Pure Mountains: Last Day

The last diary blog entry from my Spanish adventure at Pure Mountains

Day 5: The rain in Spain…

I woke up for breakfast feeling dazed and more tired than usual. I put this down to the rain which was a downpour most of the night, waking me up occasionally. And it was still going when I stepped outside my room. I thought to myself, “this should be fun”. Having misplaced my jacket before coming out here, and leaving my Sealskinz at home, I knew I would be in for a wet ride today. I did my best to wrap up, cover up and brace myself and we headed off down the rocky routes with Jenny as our guide.

 Rainy Spain
Rainy Spain

Within 2 minutes, my glasses were rendered useless as I couldn’t see anything. So I pushed on without them, and still couldn’t see anything. I felt very uneasy today on the bike, it was slippery and loose which sent my back-end into a waving frenzy. The rocky single tracks would have been better off as a slip-n-slide, but sadly I’d left my bikini behind. We stopped in the town to grab a cuppa at the halfway marker, although I’m not sure this was the best idea because my body started to get very cold once it had stopped, and putting back on the wet gloves was nothing fun. During the second half of the trail, we had to ride through a flowing stream. As if my feet weren’t cold and wet enough, they were now swimming in a FiveTen pond. I really struggled with my breathing today, the high altitude and damp air made it almost impossible for me to breathe enough. I must have sounded like tug-boat.

 Rain face
Rain face

We reached Tim who had the truck to cart us back to the lodge. I made a b-line for the shower, peeling off every layer and draping it over the hot radiators. My toes and fingers were numb and the hot shower had me wincing, it felt like a cold burn. But my body started to regulate and then the shower felt awesome, albeit I was still wheezing with tightness in my chest.

We had lunch and I decided to pack my bags and settle down for the rest of the day. I started to think about the journey home tomorrow and I suddenly felt a pang of homesickness, I missed the cats!

The last supper was lovely and a nice way to round off the holiday. Delicious food, great company with reflections on the previous days. We were all in high spirits and it’s a shame it had to come to an end. We had to be up the next day for a 06:00 bus, so many of us went to bed for an early night… except Linzi and I who stayed up until 01:30. The 05:00 alarm went off way too quickly!

The journey home wasn’t as bad as I thought for an early start. I drove back from the airport to be welcomed home by Gomez… who ran right past me and out the front door. Missed you too, buddy!

Pure Mountains: Day 4

Day 4 from my MTB Spanish adventure

Day 4: The ups and downs of trail riding

Another early rise for the 09:00 breakfast: eat, dress and kit-up to be on the trails for 10:00. Today we had Tim as our guide, leading us through some new un-ventured paths, with coaching and tips on the way from Katy. This was the longest trail we’d done so far, and a little more demanding on the climbing side of things. However, Tim and Jenny have devised a great structure for biking days: we have a sit-down tea and cake break half way through, and the ups and downs are evenly balanced. Great for the unfit riders, like me! Today’s trail was a little more challenging with very tight switchbacks, a lot of off-camber single track and some mighty plant life to attack you on the way through. I really enjoyed today though, I quite like the technical sections that make you think about what you’re doing, what the best line is and how to stay on the bike! I feel that I learn the most from days like these, rather than just death-gripping my way downhill at speed.

 Smiles all round!
Smiles all round!

Jenny collected us at the end of the trail and scooted us back to the lodge for lunch before Katy would put us through our paces with some coaching. Today we focused on jumps and drops where we were to put into practise the coaching we had received so far: front/back wheel lifts. Along with guidance on body position, approach and timing, I was able to pull of something that resembled a “graceful” jumping action.

After coaching we had some down time to shower and relax the muscles before heading out to the local hotel for some food. The social aspect of this holiday is amazing! I feel really lucky that this group is so friendly, easy to talk to and interesting. It’s great sharing stories and getting to know one another, but also support and encourage one another whilst riding. It’s one of the best things about mountain biking: community. After a very filling meal, we headed back to the lodge to rest up for our final day of riding.

Pure Mountains: Day 3

Day 3 from my Spanish adventure, with coaching from Katy Curd

Day 3: Who needs skin?

Up and early for our 09:00 breakfast, and then straight to the trails. I was feeling pumped for day two, despite the subtle aches in my body from the previous day. Today Jenny took us all out on a new route, with Katy offering support and coaching along the way. The terrain here is very rocky, loose and brambley! I wore my usual socks, knee pads and shorts combo with a short sleeve jersey. However, every single inch of exposed skin was attacked by brambles, nettles and these annoying spikey spores that embed themselves in your skin. By the end of the trail my chicken legs were shredded. I feared the hot shower after where each and every cut and scrape would sting.

 Coach Curd talking us through some rocky rocks and stoney stones
Coach Curd talking us through some rocky rocks and stoney stones

After lunch at the lodge, the second part of the day was coaching with Katy outside. Tim and Jenny have built a little coaching track for cornering and pumping which we sessioned under the eagle eye of the coach. Mountain biking is a fantastic sport, and the more I ride, the more I learn… and the more confused I am. There’s so many elements that make the perfect bunny-hop or the perfect jump, that have to be timed and carried out in an orderly manner. Feet, legs, hips, arms, eyes… I seem to ever remember 2 or 3 at any one attempt. It’s great though because when you do start to piece things together, get a little better and see the improvement, you feel awesome. Today we attacked some berms and put some cornering techniques to use. Usually, I just wing it and hope for the best, but today we learnt the importance of weight and body placement, and being able to really move the bike under you. Coaching from Katy is always fun, with the only pressure on you is to complete the pump track without pedalling… or else you don’t get tea and cake afterwards!

 Coaching starts with track stands
Coaching starts with track stands

We had a lovely chilled out evening afterwards, all together in front of the wood burner, nice and cosy with Katy sharing her race and riding stories. Tim and Jenny spoilt us with a gorgeous 3 course dinner which was the perfect way to wind down before getting some much needed rest. I could feel my muscles starting to scream at me already, but no pain, no gain.

Pure Mountains: Day 1 & 2

Day 1 and 2 Diary entry from Pure Mountains Holiday with Katy Curd

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.

 Pano of the fab views
Pano of the fab views

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.

 Coaching with Katy
Coaching with Katy

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).