Dirt Biking with a Pillion?

This kid has no choice, it’ll ride!

It’s officially spring in New Zealand, which means daylight savings and more riding. We can look forward to a long summer of trails and good times.

Well, all of us who didn’t get pregnant in the last 4 months can…

Yep. I have a pillion on board for the next 5 1/2 months which is going to make life very interesting! Lucky for me I have the most laid back and practical Doctor I have ever experienced. I quote “Pregnancy is a not a disease, you do not have a debilitating condition. You do have to be more careful and aware of a lot of things, but life does not need to end because you are pregnant.”

I love him.

No, seriously, the man said I can snowboard and ride for as long as I personally feel safe and comfortable doing so, just no racing or jumping. Which basically means I need to get in as much riding as possible now before the “bump” gets so big it throws my balance off or I can’t reach the handlebars. Which is highly likely. And highly frightening.

The husband and I have discussed it and we’re going to take each ride as it comes, stick to events we’ve done before. I’m particularly keen to stick to either events run by our local club or ones where my Mum comes too. I don’t want to spoil anyone else’s ride by selfishly refusing to hang my helmet up yet, but I’m also conscious of the fact that hauling my 90+kg bike out of a rut is perhaps not the smartest thing to do just now. My Mum and the club boys have already said they’ll keep an eye on me so that frees up the Husband to keep riding at his own pace as usual and we can all have fun.

Equally good timing is my Mum is a few weeks away from getting a new bike (KTM Freeride – jealous much!) so she’ll be slowing down a little too while she familiarises herself with that.

So far so good. I had to miss the race I have been working towards since I started this whole bike thing, but it’s annual and shows no sign of stopping anytime soon, so there’s always next year. The kid is due 5 months before the race so there’s an incentive to get back in shape!

The hardest thing will be making myself slow down. I’ve been getting progressively faster and I love it. Have to remember I’m riding for two now 🙂

PS. I will do my best to continue to keep this a biking blog, but realistically there’s going to be several months with no riding and lots of baby. Please bare with me!

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Just Like Riding A… Well… Bike!

Finally, after months of rain on every riding Sunday, we got out to the forest.

It rained heavily on Saturday and I was developing a serious case of can’t be bothered, compounded by my parents going out for dinner that night, which meant we wouldn’t get our pre ride catch up and would have to get up early on Sunday to travel to their house and load the bikes.

The only saving grace is that we had to get up so early that it was still dark and we couldn’t tell what the weather was doing!

Just as well, cause it was misty and rainy as we headed West. Even the Husband was having second thoughts, despite claiming all week that he was going even if there was a hurricane! I don’t mind being cold, I don’t mind being wet. I do however loathe being cold and wet at the same time!

Ah what a load of whinging!

By the time the Husband loaded up (I was inside warming my hands on a cup of tea and making bacon sandwiches for breakfast) the sky was beginning to clear and things were looking up.

We got to the ride, signed on as some light drizzle was falling and headed out on the trail.

By the end of our first lap I was smiling so broadly I copped a mouthful of sand from a passing 2 stroke! I remembered how much fun I have and how much I love this sport! I felt alive, strong and focused, watching out for stumps, selecting the right (or wrong!) gear and trying to get my weight right around the corners.

It’s funny how much has become instinct now and how much I still have to think about. I understand the sounds my bike makes and know when I should be changing gear based on what’s coming up ahead. I don’t always get it right, but at least now I know straight away what I’ve done wrong and can sometimes rapidly change down before I stall halfway up a hill.

One thing I can’t seem to get my head around is how to distribute my weight around corners. Conversely I have become a master at counter balancing as the front wheel washes out and I have to haul the bike upright before I torpedo over th bars! However I forget where my weight was by the next corner and it usually happens again.

Ah well, still room for improvement!

The same could be said for my Army inspired cupcakes. Shows promise, room for improvement!

It’s a drinking canteen, in case you can’t tell.

 

Surely you can tell this is a tank (even if it won’t rotate properly, it’s fine on my PC darn it!)

Keep it simple, gold stars!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Quick Update – Bike Porn!

It’s winter so not much riding going on. Plus the husband and I have bought a house, moved in, starting trying for babies and I’ve started an online campagin to get the ladies Tadpole race re-instated as ladies only. Fingers crossed!

So I’ve been busy, but not really on the bike front. I’m trying to keep this blog purely riding related, but that does make for sporadic posting and what the hell do I do if I do get pregnant and there goes riding for the best part of a year? Hmmm. Well considering I think about 3 people actually read this it’s probably not a big deal if it morphs into something else. I will however do my level best to ensure it doesn’t become a blog that could take pride of place on STFU Parents. I’m definitely more of an Offbeat Mama type of girl.

Trying to convice the Husband that if/when we require a baby’s room it should be painted with various Marvel superheros, Lord of The Rings scenes and have framed Rolling Stones lyrics, Star Wars prints and Harry Potter quotes. We’ll see.

However, back to matters in reality, my birthday present finally arrived, a month late, but hey, it drags the fun out!

Custom Graphics oooooooh:

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And to christen the new house of course I made cupcakes!

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Someone Squashed My Toad (well, tadpole really)

Someone took my candy

Gutted. That particularly New Zealand expression really seems to sum up how disappointed I am.

Since I started this whole dirtbiking thing, I’ve had a very quiet goal in the back of my mind. It’s grown to become more of a likely reality and even been watered with a dash of competitiveness.

But now, someone’s burst my bubble, rained on my parade, pooped on my lawn, whatever you want to call it.

The women’s race I was planning to be my first, is now being run in with the men. Crap. One small step for the sisterhood, one giant fail for me.

The Dead Toad is NZ’s longest running hare scramble. It’s held in the forest I grew up with and it’s always held mythical status for me. I’ve been “pit bitch” for my Dad since I was strong enough to hold a gas can and was off playing in the forest while Mum did the honours before that. I coveted the ceramic Toad trophies given to all finishers and in time helped my brother when he raced. In fact this was the first race I went to when I came back from my time overseas, I witnessed my brother win this 3 hour race 20 minutes ahead of the second place getter and overheard people talking about how brilliant he is.

My Mum has even completed the Toad. One of few women to do so at that time.

Eventually the organisers recognised the demand for a junior/kids race and set up The Dead Tadpole (for the little Toads!) which ran the day before the Toad, which difference races for various age groups and hallelujah put a womens race in at the end of the day.

It was brilliant to watch and I loved being part of it, pit bitching for my Mum was part of what inspired me to give this bike thing a go.

The Tadpole has been a Saturday event for a few years now and still is. However the club has decided to run the women in with the men on Sunday this year.

The men race 3 hours, the women 2, but we’ll be out on the track together. When my Dad broke the news to my Mum and I we both looked at each other and said in unison “I’m not riding”.

I know a lot of the guys who will be racing, I know how tough and fast they are. I also know how annoyed and frustrated they will be if they’re constantly getting caught up behind me. The ones I know well will be patient, the ones I don’t know will just ride straight through me (and Mum).

There are about 4 women who race in with men often. They’re fast and inspiring and very cool chicks. I would have been in their way too, but its way easier to move aside for 4 people and let them pass, then to spend the whole race getting knocked around and diving off the track for the 30 odd people who would be gunning past me now.

It’s a recipe for a total lack of fun and 95% certainty of injury.

I was excited, the Husband and my Dad had both said my speed was getting up to a point where I could happily go in the race. No way in hell would I be in the front, my only goal (quietly to myself) was to see if I could beat my Mum. It was meant to be a fun day out and to push myself to ride faster than I usually do. The strategy was to let the fast girls speed off the line then do my best to catch up (yeah right) and enjoy the day.

Not gonna happen now and I am actually pretty disappointed.

The Toad/Tadpole was the one race where women were against women on a track by themselves. All other races that I know off are just prizes for the first, second and third women home off a track all in with guys. I know I’m not ready for that yet. I don’t want to get hurt and I also don’t want to spoil someone else’s race with them being stuck behind a noob.

So looks like I’ll be back to pit bitching, this time for the husband. I hope he has a good ride.

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Conquering the Demons (aka letting go of the brakes!)

Some athletes have lucky socks. Some put their gear on a certain way. Me, I’m not an athlete, but I’m starting to think I have my own pre-ride superstitions. If my Mom’s there, I have a great ride.

Yep. 30 years old and I still need my momma. I’m 100% fine with that.

Yesterday was fantastic. I had (and still have) a nasty headcold that had followed hot on the heels of a nasty gastrobug that still left me weak, and wary of spicy food, but I refused to be left at home. There’s no riding for a few weeks now so I can recover, have to play when the opportunity arises! The only downside was the rear shock had blown it’s seals so the husband was pretty sad. My Dad very sweetly offered for them to take turns on Dad’s bike, so they both got to ride. Some consolation.

I on the other hand, (I can make it all about me, it’s MY blog!) had a fantastic ride. We did a quick loop of the Junior/Intermediate track with the Husband and I felt happy and at home on my bike. Knowing that Mum is right behind me makes me think more about my riding, I pick my lines and pay attention. I have a habit of daydreaming! Plus it makes me keep my speed up and push a little harder as I don’t want to slow her down.

The Husband was being cautious and careful with Dad’s bike (very sensible!) but even still he said he was surprised with how close behind him I was, he even said I was riding the F word (yes, Fast! Woohoo!).

Dad offered to take us out on the Intermediate/Advanced route when we got back. I had initially planned to be sensible and take it easy but screw that, I was having fun!

The trail was brilliant. Some really tight and twisty sections, long tree rooted hill climbs and easy flowing trails with hidden stumps and roots to keep you awake! I loved it. The only bit I struggled with was one section where I just got bogged in the deep sand, the little wheel curse struck again. But otherwise I could not stop grinning! I was attacking uphills and picking lines past people stuck and struggling. Good old Dad was waiting to help us but ending up making a lot of new friends as he pushed and pulled people over roots and out of ruts.

But the biggest reason I was smiling? TAKE THAT SCARY SANDY DOWNHILLS! Yep, I toughened up, faced the fear and backed the hell off the brakes. I wasn’t so much talking to myself as screaming “Let Go Let Go Let Go!”” at every downhill, forcing myself to look ahead, pick my run off escape route and break as little as possible, in fact not at all in some cases. It was amazing. I kept telling myself I couldn’t hold Mum up and that braking and going slow makes it harder (which is true), anything I could think off including cursing at myself to get my foot and hand off the brakes and keep my speed up.

I really felt like I’d taken a huge step forward and was attacking everything with more speed and confidence than before. I am fully aware that pride comes before a fall, it’s only a matter of time before I hit a tree and slow down again, but at the moment I’m loving this feeling and loving the time I am spending with my family.

Bring on the next ride!

Ok, the hill wasn’t this big, but I did feel a bit like Sarah vs Jareth. With less scary blue leggings.

 

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In Silence Hides the Yellow Bellied Chicken…

I had all these brilliant excuses for why I haven’t written a blog post in a while.

I was busy, I had my 30th birthday party to plan then hold, I’ve been stressed and worn out with the final stages of buying our house, I’ve been sick, then I got sick again, then I got Really sick.

But honestly, I didn’t want to write because I then I would have to admit it. That that “thing” that I convinced myself wouldn’t turn into a “thing”, was in fact a THING.

Crap.

Yes, at a ride 2 weeks ago now I faced my first steep sharp sandy downhill since my buttock clenching freefall of the previous ride and I freaked out. One look over the lip of the hill and I squealed, stalled, and toppled sideways.

Great.

I was out on an advanced trail with my Dad, he was waiting at the bottom of the hill for me. I picked myself up and blinked furiously at the beginnings of tears. I “hot dogged” my bike down the hill and pushed it up to Dad. “Did you just stall and wobble?” he asked, I muttered something non committal and we rode off.

But the damage was done. And little hill after that and I was hard on the brakes, locking the wheels up and making it twice as hard and scary for myself. I got round everything, but I was pretty close to terrified and not having fun. I was missing my riding buddy Mum a lot. Plus Dad & the Husband misread a track deviation at one point, they shot off down an expert track, I ended up alone on the intermediate. Not really  a big deal, but it did mean I spent about 15 minutes and stupid amount of energy hauling my bike up a deep sandy hill. My little wheels kept getting bogged and I was pushing and dragging more than riding!

It wasn’t till we got home that the Husband mentioned  how quiet I was. So I owned up. “I’m terrified of the sandy downhills, I fell off heaps.” I explained how I’d given myself a big fright at the last ride, and now every time I look down I panic.

They both tried to be consolatory, the husband even suggested I go out on the farm and ride down every hill I can find, which was a great idea, but it was dark now and what with one thing and another the opportunity never arose.

And now we were heading back into the forest again and I had to face those stupid sandy hills. I was determined to get over it and move forward.

 

Woodhill – good for playing and racing!

 

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Back On Top!

Attitude firmly adjusted, and wow – I had a fantastic ride!

Great family ride!

A local farmer gave our club permission to host the first ever trail ride on their farm. Not only was it the chance to ride brand new terrain, it was also a fundraiser for a tiny local school, a double win!

It was beautiful – but a bit scary! Huge paddocks with a mix of rolling hills and steep ridges. There were a few short deep sandy patches, just enough to get a “glow” on I slid from side to side across the track, but we quickly popped back out onto lush grass.

The scary part came in the form of some big “bull holes”, and some steep downhills off the sides of ridges.

A bull hole is exactly what it sounds like. A large (usually deep) hole, dug out by a bull. They can be hard to spot when you’re flying across a paddock, only to have the ground disappear under your wheels, sending you cartwheeling over the bars. They are equally hard to spot when you’re not exactly flying, but gazing at the scenery and daydreaming about Steven McQueen. Note to self – keep your head in the game! At least I wasn’t staring fixedly down at my front mudguard, which is my other default riding position.

The steep ridges were ok the first round, I cruised down them happily, hanging off the back and feathering the brakes. But on the second round however, I don’t know quite what happened. I totally stuffed up the first steep downhill, I think I over braked on the initial sandy top section, which sent me sliding out of control down the next grassy section, which was quite rough. So I was being bucked down this steep angle, totally out of control, just managed to bite off the end of a slight squeal as I charged passed by my Dad. Lucky for me there was a lot of run off at the bottom.

So that basically scared the crap out of me and set the tone for the rest of the ride. I was bloody terrified at every steep downhill from then on! Which of course made me tense up and get more out of control. I was virtually screaming instructions at myself in my head at every downhill, determined not to allow this sudden crippling fear to develop into a “thing”.

Mum was having a great day, she’s got a new kickstart lever on her bike which has made a huge difference. She can start her bike easy now, its been a noticeable confidence boost. We were having a great time and I was spending most of the trail in third or even fourth gear  – A big achievement for me!

We did about 3 loops before regrouping for lunch, where Dad suggested he and the husband escort us ladies around some of the expert deviations. We talked it over with the guys who marked out the trails and they suggested which ones would be a good challenge.

I had the most fun I’ve had so far! It was fantastic! For once all four of us rode together at much the same place. I could follow the boy’s lines and was tackling steep ups and downs, just attacking the trails. I had a huge grin on my face, even down the downhills (internalized screaming, outward smile/grimace!) it forced me to ride just a smidge faster than I was comfortable and proved to me that I could handle it.

Even sections I didn’t quite make were fun, my whole attitude was “this is AWESOME” rather than “I SUCK” and it’s amazing how much difference it made. I hit a bump just on the lip of a long, steep uphill and went into orbit. Didn’t quite stick the landing but dear old Dad was expecting that and caught my bike as I tumbled off the side. He looked at me wide-eyed, clearly expecting tears or a tantrum. I just laughed and helped him drag the bike out of the way of the next rider.

At the next big uphill I picked the totally wrong route and got bounced off to the side about 3/4 of the way up. I just picked myself and bike up, rolled back down (yes rolled DOWN a scary downhill lol) and tried again. Got the same result on the next attempt and cracked up laughing as a very cautious Dad yelled down to see if I was ok, and to suggest I tried aiming for a different part of the hill.

The whole ride was like that. I felt so happy and loved having my family around me. Even when I screwed up it wasn’t a big deal. I gave everything 100% effort so it was 100% fun!

I even pushed for one final lap when everyone else was ready to leave, as I was determined to nail the first hill of doom that gave me such a fright. So Mum and I took off for our “victory lap” and had so much fun. I got some wire wrapped around my back wheel, we stopped to unwind it and I gave Mum a big hug and told her how much fun I was having and how I love having her as my riding buddy.

Her response? “Best Mother’s Day ever!”

Happy Mother’s Day to the most awesome Mom I know.

And check this out, a vid of the ride we did (not our video!): http://vimeo.com/42161943

Mini-Cupcakes for Mother’s Day

 

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