I have always had a lot of respect for Graeme Obree. He was definitely a man ahead of his times the way he trained, prepared, altered bikes and never ceased to give up when is so often appeared that ever door was closing on him. I remember reading his book (that was no easy feat), it was very dark in places mainly driven by his illness and I often found it hard to relate to certain parts of it mainly due to the fact that I am very different from him personality wise. As an athlete and more particularly an athlete living in Scotland I got a lot from the words he wrote along the way. One sentence always sticks with me where he states there is no such thing as bad weather . . . . only a poor choice of clothing! That still makes me smile as I think about heading out in the winter for a ride never quite knowing what the weather is going to be like or how many layers to wear . . . . after 5 years it is still very much a work in progress and I often get it wrong but life is all about learning right???
I'm very proud to be Scottish and learning to mountain bike here has definitely provided me with an incredible foundation to build my skills. Where else can you ride in the mud, snow, sunshine and rain all in one simple 2 hour trail ride? Throw into that mixture some of the best varied trails out there and you have the perfect ingredients. Anyway before going off on too much of a tangent I will get back to my earlier point the weather, the beautiful Scottish winter. I think training through a Scottish winter definitely makes you stronger but this year for a week I packed my bags (well actually sat on them to make them shut-mental note to still work on the packing skills) and flitted to Gran Canaria (aka Big Dog) with two trusty accomplices (Emma & Tracy) for some hard graft, quality roads, sunshine and swimming in the sea - total torture.
We hired some bikes out there from a fab shop Free Motion (www.free-motion.net/en) and were off into the hills for a week. It was great, the sun was shining, shorts and t-shirts were on and the temperature was sitting in the mid 20s all week. What was even better was that the day light hours were extended, so it was nice not to be surround by darkness so much. For a day we headed out on the mountain bikes descending from the top of the highest mountain on the island. The trails were amazing, dry, dusty, rocky, twisty and open it had it all . . . even a few technical climbs to round it all off. I think my favourite part of the ride was a section called the jungle trail it was amazing! We had a great guide for the day - Emo - cheers dude!
So although I think that Scotland, more specifically the Tweed Valley is the best place to live, train and just ride in . . . . sometimes its nice to get away.
It makes you appreciate it all the more when you come home.
Roll on the summer