got this.”
It took a lot to do it, but whenever I did I realised how much I could accomplish if I truly set my mind to the task.
A week later, I found myself at a business workshop in Dubai doubting some of my abilities. And guess what the little voice in my head was saying?
“Come on, you’ve got this. Just peek and place, trust the rest.”
You take a whole lot away from the trail each time you ride. I think that’s why I love biking so much.
For a bit of Mummy inspiration, read: Mother Puckers on PinkBike.com
It seems like a lifetime ago that Hubba and I were in Vancouver on our first adventure together in 4 years.
In reality, we’ve only been back for about 2 weeks and I suppose this blog post is long overdue.
A month ago, we took the brave step of going on a two week holiday sans kids. The kids were with their beloved Grandparents and having a holiday of their own and almost every few days we’d get on FaceTime wherever we could to catch up. Prior to our departure, my head was in a complete mess. It had probably been a long time since I took a mental break and checked out of everything – and even right up till us getting on the flight, I was worrying about absolutely everything there was to worry about - Was everything at work sorted? Had I forgotten to pack anything for the kids? Was everyone in school informed that the grandparents were in charge? Had I assigned all home help chores clearly and fairly? Had I prepped both kids well enough so they’d mentally understand why we were not going to be around? Needless to say, I had a lot on my mind. So much so that I dare say I completely neglected Andrew – and of course, myself – over the two months prior to leaving.
And whilst Andrew was really looking forward to the trip – We were going to Whistler, after all. Mountain Biking bucket list and all that! And we were about to go see two really great friends too! – Until we landed in Tokyo for transit, I just wasn’t in the right head space and I just wasn’t that excited.
Look, I’m not going to complain and say I have a bad life and that it made me so stressed I couldn’t think straight.
The reality is I’ve got a good enough gig – The support we have from grandparents is just phenomenal and when we announced we wanted to take a couple’s holiday away, everyone was more than supportive. I wanted to cry when my Dad messaged me the day I left saying he felt I really deserved my holiday and to have a great time. In fact, I think I did cry. Sheez, I was probably crying at almost everything. What can I say… I think I just felt I needed to check out.
And check out, I did. I became a complete numbskull the moment the plane left Singapore. Hubba actually laughed at how dimwitted I was being about everything. It was almost like my mind decided I didn’t want to make a single decision, or think of anything at all.
Anyway, once we got to Canada we hopped right onto bicycles. The first morning of our trip we rode a few bits of trail, attended a bike festival, took a couple of bike clinics together and then attended the world premier of a biking movie. There was no such thing as ‘getting over jetlag’ – we just maxed ourselves out right away. And the next day, we were off to Whistler for a week’s worth of downhilling.
I rode 8 out of 14 days of the trip. And you know what?
It was fantastic.
I loved every minute of it. After the kids came, I spent all this time being afraid of the trail but I fell in love with mountain biking all over again. And most importantly, I fell in love with Andrew all over again. Everyone’s told me about how important it is to take the time to be the best you can before you can be the best mum that you can be. This trip really taught me what that meant – And I’m feeling really alive and in love with life again.
This couldn’t be just the one post as I learnt so much from this trip…. More posts to come. Watch this space :)
Fast forward many decades later and my horse is a bit of a black beauty.
This badass baby is… well, not that badass. It is made of scandium and I named it ‘Goat’ a long time ago because of its ability to make me feel like I can climb really well on it. I am glad to report that I am back on Goat and enjoying my rides. The #newyearsresolution was to ride once a fortnight. Let’s hope I can stick to this. It really is great being back out there!
Which leads me to the Salomon hydration pack which I just got from World of Sports. I’ve owned a couple of hydration packs in my lifetime but they’ve not surprisingly died on me. This was a very timely gift! I definitely need something that could carry my water but also something I could carry my equipment in.
As you can probably tell from the high quality pictures, I was riding with my Sony Nex C3 which was safely tucked in a pocket at the front of the pack so it was accessible to me at all times.
Usually, most sports bags don’t quite fit my tiny frame but these straps are just like life jacket straps. All I had to do was yank on them to give the bag a snug fit. Easy peasy.
And of course, the most important feature…. Water. The bag carries enough water for me on a 3-hour trail ride and provides easy access so I can focus on the trail. With past hydration packs, I’ve found that the bladder easily leaked into the bag but this one does not. It also has a clearly separated section to the rest of the bag so there was no chance of my other bits and bobs getting wet. Oh, and I need to try it out but I think if I put ice into the bladder, there’s probably a thermal thingamajig that keeps the water cold too!
Watch this space. Very chuffed with fab bag.
But even more chuffed that I’ve been out already this year! Not too shabby for a first month :)