Helen Findlay

My adventures in Middle Europe and The Colonies. This blog contains my own views and opinions and does not represent those of my employers, or any other organisation with which I am involved. Remember, just because it isn't Singletrackworld, doesn't mean it isn't shite !

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

First race of the year goes well - Thetford Winter Series round 4

Expectations were low, I got back from Middle Earth less than a week ago and have been seriously toiling with the jet-lag, which is unusual for me. Wide awake at 2am then up for work at 6am, not good and I have not been my usual cheery self. Dawn and I set off for the long drive to Thetford, staying with her friends Tracy and Russell who made us feel very at home and fed us lots, and arrived in Cambridge early evening.

Didn't help that I tried to fix my rear brake myself (Women - know your limits - don't try to fix your bike, stand around looking pretty until a man does it for you) which meant I had no rear brake as the piston popped out taking with it half the fluid. Didn't think it would matter on a flat course so I decided sleep and food were more important than rushing about trying to get it fixed, and I was right never even missed it.

You can read the report on the BC site but I managed to win this race again, had to work a bit harder for it this time. A girl in yellow was determined to stay at the front, so I let her pace it for the first half of the 1st lap. Then my bag of tubes/canisters/tools which had broken fell off so got dropped as it took me a minute or two to fix it. Went really hard and caught her at the start of lap 2, which hurt quite a lot as I have done nothing except steady base miles for about 6 months, still coughing bit of lung up. We had a few tussles, but I was able to get away using the sneaky trick of drafting off some male riders passing us on a fireroad (hoping thats not against the rules ?) and led to the end of the race. Not by much as it turned out, finished 2.37 ahead. Was pleased to come in over the four hour mark, was no way going to do another lap !! Last year I had to lurk at the finish line in case anybody else went out again... Turns out the girl in yellow needed the win points to take the series so that was one sullen podium, but I would be annoyed at being beaten by somebody as old and fat as me (cringing at the photos) so can't really blame them.

I love the races at Thetford they are so friendly, and the flat course and swoopy BMXy singletrack makes a change, it's a lot harder physically there is just no rest, I was almost looking forward to the short slightly climby bits.

It was a long drive back, totally wired and subsequently more sleep deprivation, so taking a days leave from work today to sort out some stuff for upcoming races and de-stress a bit on the black run at GT, I seem to be awfy busy just now, but I guess it is better than bored !

This one is for you Jacquie...

Finally got around to posting a picture of the prize Jacquie made for me when I won the Scottish Masters XC Champs. A book about her day at the races. I was very touched, and it's one of the best prizes I ever got, certainly the most thoughtful and personal.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Some cute pictures of my sister and nephews

And one day I will figure out how to use the timer and we will all be in the same picture ! This is Fiona and her two boys Alexandre and Marcel.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

It's just like Scotland really

Except for the fact that it is 7pm, and still sunny and 25 degrees.

Having a great time in New Zealand, this is a picture of lake Rotoiti at Saint Arnaud. I stayed here for one night on my recent 784km circuit of Nelson lakes and the Kaikoura ranges.

Started my tour in Wellington, caught the 8.30 ferry over. The first day was very hard, and nearly put me off the entire enterprise. I didn’t start until after midday, had 90km of hills to get to Nelson, and it was at least 35 degrees. Wasn’t used to riding with the weight of panniers, you have to drop to a low gear and slow right down for the climbs. And I miscalculated water consumption, and how far you can be from a town on New Zealand roads. A black dot on the map with a place name can just mean a dog tied to a letter box. Had to take a bit of a risk about 30km from Nelson and fill my bottles from a stream, but the damage from dehydration was starting already, so just took the risk of nasty giardia bugs. So far so good.

Had a few issues with my saddle too, some minor discomfort, had to keep moving it around and adjusting the height. It was about day 5 before I finally cracked it.

Anyway, apart from these minor problems everything went fine, I had a great time riding through some beautiful places. Got very sunburned, met some nice people and consumed some high quality coffee and cakes. New Zealanders are so friendly, every time I sat down in a café with my bike somebody would be over to ask where I was from, what I was doing. Stayed in Blenheim with Viv and Les, some friends of Mother and Winton who were just lovely and made me very welcome.

Did a circuit of 784km in 9 days with one day off, so averaging nearly 100km per day. Nelson – Saint Arnaud – Murchison – Springs Junction – Hanmer Springs – Kaikoura – Blenheim – Picton. The longest day was 139km over the Inland Road to Kaikoura from Hanmer, very hilly, the road kept dipping down from the plateau to cross over the river, then back up again. Absolutely stunning and worth the strained hamstring by the end of that day !

Met up with my friend Kim in Kaikoura who is over for her bro’s wedding and the Coast to Coast. Went out dolphin watching which was amazing. The dusky dolphins were all around the boat, surfing under the bows and jumping up out of the water. I wasn’t quite brave enough to don the wetsuit with Kim and swim with them, thinking (rightly) that I would be sick as a dog the whole trip (and I was) but again it was worth it !

My bike died on the last climb of the day. The front shifter refuses to work. Meant I had to coast down the ferry, but could have been a disaster if it had happened a day earlier.

Having a nice relaxing week this week, caught up with Jo and her two boys, Adrienne and Mike and their two boys and Stephanie and Paul. Always brilliant to see everybody and I wish I had some more time in Wellington. Was trying to talk Adrienne and Stephanie into meeting somewhere in the middle for our birthday this year. Mexico ??

Off to Te Papa just now to meet with my kiwi equivalent and do a bit of research.

Back in Scotland at the weekend !