Soulful September

10629774 10152305443141003 1426992037884526623 nI have had a very memorable September.

The month started out with a cold, running nose, breathing that was laboured and that sinus pain behind the eyes.
My riding continued and I managed to win the Beechworth Six Hours in The Saddle on the 30th August, against someone who would become my competition yet again later in the month.

On return of the 6hr in Beechworth, I was defintely tired and sore, a fun technical course though tough on the body for 6hrs. Perhaps my cold had something to do with it, but I did not really recover well from that race.
Four days later I was on a plane to Alice Springs to a 30 degree day, sunshine and a chance to dry up my sinuses.
10593213 10152306061906003 430214463270642342 nI was here in Alice Springs to teach again, running MTBSkills clinics on the Friday, Saturday, Sunday and the Tuesday.
Friday 5th September was a day with beginners, Saturday increasing to Intermediate and Sunday more of the advanced riders. On the Tuesday we did a jumps course on a small bmx track near the Kurrajong trails.
I got to spend a bit of time with everyone and also get some guiding from the lovely Raby! What a great guy, just so into his riding and trails and sharing the love of it all.

Its always such an amazing place to visit, and the trails are certainly on the improve as is my navigating through them. I managed towards to end to create some awesome mini epics, do social night rides and still get work done at night.

Thanks to Jess Harries for organising this again. Also great to see Claire back on the bike again with smiles and style. Small steps girl! 

10659240 10152309618051003 3389915891733674627 nAfter my week in Alice Springs I was then making my way over to Perth to run some skills sessions with Mark and Jen Wardle at Rock and Roll Mountain biking.

I did the same last year and it was such a great experience.
I had a little more time in Perth and was able to get some extra exploring done as well as teaching.

Kalamunda has a great network of trails to get to the official trails and I attempted to use them even though I was not quite sure how long it would take. But thats what I like about turning up to a new place, just nosing my way around, seeing where I end up and then downloading the data later and visualing where I was and how the land lays and where certain landmarks are etc...Its all part of the fun and learning.

The trails at Kalamunda are pretty damn good with a healthy dose of “fun and technical trail features”, and I do enjoy the pea gravel as well as the smattering of baby head rocks everywhere.

10645219 10152313955961003 2918657704341258801 nWhat always strikes me most when I visit new places is the excitement of the people I meet. Sure I am there for a reason, to teach and impart my knowledge, to give my time and inspire. Thats a given, but I do find this platform of “arrival” certainly allows me to get to know a heck of a few people and really get to know them – I really do love it. Yep, its exhausting and in the end I just need 10hrs sleep and solo time, but its worth every second of sacrifice.

Jen and Mark devised a weekend of sessions for “endurance” based skills courses, how to ride smoother faster with less effort with great technique. My speciality.

And so I met a new bunch of friends over the course of two days, and not only the participants, but also the instructors, Steph, Tam, Peta & Shannon, whom I spent at least one course with. Great girls who have a lot of passion for teaching and learning too. Four girls I would gladly call my friends and offer up a room in my home. Life is good like open yourself up to new experiences and you get amazing love coming right back.

I will be honest, there are days where I would just like to solo it and not give a percent of myself out to anyone, but I know that won't get me anywhere and probably leave me feeling even more sorry for myself. So instead I actively seek out to engage with people and really find out about them and what makes them tick. Its the exact opposite of what I want to do and my goodness it works. The moment you absorb yourself in the giving to others, the day improves ten fold and life is easy. 

So I guess thats one of the reasons I love to say yes to these teaching adventures interstate, yes they are exhausting and yes they take me away from my business, and yes they stop me from keeping up any serioius training or eating regime but I have come to enjoy “winging it” and seeing who I meet and where it takes me. I never expect anything so I am always winning.

4 days of great trails, awesome company, wonderful people to teach and of course some good sleep it was time to come home.
After nearly 2 weeks of weather above 20 degrees and sunshine everyday, I wondered what I would come back to! 

1383886 10152327627211003 6136203688249439561 nYep, got back home to cold weather, some rain, more rain, wind and cold.
Not to mention 2 weeks until the Scott 24hr which I would be doing solo none the less.
Bang straight back into work, answering emails, finishing off tasks, and preparing to head off to the Double
Cross Gran Fondo at Gembrook on the Sunday 21st September.

By the end the week the sun was shining and the weather was more Spring like.

This was the first time I had ridden my Liv Brava CX bike with a little bit of purpose. A 75km “race” on lots of dirt roads, some fire trails and even a touch of bitumen. There were a lot of hills, a lot. This is where you notice the gearing for a CX off the shelf is not built for these long climbs and lets just say it was great Strength Endurance training for next weeks 24hr effort.

The start was a nice hour of 10am. As I said, no prior “solid pace” riding on my new Miss Bee, just some social pedaling. Still getting used to her, it felt kinda weird riding in a bunch, on a road, that would soon become dirt and to be secure, descend and change gears quickly on the other side of a descent ready for a climb. Totally different!

Descending in the drops a must, bum slightly off seat as must, using elbows and knees to absorb bumps as there is barely any bag in the tyre to do this, no suspension. The dirt roads have pot holes and puddles and loads of water ruts. I feel like a Paris Roubaix champion minus the speed.

I found I was looking even further ahead, ensuring my momentum was good for what was coming up, avoiding big ruts, fallen branches and pot holes and also avoiding the need to brake too hard and result in the dreaded pinch flat!

Some of the climbs were long, kilometers long and at a gradient that would still hurt on a road bike, however on hard bitumen and 100psi, the rolling would be far smoother and less effort.
I got to say, it was fun, I had some moments, but I loved it, and the vibe was ULTRA friendly.
I found myself riding with Philippa Read, awesome chick and we hung out all day. She was stronger on the climbs and me on the descents. We chose to cross the line together as it was a team effort all day long.

Thanks to Big Hill Events for a very fun day out on my CX bike in a place I have never even ridden before let alone even driven my car.
Both Philippa and I came equal 3rd in the female CX category.

After the race, we sat around in the sun talking, catching up with new and old friends. I cant remember the last time I allowed myself to do this, with no stress or rushing.

I would have to say it was partly organiser vibe, and the fact that I was not in a rush, I had a bike to handover to Jan. I had sold my TCR advanced to Jan that week on Facebook and she was meeting us there to pick it up to make way for my new Envie arriving on Monday.

Jan is a great female role model and someone who is a few steps ahead of me in the Vegan lifestyle change. So was good to meet her proper and hand over my bike for her to enjoy.

Once home, we were met at the door by the energetic Max and then Soxy our aging sick dog.
I love getting home to my boys, since our daughter Saskia left home there is never a quiet moment with the boys following our every move.

10622701 10152334881586003 2499033831266623871 nI had been feeling a lot of stress related to Soxy boy though, every week I was visiting the vet trying out a new drug and seeing it have zero effect on his well being. Not even the Tramadol was calming him enough to be out of pain. I was starting to wonder was it me desperately trying to give him quality and not wanting to let him go, was this the right thing to do? As the days progressed through the week, it was getting to both Norm and I, we both did not want to make any decision.

Like any normal week, it was busy, we had work to do, planning for Chase The Dog event for the 11th October, admin work, shop work, web work, emails, planning, everything really.
Oh and try and get some training in for the 24hr as well as pack and plan for it.

Seems no matter what we do, our 24hr lead ups are always full on.
This week was no different.

2 full bike overhauls, inners and outers, new chains, new rear cassette, new tyres, new seat post, nutrition (going vegan was going to require some pre planning until I got the gist of it), some sleep, deciding whether to camp or motel it, what day to leave and to organise my brother to look after Max and Soxy.

It was not until last Wednesday that I realised how bad Soxy had gotten, and I did not want my brother to have to give him respite care for 4 days, and maybe have him die without us being there. I could not handle that. Norm and I had the conversation.

We called the vet and had the same conversation. It was true, it was time for Soxy to go.
Oh yeah...all this above, with work, and now we had to say good bye to Soxy.

On Thursday we rang Saskia, planned for a 4:30pm vet appointment, and all spent the day with Soxy. Cuddled him, held him, kissed him and then drove him to the beach which he loves.
Norm took video footage which I am so glad for.

We then took Max to my brothers and said good bye to him.
The now 1hr long drive to Colac was filled with tears and lots of silence.

Now it was a a countdown that was inevitable, we knew we were now saying out last goodbyes.

The vet was so good, she really gave us the time we needed to not turn it into a process but a proper goodbye. Here we are Thursday night, feeling our hearts ripped to pieces, unsure of what to do ever again, like life no longer matters, like who cares about a 24hr race on the weekend.
We had just lost our best mate Soxy Boy Douglas.

Thank you boy for all the love you gave us, and for that final day you spent with us.

With his passing, we all took a huge breath, we had to get on with life.
Norm and I were leaving at 5am the next day to drive to Canberra.

And so life goes on...
The bikes were packed, gear packed, tears, more packing and more tears.
And then sleep.
I just hit the pillow exhausted and tearful, with one more bellowing sob I allowed myself to fall asleep and slept the best I had in a long time.
Thank you Soxy, thank you...

10580000 10152336547811003 1683777961001367033 nThe drive to Canberra was nice for Norm and I. Forced time together, him driving for a bit, me doing some emails, then swapping so he can do work for a few hours, and finally arriving at Stromlo for our ride of the course.
We set up marquees and met with the MTB Bootcamp crew and David Macdonald too.
A fun social practice lap was had and lots of talking about the lines and time saving with the girls too. 

With the day not over yet, we got a text from Eliza Eldridge – Bassett to catch up, so we organised a dinner date with her at Au Lac Vegan Vietnamese restaurant in Dickson. YUMMO.

Always good to have a banter with Eliza. 

Finally we arrived back at our 2.5 star motel room (planned of course, drive to door kind of accom with no frills as we only needed one night!) and did a bit of sorting and then hit the hay.
The next day I tried to sleep in as long as I could, so stayed in bed until 8am.

When I woke, I said to Norm, well...I best start thinking about racing this 24hr thing...I have not really engaged myself in thinking about it as yet. And I think that was the last I said about it.