Saturday, December 10, 2016

Feeling Flat

Monday - Walk 2km

Officially knackered from the weekend so Monday started out as a 100% rest day.  The office was hard work but I had an excuse to leave at 3:30 for a drive to Dalby Forest where I had booked a pod on a campsite as my accommodation before the next day's site visit.

Traffic on the M1 was snarled up for a minor crash just ahead of me.  I didn't see the crash but got caught up in the police road closure and sat at my off-engined car for 30 minutes.

The campsite was perfect - deserted - and run by a lovely farm woman and many dogs and children and a husband off somewhere doing things.  She checked me in and left me to it. Frost bristled from every structure - hoarey and white.

I went to Thornton le Dale for dinner, supplies and cash.  I over-did it on the dinner and gave myself a chronic indigestion which kept me awake feeling sick approaching midnight.  I'd purposefully kept the pod slightly cool to combat cabin fever but found myself shivering in my sleeping bag in between going to the loo across the campsite.  I gave up at 11:30 and set off down the lane for a walk to let things settle.  I burped and farted at the stars - the last I was to see of them as the weather changed the next day.  Flavours of my dinner returned to me and when I was convinced I wasn't going to be sick anymore, I turned around and headed back to my sleeping bag where I turned up the heater and wore my down coat to compliment my sleeping bag.  I threw my dry robe over my legs just to be sure.  God knows how I'll cope on a winter camp in a tent!

Tuesday - Mountain Bike Ride 18 miles, 2h:19m 533m el.

Day starts with porridge and coffee made on a picnic table encrusted in dry frost.  The birdsong is deafening and although every move has to be carefully choreographed to be efficient so I can stay warm, it all works out.  A sit mat inadvertently brought in my rucsac saves my backside and enables this moment of calm before the day ahead.  I am in bliss.

Get in from the site meeting at about 3:30pm.  Instantly get changed into bike gear whilst eating a chocolate bar then drag my mountain bike out of the car and charge off into the fallen darkness of a foggy Dalby Forest.  I have no idea where the trails are so I make several false turns onto footpaths and retrace my steps before I finally reach what I assume to be the carpark proper.  I finally find the red route after much hunting and follow the arrows into the darkness off the GPS map and between the trees.

I fought a losing battle of light.  The cateye stayed bright but never ever pointed in the right direction so the riding was either slow or haphazardly exciting!  I rode burms, pedalled over drop offs which seemed like blunt cliffs but turned into easy run-outs on the bright side of the lip.  I was TOTALLY engaged for around an hour and 20minutes until I decided it was time for dinner.  I chose a trail which took me back to the road but on the screen of the Garmin it was hard to see that it didn't actually meet the road.

As I set off down the over-grown path, I should have turned back but it was too intriguing to back out of until I heard crashing in the undergrowth and was suddenly reminded of wild boar.  After a conversation earlier in the day about Canada and Africa I had been thinking how lucky we are to live in a country where I needn't fear creatures who actually intend to do humans harm... and in the darkness I remembered wild boar.  I wrote the crashing noises off to deer and as quickly found myself at a tee junction.  Both routes seemed to take me back the way I came so I randomly picked one and ended up on the trail I'd been on 15 minutes earlier so I retraced, this time turning off for the road the "long" way, soon to pass where I'd just been at the tee junction - probably only 2metres from the road, yet invisible through the impenetrable trees and fog.

When I finally reached the road, I had to dig out my head torch.  The tiny spot light from Alpkit that was clipped to it was the only rear light I had in my possession so I put the head torch on over my helmet and started the flashy goodness.  As I stood in the darkness - all except for the cateye and the rouge bouncing off the wet leaves behind me, I listened to the drops of water falling meticulously in the forest.  Not a drop of rain, just air of 99% humidity settling dew drops onto everything in sight.  It was like winter defrosting all around me.

Once on the road I saw the first people I'd seen all evening - 3 mountain bikers. They turned left as I turned left and I didn't even have chance to say hello.  I little while later, a formation of 4 roadies with lights so good I thought they were a car at first.

We said hello!  Hey, human interaction!

Thanks to my flashy light, I didn't have to stop and pull over when two more cars came by.

I returned to camp just as chronic hunger was starting to set in.  I paid my landlady her money and enquired tentatively about the status of hot water.  After 2 days on the site I hadn't dared to run the tap for long enough to find out if the hot water was on - instead resorting to cold hand washes before stuffing my mits back into my gloves.  Cue an excruciating 2 minutes of pressing the button on the shower whilst hopping on cold tiles.  The water was indeed hot enough to enjoy the shower.  

Once I made it out of the wash rooms, the rain had started.  I sat on the deck of my pod and cooked in the darkness.  It was so warm I ditched my down coat and sat on my foam roller wearing fleece.  I leaned back against the door of the pod and listened to the rain beyond my little, lit porch.  You don't get that kind of solitude in a hotel.

Wednesday - Decamp

Only the exercise associated with breaking camp.  I drive through the drizzly North York Moors to Middlesborough then a wander around the factory.

Thursday - Rest day

After returning home from Middlesborough at 8pm Wednesday night, exhausted, I did nothing on Thursday.

Friday - Rest day

Dressed for riding to work but then couldn't be bothered with the faff of loading the bike and moving the car and finding my tool bag.  So I drove to work, dressed like I was going for a run and went to the pub instead.

Saturday - Separate ride - see report

Sunday - 7  mile walk

Well, it wasn't a snowy, blue sky day, wilderness walk but a Christmas shopping expedition which also nailed my Birthday present from TSK and - if I can't manage a run - at least saw me spending 4 hours of the day on my feet which counts for more than nothing... and now I am ready to take on next week.

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