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canoeing, kayaking and other adventures

canoeing and kayaking adventures born in the Southeastern U.S. and now centered in Scotland...

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Mind Over Matter: A Return to Glentress - 5/4/2008

Back to the scene of the crime. Months and months ago, I set a goal for myself to go back to Glentress by the time the one year anniversary of my argument with the jumps course rolled around. Saturday, Brian and I went. No big groups or big announcements. I didn't want the fuss and, knowing that it would be a long slog to the top, I didn't want to slow anybody down. There's plenty of time to get faster. I wanted to get the anxiety out of my system.

We took a leisurely morning and as a consequence, the not so nice weather was with us by the time we arrived. We cycled up the hill at the pace I expected. Slow. Steady. I'll get there eventually. Hail one minute, sun the next, more hail the next minute, etc. I cycled past the scene of the crime, and kept cycling. The first little taster trail would give me an idea if I would be up for the rest. Plenty of people cycled past me, but I had the satisfaction of passing someone who had passed me only to walk a few minutes later. I'll get there eventually.

Hail is interesting here. Not always furious pelting of large bits of ice. Periodically throughout the cycle, hail fell like snow and accumulated in the grass beside the trail.

Anxiety and I had our first words on the taster section. I went first but sent Brian past me soon after. His howling brakes were not doing my composure any favours. I didn't have any real problems, physically. Twists and turns did what they were supposed to do. The change from climb to descent gave my back a rest. Then I came to the one interesting hairpin that had a couple of women strewn along the downhill below it. I wasn't ready. I Flintstones stopped and let a couple of guys past me while I figured out how to walk the next few steps. That hairpin really isn't a big deal. It's the falling away beside it that makes it look more serious. In reality, I already ran it by the time I stopped completely. Next time. I rode past the girls eventually and had no real problems the rest of the way. Mind over matter.

More climbing followed. And kept following. My mind played tricks on me, but I argued back. Brian cycled ahead. Sometimes I saw him, sometimes I didn't. I watched him have to walk a few tricky bits and yelled "Ha!" at the trail when I didn't have to. It helped with the anxiety. We reached the top and the same guys we had been passing and being passed by were waiting beside Brian. I have to admit feeling a bit out of place with the shiny bike, no clipless pedals, a fanny pack with water and a boyfriend cycling partner riding a bike with no suspension and a pannier bag attached.

The descent from Spooky Wood was another that helped purge the anxiety from my system. I zoomed ever so slowly past the tabletops and around the bends. It felt good to be back, even though everything made me nervous. Again Brian started behind me and again his squealing brakes made me not want him there. Ahead he went and I plodded along at happily slow pace. I met him at the bottom and we continued to the next track. And the next track. Some point fairly soon into the big descents, Brian burned through his brakes and added another challenge to his day. No suspension, not enough gears, not always functioning gears and now no brakes. I made him go first on each track and told him to not be stupid. If it got too hard to control the bike, there would be ways out. But I hoped we wouldn't have to bail. It felt good getting right with Glentress, even if I wasn't setting any speed records.

At one point, we stopped so Brian could attempt to fix his bike. Sadly, the rock and the stick he used as tools didn't seem to do much. He kept cycling and I kept sending him out front.

The end came sooner than I expected, though my body was tired enough for it to arrive. The wet conditions meant we took some of the trail home with us. I remembered a change of clothes but not clean shoes. Brian forgot clean trousers and clean shoes, so we shopped in Peebles for new trousers for him on our way south to Moffat.

We arrived to Moffat within the timeframe Brian expected. Joy's food was wonderful, the warm indoors was welcome and the alcohol meant when my head hit the pillow, the sleep was good.

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