Thursday, 26 June 2014

An update from Dr Sneds

I have been having a superb summer so far. Following on from the mule bar girls training camp I have been riding and training at home in the peak district. I'm not particularly that excited by road racing so I am more than happy to support the other girls whilst they slog themselves round various courses. I particularly enjoyed acting as DS at the Stoke Tour series. It gives me such a warm fuzzy feeling to see the girls gelling so well together as a team and suffering together (especially whilst I sip coffee and cheer from the safety of the roadside). This year I have had a bit of a break from the trials and tribulations of being a full time doctor and have been working part time in A&E. This has allowed me the flexibility to plan an adventure and catch up on the all the events and excitement I had missed out on the past two years when I was working nearly every weekend. This summer I wanted to do something different with my bike and I decided I would try touring. Charge bikes very kindly helped Chris and I get our touring bikes set up ( the super sturdy Plug 5). We looked at a map of the world and decided where we would like to go. We ended up choosing Vietnam and Cambodia. Without much of a clue about what cycle touring would involve - I packed my bikinis in to my panniers and boarded a plane to Ho Chi Minh city, South Vietnam. From there Chris and I pedalled our way across the Mekong delta exploring rural villages, waterways and floating markets.Surviving mainly on noodles in broth with floating mystery meat and mini bananas. Thankfully this part of Vietnam is pan flat we barely needed to change gear all day. It was dammed hot and it soon became to the norm to stop every hour or so for a cold drink and take in the scenery. On reaching the coast (following a few days of sunburn,mild heat stroke and dicing with death with the motos), we boarded a boat to Phu Quoc island and spent a few days relaxing on the beach. After a sunset proposal on the beach and celebrations we then returned to mainland engaged and headed across the border into Cambodia. I absolutely loved Cambodia the people are so friendly, the food is fantastic and the scenery spectacular. we spent a great deal of time learning about their fairly recent genocide and civil war, the country has a tragic pasr but now seems to be thriving. Following a week of risking our necks on various dusty dirt roads we made it to Angkor Wat home to the world's largest religious site (the temples where tomb raider was filmed). It was here in the town of Siem Reap we finished our trip enjoying endless happy hour cocktails and 30p beers with a number of gap year students who had finally "found themselves, got a tattoo (terrible) and discovered Buddhism" This was our final destination before flying home and it made an unforgettable end to our trip.

Aline Coaching  - they can coach the uncoachable
Arriving home it was back to work in A&E, like I had never left and back to getting some speed in the legs. This past 12 months I have suffered a couple of nasty crashes one on the road and one breaking my elbow in the 3 peaks. Following these my nerve on the bike off road seemed to be suffering. As many of you will know in mountain biking it is particularly hard to ride with your boyfriend who is far superior and who continues to shout totally unhelpful things like "let the brakes off" until you consider whether or not you have the physical strength to strangle them using a bike chain. I spent quite a few frustrated weeks contemplating what the problem was. When skiing I'm not scared and when I want to improve I have a lesson with an instructor - so why not have a session with someone whom I won't be tempted to murder. I was browsing twitter one day when a tweet came up stating places available for mtb skills in Sheffield - I looked into it, called them up and spoke to John of Aline coaching John completely understood what I was talking about. I've had a couple of session with John who previously coached out in Whistler and helps out some of the top DH and enduro riders and it has worked wonders. John breaks things down, fixes the bad habits and constantly encourages (rather than criticise). I am so grateful for him helping me get my mojo back on the mountain bike. Hopefully Chris and I can now ride together without a hint of a murder or nuclear meltdown. I would urge any of you out there wanting to improve on the MTB but not quite sure how to do to check him out. You couldn't find a nicer more supportive chap.

Last Sunday I took part in the Eroica Britannia - this was a British version of the Italian Eroica on the Peak district's very own Strada Bianca or as we call it disused railway lines. The event is ridden on vintage bikes (pre1987) and in vintage kit. My dad has been building up to this event for the past 18 months and for it to take place on our very own home roads was the cherry on the cake. Thee vent could not have been better. This is the first year they have run it in the UK. The weather was glorious the free festival in Bakewell was a huge success and the ride - well I'm not sure I can put into words the joy of riding around the peak district on my vintage Mercian with 2000 other enthusiasts, the feed stops included free Pimms, beer and sparkling wine. I am already preparing myself for next year.

As we've passed the summer solstice my attention has turned to preparing for the cross season which always comes round faster than I expect and my bikes are usually still in bits. I have to go back to work full time in August so I'm trying to squeeze every last moment out of my spare time in June and July to ride my bike. Working in medicine makes you realise how short and cruel life can be and why it is paramount to enjoy as much of it as you can doing the things you enjoy with the people you love.

PS for those people that keep asking - no I will not be riding the cyclocross 3 peaks this year - I promised myself if I crawled to the finish last year I would never make myself do it again. I'm sticking to that promise. However I will be there to cheer on the rest of the riders probably with my running trainers on instead.
For those of you excited by the prospect of a wet and muddy winter filled with cross racing check these teasers out

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