Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Monster Prep

A weekend of training to report on, and a key weekend in our journey towards the Monster at the end of April - there was to be a mountain bike ride, a hill walk, a run, and questions to ask of both myself and Bill, my Monster team mate who came down from Edinburgh for the weekend: how are we doing?  Where are our strengths and weaknesses?  Who would crash out first on the sofa in the evening?

In the event I had a cracking training period that extended to a rapid 5 mile run on Friday before Bill arrived, and 90 minutes of turbo trainer hell after he'd left.  That was 5 training sessions in 3 days...not sure I've ever done that before.

We were lucky with the weather on Saturday: we dressed for winter but got spring pretty early in the ride, so there was a serious amount of de-layering at the top of the first climb.  I "treated" Bill to my usual Macclesfield Forest circuit, which comprises long grinding climbs, short, steep climbs, technical climbing (you see a theme emerging), but then bone shaking descents on loose stone, cross-countrying across the moors near England's 2nd highest pub (Cat & Fiddle) and some lovely riding through the evergreens of the Forest.  2.5 hours of country goodness.  I enjoyed it, not having been out on the MTB for 10 months.  I'm not entirely sure Bill did. 

A hearty lunch of carbohydrate, drizzled with carbohydrate and nestling on a jus of, erm, carbohydrate, and we were ready for an afternoon of hillwalking.  We were out of the door just after 1, to return just before 5.30, and even more impressively only half an hour of that was in the pub.  It was a glorious afternoon, and I covered most of the 12-13 miles clad only in a t-shirt on my top half, even at the peak of The Matterhorn of Cheshire (Shutlingsloe, 506m), unheard of for March.  Our mutual congratulations at the top of that ascent were tempered a bit when we saw a 3 year old up there, who appeared to have made it unaided.  'Nuff respec' to the little 'un.  We were down the hill like mountain goats on the other side (kinda), and after a stroll through the highways and byways of Wildboarclough and Higher Sutton happened upon the St Dunstan's Inn.  A couple of pints of Hannibal's Nectar seemed a Most Appropriate means of rehydration.  With a wholly unnecessary log fire, rugby on the tv, and a cajoling landlord it was tough to leave to do the last couple of miles home, but manfully we achieved it...only to watch rugby, clean up and go back out to a different pub - we had much rehydrating to undertake.

Sunday dawned disappointing - cloudy and cool.  But still, a plan is a plan, so we hit the towpath trail for a 4 and a bit mile run.  I've commented on Bill's relationship with running before, and it doesn't seem like they're going to have a reconciliation any time soon.  That said, there is a short and steep climb in the 2nd half of the flattest circuit I can find round here, and Bill powered up it no problem.  I think we're going to be fine on the Monster in terms of fitness - achieving our goal of 15 hours is going to be down to a combination of pain management and time management.  Pills should sort out the first half, and a resolution to be static as little as possible the second.

Overall, a good weekend showing we're on target, and highlighting a couple of areas we can improve.  Must keep drinking, must keep drinking (and I'm not talking about Hannibal's Nectar).....

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