Monday, December 03, 2007

Sweaty Feet

On Friday 22nd November, Burton in Kendal Travel Inn was the HQ for a team Pamplemouse attack on the Lake District. Their £26 a night advance rooms really are the business for us lessening hardy campers. Unlike some Travel Ins the BurtonIK one comes with a stocked breakfast bar at the motorway services.

Well fed on Saturday morning we visited Amblecity to buy TSK some new cross country running shoes to compensate for the slippery conditions of the weekend then rumbled the Vanu over to Langdale, unable to resist the pull of the place on a wet-weather forecast day when most tourists are in the area to see the switching of the Christmas lights. However, my ecological conscience got the better of me and we parked at Silverdale, just a short walk up the valley to Elterwater then over the tip of the dragon's tail to Grasmere on the other side of the fell. This fell-crossing gave us a brief feeling of peace and tranquility before we descended to the masses in Grasmere. Our efforts were rewarded by a rainbow and a sunbeam making us think, of the finger of god (or the national lottery "it's you" hand if you're less religiously inclined).

We sat down for our evening meal at Pizza Express, only to find the spag bol had been stolen from the menu and replaced by cheesy or creamy pasta. Not the perfect carbo-loading for the next day so I made-do with pizza and eating all the anchovies off the Caesar salad dressed with salad cream, no Caesar.

On race day it was pleasingly clear. Our revised strategy to focus on the bike ride was adjusted when we realised we've got really good at timing our bike ride and an urgent sprint back on the bike is much easier to achieve than one on foot. In compromise, we reduced the run time to 1.5 hours which matched with the high volume of points available on the bike section.

As we ran, we devised a strategy for maximising our points. This was almost hampered by TSK, choosing to cross a ford via the bridge, not the slippery stones. The bridge proved more slippy and with a whee-splat-ow he gained a hearty bruise on his knee and thigh, thankfully not slipping any further to what could have been broken ribs.

Ass on t'interweb
Me glad for a rest for my calves - tired from a day of walking without my new feet, we managed to resume running up the valley to the copper mines youth hostel where we scrambled beneath the stone bridge to check in for 25 points before emerging the other side to the amusement of a bystanding gentleman in full sow-wester gear who thought it hilarious weather for a run.

When we arrived at transition we felt ready to take on the world so attained the difficult 45-pointer first, opting to get the easy 30 and 40 on the way back. Our laziness was to become our demise as we flew past the 30-pointer on a roady downhill and then discovered we would've had time to go back for it. Nonetheless our policy of capturing check points via roads where it seemed more practical paid off as we made damn good time. Sadly, our errors led to us being bumped off our 10th series placing. Now we're really looking forward to next year: better luck (for the hell of it), better planning (starting the watch), better health (I missed the second event with flu) and better training (particularly since we're considering the endurance 12 and 24 hour events).

Talking of endurance, we drove to Aberdeen after the event, arriving at 9:30 to a warm house and the good company of Row and Oyv who bundled beer into our hands and showed us how to use the washing machine... and that was our Monday along with a walk in Aberdeen and a nice meal in the evening with much talk of travel in Norway and life in Scotland.

On Tuesday we rode through views of the coast, foxes playing in fields and a broken gear lever forcing me to limp home before it got dark pushing my biggest gear.

Wednesday's holiday was filled with little people as I accompanied Tracy on a day of feeding and changing little Andrea and playgroup-run, school-run and playing dinosaur puzzles with Thomas. My brain slept all day and relaxed with chatting and drinking tea before dancing with Andrea through mummy cooking dinner so that the crying would stop. She is just like me. Tracy marvelled at Tom for keeping on going all through the day after his rugby tackling game, dinosaur riding and puzzling. (TSK was out with his camera through all this - he's not silly)

On Thursday it was time for grown-ups to play. Chris, TSK and Dauntless accompanied me and the other MTBs in to Glen Lee to the South of the Cairngorm mountain. Alongside fields of green grass and rusty brown heather we grey-glistening crags, a week of rain making them glitter in our one-day-only special sunshine offering. Chris and I discussed our relative super-powers - his associated with the ocean, mine with the mountain. Each of us enjoying, to some extent, the other's territory.

The pleasurable ride up the Glen trail was nonetheless difficult with a roaring head wind to contend with but we were happy in the knowledge we were coming back the same way. In the sunshine we stopped to admire Queen Victoria's well before continuing to Balnamoon's Cave where Prince Charlie was rumoured to have once camped out for a wee while. Unable to find the path that crossed the raging river we pushed out bikes through bracken for a while before ditching them and continuing on foot. Scotland is one of the few (nay the only) places I would leave a pile of expensive MTBs in a heap in a field unlocked. Still, we left them in a dip in the landscape to 'hide them from the enemy'.

Eventually, we concluded a river crossing was not achievable but we stood in awe within the confines of a craggy waterfall, the river carving a narrow trench through the stone, gurgling away from us. We contemplated the life of a pooh stick. We found a crossing point but the consequences of not landing the jump would've been imaginably terminal. TSK and I declared ourselves chicken and denied Chris the option as a newly fledged father of two. We agreed BPC would not have too bad a time living here for a while.

We rejoined the bikes hiding from the enemy. I curled away from the enemy - wind - behind Chris - the only man I know that makes a better wind block than TSK whilst we devoured sandwiches, dried fruit mix, jelly beans and some of Scotland's finest scotch before deciding bonnie Price would wait till summer.

(some of my favourite men)

With the wind flinging us, exuberant, back to the Vanu, at least 2 hours before sun-down we headed off again on the trail alongside Loch Lee - a busman's holiday for me as ever in Scotland.

After admiring yet another waterfall and collecting some Water for Chris to drink with his whiskey we were again flung back to the vanu to watch the sun setting orange over that red bracken and highland coo basking in what will always be their colour.

The only altercation to our vacation was a sudden change in the vanu's oil level from moderately OK to low low low. Tragically low. I replaced the filter next day (with the right one this time - oh how girlie) and all seems to be well.

Our last meal in Scotland had to be fish supper (fish 'n' chips to the rest of the world), or Haggis supper if you're Trep and sausage supper if you're 3. Oh yes, did I get a photo.

Saturday was a day for enjoying the rest of our holiday together, fixing the broken bike with a rather expensive upgrade and feeling sorry for ourselves getting another cold, again. That put me on a field on Sunday watching, for once, TSK get covered in mud and bruised. I'm saving myself for the National Championships in January (honest) for which my training starts tomorrow (honest).

Oh OK. Just for the cuteness factor.


Silver Lining said...

Oh bless!!

Chris looks well - I guess they won't be at the party week after next? (nor will I, but DBO will be).

Slightly concerned that TSK appears to have borrowed Her Majesty's headscarf. Is this allowed?

Just a Girl said...

The bruise is horrifying.

The kid picture is awesomely hilarious!