Day 1: Buh Bye Wales, Hola Spain!
Fortunately I didn't have to wake up too early for this adventure, unlike the Red Bull Foxhunt last month. It's nice to have the time to ensure all last minute packing is done, cats have been sufficiently smothered and a good breakfast is in the tummy.
I arrived at Cardiff airport with time to spare, and that's when I met up with Linzi from the Velo Vie Ladies. Together we made our way through to departures for a cuppa before boarding. But to our amazement, we were face with a rebel army of giants. I'm sure some of them could medically be classed as giants because there was a group of blue cladded rugby players. Now, I don't own TV, let alone follow sports so for all I know, these could have been some famous players... but all I could see were masses of pecs (at my eye-height), and replicated Polynesian tattoos.
Our flight was on-time, and quick! Probably because I slept the whole way. Once we arrived, collected our luggage we headed into the arrivals hall where we met up with the rest of the Pure Mountains brigade. Seven of us in total, and a driver, we boarded the bus and embarked on our 3 hour ride to the Pure Mountains lodge. Upon arrival we were met by Jenny and Tim, the owners of the company, and they had prepared a lavish evening meal which we devoured and spent time chatting and getting to know one another.
Usually when I go away (or even just go to work), I miss the cats. So I was concerned that I would have some uber homesickness this trip. However, I was relieved to meet Lucy, Jimmy and Tom, the Pure Mountains pets. And they are amazing!
Day 2: Sun, Mountains, Bikes and Vultures
09:00 breakfast was a feast of fruit, porridge, toast and eggs. Essential fuel for the day of riding we had ahead. After getting dressed, packed and sorted with bikes, we set off into the Sierra Nevada mountains. With Tim as our guide, Katy Curd as our coach, we were ready for a morning of trail riding. I found the altitude and the heat somewhat of a barrier given the first half was all uphill climbing. I was overheating, and no matter how deeply I breathed, I just couldn't seem to get enough oxygen in my lungs. At this point I should mention that a few years ago I underwent lung surgery which has since restricted my breathing capacity at the best of time, but add high altitude and heat, it did take me a little longer than usual to get my breath back.
The scenery was absolutely fantastic, like nothing I've ever seen before. Clear unblemished sky, rolling rocky mountains and vultures. I think Katy counted 17 of them, just hovering and circling over-head. Would this be a bad omen? We pushed on until the halfway marker when Jenny met us with the Jeep and we sat down for a cuppa and biscuit break. Definitely needed.
We carried on through the rocky climbs, and made it to the top where we grouped up and prepared for the long descent. And the descent was fun! Very rocky and flowy with some tight technical switch-backs and loose terrain to slide out on. It was awesome fun though and once at the bottom, Jenny met us with the Jeep to take us all back to the lodge. We had a lovely lunch and some downtime, before beginning the coaching session with Katy Curd.
I've had some coaching with Katy before and I've always come away on a high from understanding or learning something new. Today was no different. She's excellent at showing, and talking you through the basic skills, like manuals and bunny-hops. Granted, I'm still terrible at them (I'm a slow learner), but I'm really getting better and the pointers from Katy are really helpful. I can get the front wheel up, and the back, but I'm not yet able to connect the two together.
For the evening, Jenny took us down to a local hotel where we had some amazing food then headed back to the lodge for a chill and social beer or two (tea for me though).