My first taste of mountain biking was two years ago when I was cajoled by some guys from work into making up numbers for their Mountain Mayhem 24hr team. They knew as a keen triathlete I could lend some pedal strokes, but it was painful work on a rigid bike built for city commuting. This dirty hobby appealed to my Peak District fell running sensibilities so I was eager to give this familiar yet foreign sport another go. It was six months later when I got a chance to borrow an old hardtail for a weekends biking, unfortunately I was thrust straight into my boyfriend’s DH race which was completely out of my league, dismounting at the first obstacle... the next few opportunities were chasing him and his mates along red and black trails across the country and even Passport Du Solei in The Alps. There’s nothing like being thrown in the deep end, and although I didn’t sink, I didn’t exactly flow upstream either.
Aware of my lack of technique and confidence, I accidently found the perfect solution with Einat and Vic at Mountain Biking Spain. Initially I booked for the love of the exploring mountains by bike and hoped they would give me some tips along the way. I was in for a treat as they delivered Tapas style learning – plated to suit me, gearing up a digestible notch at a time. They and my friend watched me take each step, until I’d had my fill and started to feel queasy. The pressure was on and many deep breaths and gulps of water were required, but this was a necessary evil if I was to improve. I took everything on board and they were patient with me. They re-trained my body position from an aerodynamic 'tucked in' roadie, into a more aggressive one with outwardly pointed hoofs and tentacles, ready for action. As I gained trust in their experience and advice, now was the time to push myself technically - challenges on the table that I rejected the first day were ripped up into a pulp by day three.
The middle day we opted for new territory and drove north to Yecla for the Komo Kabras 45k Enduro. Einat, out to podium again got to the front of the lycra massive. Having already raced twice the week before I placed myself at the back, ensuring anything technical (such as the rocky singletrack) could be handled in my own time and space. It was actually all do able and very fast... until the rain hit. As the 150 riders in front churned through the middle section of earthy fire road - creating muddy conditions, I finally made headway in this familiar UK terrain. But the dust and mud soon turned into claggy clay and became unrideable. I was now pushing a heavy bike, scraping and prodding the thick mess off every 20 metres. There were many bike casualties by the half way refreshment stop (even the support van got stuck) and eventually a meat van came to rescue the broken steeds. Spirits remained high during the event (the car wash had never been so busy!) and all entrants were fed, received a bottle of vino tinto and an event branded picnic cool bag.
Although my short trip was often intensely focused on learning, it was still a relaxing break. Vic and Einat did all the guiding with ease, dropping into authentic Spanish villages for all the best coffees, Tapas and Menu del Dias. Sharing their local and biking knowledge without preciousness or arrogance, and welcoming us to their extensive back garden of the Sierra de Los Filabres was priceless