Saturday, 29 August 2009

Good Morning Peaslake

Alex and i doing a loop round Surrey... Perfect way to spend a Saturday morning.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Rubbish Fell-Running Chapter Established

I'm number 234.

On 15th August I went to Tywyn in mid-Wales to attempt something called "race the train", a 14 mile fell run against a steam train down a muddy valley and back again.
After a rough night camping it all seemed like a tall order, so i planned to start slowly- from the back infact- and just take in the amazing scenery. It began on a bridge over the railway with the train underneath full of screaming kids, then the whistle blew, everyone cheered and we set off.
The first half was hilly cross country through farms and fields, occasionally intercepting the train route where you could hear the train's peep and chuff echoing through the trees along with the hysterical cheer from the kids onboard. Then at 7 miles we turned around and headed up one side of the valley onto some boggy, slippy, single track and woodland. By now i realised i was going to make it round so started to speed up, and found myself wearing a stupid grin as i bounded through the mud, overtaking people. It was such GOOD FUN. Coming back into the village for the finish i was running flat out and still couldn't stop smiling, thinking what a brilliantly absurd event this was, and how we should all do it next year,- in TEAM RUBBISH RUNNING VESTS.
The day was rounded off perfectly sat drinking by the camp fire, overlooking the beach as the sun set into the sea.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Rubbish Conquer Mont Ventoux (Again!)

So Alex and I managed to haul ourselves in a very respectable way to the summit of the legendary Mont Ventoux.

Only one word can quite openly be overused to describe this mountain : AMAZING. Amazingly hard but amazingly rewarding, amazing view both from the top and on the way up thanks to all the tour graffiti on the tarmac, amazing we did it considering the man-sized faffing we did in Bedion before setting off up it, amazing we did it under two-hours etc.

I (Neil) managed it in 1:58:11, Alex made it up at least 30 seconds faster and was waiting for me with his face illuminated with the same joy and weird incomprehension that I must have been wearing on realising we had managed a sub-two hour ascent.

We had perfect conditions on the climb, leaving at a whisker after 8am from Bedoin so the heat wasn't a problem and super luckily for us there was no wind at all during the whole climb. Having read what a problem windy conditions can be we're both mighty thankful of that.

I managed to keep Alex within sight the whole climb which seemed to work psychologically for both of us. He can only lead and having me constantly visible behind him in my little yellow hat kept him pushing on, refusing to let me get within 60m whilst I had the goal of not losing his bright yellow shirt into the distance to keep me pushing the pedals.

He might tell you different but I think the hardest bit of the climb for him was the beginning. Alex was riding Chris' bike for the first time and hadn't even bothered to swap the pedals so he could wear his own shoes. For the first half hour or so he cursed and screamed and verbalised his disgust and immenet retirement as he realised Chris' bike wasn't geared much lower than his own (the reason he wasn't riding his own - his gears didn't go that low). I did the gentelmanly thing and zig-zagged up the road as slow as possbile to keep with him while he got himself together and grabbed a passing back wheel to pull himself up to me and back into the climb. Soon after he opened up a lead on me and we didn't meet again till the summit.

We both agree this was the perfect way, for us at least to climb the mountain. Climbing Ventoux, someone said, is really like climbing yourself, there's very little room to chat a companion and it was too distracting for either of us, the gap which distanced us but where we remained visible to each other served as the perfect way to ride.

Coming out of the tree line onto the final summit summit section was at first my most euphoric moment as I laughed in sheer joy at the prospect of having almost completed the ride. But my darkest times were to follow - I had made the mistake of thinking we were on the home straight and the climb was pretty much in the bag. Only 6km left seemed like a breeze but it soon became clear these would be the longest 6km of my life. The bald rocky summit must be around 11% all the way to the top and was on this last stretch that I cam closest to thinking I might just stop, I might not make it. It is up here in the brilliant white moonscape that I faced my biggest mental challenges, which was tough as I thought I had had the worst of them on the slopes in the forest behind me.

Anyway we made it! The feeling was like nothing else I've ever experienced, I've never pushed myself physically as hard in my life. We'd also been building up to this for such a long time, long before arriving in France a week earlier. During the the week the mountain had loomed at us during our rides in the local area, making its presence felt, reminding us we still had to face it. To be standing finally on top of the legendary Mont Ventoux was incredible, we were wired on endorphins, the view was spectacular - it was downhill all the way from here!

Ventoux has become a mecca for cyclists for good reason, despite being the toughest thing I've ever done on a bike it was by far and away the most rewarding and yes enjoyable. The mental battle you must have with yourself as your body begs you to stop left me feeling inches taller for having beaten my demons and stayed on the bike all the way to the top. I could feel the smuggest expression I had had ever worn in my entire life plastered on my face as we made our descent, I had done it, we had done it FOR RUBBISH!!!


Alex on the summit

Neil on the summit

Neil honestly laughing as I deliriously grind toward the summit

Alex at the summit, cool again.