My awesome team, MuleBarGirls-SigmaSport are being super supportive of my discipline-of-most-focus, Gravity Enduro, and sent me out to Spain to train for a few days. I flew in with the roadie girls and at the airport we went our separate ways, to rejoin at the weekend.
So there I was, on my own in Gibraltar needing to get to Malaga (yes, I know, wrong airport) and my 27.4KG bike bag and the girlfriend of the guy who runs Roost DH willing to look after me. So Big Up to Sophie, the wild blonde chick who managed to make a trip through "The Boarder" to the bus station feel like a terribly exciting adventure. I resigned to Paddington Bear status as Sophie hailed taxis, bought my ticket and loaded me onto the bus, making sure that the bus driver knew where I was getting off (I didn't) and that Mal would be there at the other side to meet me.
Mal had kindly saved me a late night plate of food, but I was struggling to eat it, a few hours later once I was in bed I realised why. The potato salad I had had in Gib must have poisoned me and I spent the night with my head down the toilet heaving, spewing, snotting, crying, sweating and trembling...gutted that my week had started out like this!! At 4am I passed out just praying that I could ride the next day.
At 7.30am I crawled down to breakfast to say hi to my new friends for the week and to see if I could fuel up for the day ahead. I couldn't eat, but I quickly realised that I had got super lucky with my fellow riders; the Swedish world cup lads, Paul who owns his own BMX shop (cool, huh!) The Staff and Awesome Chick # 2, Seraina, my sistafromanothamista.
I promptly fell asleep in the van on the way to the first trail in the mountains despite the Heavy Metal pouding the insides of the van. When we arrived I wasn't sure what to expect. Everyone else was on DH rigs, whereas I was on my Cannondale Jekyll trail bike. I needn't have worried, the trail was mellow and we had a chilled out ride down it together as a group, stopping to look at tricky sections and to make sure no-one was hitting anything blind. I loved the trail which started pedally, a few berms into a line of hip jumps, a little valley with some "badadadum" rock gardens (the flow of which is apparently the Rhythm of Seraina's life, and a damn good Rhythm to live to IMO) and then a final, fast pedal to the bottom. It was a beautiful 5 minute run at the bottom of which the van would be waiting, music blaring, to take us straight back up.
The next couple of days were dictated by the weather as it started raining. This was a complete shock to me and something I had not prepared for. My suitcase full of bikini's and hot pants just weren't gonna cut it, so Mal lent me a rain coat. It was this sort of nothing is a bother, totally chilled helpfulness that made Roost such a lovely place to stay. Especially for someone as scatty as me!!
We rode a mix of trails and I hearted the feeling of improving with each repeat run, when your tentativity and precaution gives way to the feeling of flow and playfulness. The scenery was stunning and the mountains were still pretty lush (thanks to the way in which the bark tranfers the water to it's leaves...thanks Tree Geek Andy!) and everyday I did something that scared me being guided through by the super patient and enthusiastic staff.
Of course, it all ended with a party.
With my food poisoning only a faint reminder I was READY to get on it! The night began with Seraina walking into a lamppost and it ended, as all party nights should, with dancing on the tables.
It was now time to head over to see the rest of the Team who had been training hard over near Cadiz. 6 1/2 hours of buses through Spain, which was actually more enjoyable than it sounds and I found them at night making friendship bracelets with a Spanish family on a patio at the end of a dirt track. They all looked pretty tanned and pretty weary so it was clear they had been spending long hours in he saddle. Luckily I joined them on rest day and we did a gentle pedal down to the beach for coffee, ice-cream and a bit of sun-burning. The girls have clearly really bonded and it makes me think that on top of the serious training, the genuine friendship is gonna make them a formidable force on the road this summer!
I am gonna end this blog with some heartfelt thank you's.
Thank you Team MuleBar Girl - SigmaSport for supporting this awesome trip!
Thank you Cannondale for the best bike in the world, I love it like a friend.
Thank you Roost DH for literally offering the best service imaginable, I'm gonna tell everyone how much I salute you!
Thank you Steve from Cycling Espnana for the transfers and helping me join the team for a lil while.
And finally, Thank you Gibraltan potato salad....for getting me down to race weight in 48 hours.