You know when you find yourself doing something that you thought people like you just didn’t do? Well that was me at the weekend. I’m really living this life, and I have to keep pinching myself. My friend Nic and I set off on Saturday with our bikes slung in the back of her car, looking for an adventure. Yes, you heard that right.
There’s a vast network of forest cycling trails about ninety minutes north of where we live, and since our recent gentle bike rides have helped to acclimatise our respective backsides to the prolonged use of a saddle, it seemed like a great idea to take it to the next level and try something different.
Apparently, loads of folk had woken up on Saturday with the same idea because the car park was bursting at the seams with athletic-looking people on bikes. One barbie-esque girl who climbed out of a van opposite our car had it all going on in a tiny crop top and painted on leggings, although to be fair she seemed more interested in checking herself out in the wing mirror and posing for selfies than she did in her bike. Mind you, as we sat in the car watching her, we were equally pre-occupied with eating our packed lunch before we’d even unloaded the bikes, so we were hardly in a position to judge.
Despite the fact that our jaws were moving at the time, as we sat there, two reformed couch potatoes surveying all these fit families and middle-aged men in lycra, Nic made a sweeping gesture with her hand and said Dee these are our people…cue a fit of the giggles but what she was trying to say in between snorts of laughter was that we were like them, you know? We’d driven for miles to partake of stuff requiring effort, of our own free will, and we shared a moment of satisfaction about our own lycra, even though it didn’t look quite like it did on Toothpickarella across the way.
The forest had a colour coded system to mark out the various forest trails…green for easy, blue for intermediate and red for difficult. We studied the map carefully and tried to fit in by pretending we knew what we were doing. It seemed sensible to start on a green route, and then maybe have a crack at blue, so we followed the signs out of the car park and set off on what we thought was the green route.
I think we must have cycled a bit of the green route when we first set off but after we’d been climbing for around a mile on a road that seemed to get steeper by the minute we started to wonder whether we might have gone just a tiny bit wrong. I mean, I know we weren’t experienced map readers and all, but the gentle green route which followed the river at the base of the forest hasn’t seemed to suggest you had to climb a killer hill first. We weren’t actually in the forest for one thing, which might have given us a big fat clue. However, on the off chance that this was the easy route, neither of us were going to admit defeat so we carried on going. And going.
So how were we to know that the little green tree on every signpost was fuck-all to do with the green route? It wasn’t our fault that the Forestry Commission’s logo happens to be a little green tree, right? An easy mistake to make m’lud. Anyway, those nice people from mountain rescue happened to pass us after seven miles and pointed us in the right direction and then happily, finally, we made it into the forest. And it was awesome.
Awesome, and hard. It was twisty and uneven and bumpy. Really narrow paths with sharp bends where the effort of controlling a bike on top of loose sandy stones makes your shoulders scream and arms numb and your wrists tingle. Going down was hard but climbing was even harder. Trying to get enough traction to keep going whilst dropping down multiple gears and holding the bike steady was really bloody tough. I’m sure it must be easier if you’re skinny. Roll on that day.
At one point going up and round a bend, I slowed almost to a stop, realised that I couldn’t get the right gear in time then toppled sideways in slow motion onto a log, which was fine until my handlebars jabbed me in the chest and the pedal attacked my leg. Mind you, I came off a lot better than Nic, who fell off spectacularly, twice on a couple of hairpin bends…we were well into the blue route by this point having bypassed green altogether whilst we were scaling the perimeter road. Duh…
Despite all that, we were having such a great time we forgot we were exercising. It was hairy at times and really hard work but it was beyond fun and we barely stopped laughing all afternoon. We did about fifteen miles in the end, at least half of that off-road. That’s not bad going for a fat lass, eh?
To top off a brilliant weekend, yesterday, the Shitbird scale finally woke up and accepted that I mean business, awarding me 3lbs off this week. I worked bloody hard for that 3lbs, and I couldn’t be happier. This new regime is working for me and I’m more motivated than I’ve ever been.
Come on, let’s see what we can squeeze out of this week 🙂