Jambo! Mambo!

Finally back from my adventures in Africa and many a tale of success to tell. February really has been a fantastic month. It was great to ride up in Todmorden again with all the friendly old familiar faces, share a beer and generally catch up without having to type at 100wpm! Chipps’s 40th birthday ride was slow and relaxed, as was expected, and made all the better for his sisters homemade coconut ice – I haven’t had that since I was a child!

The cold, crisp weather highlighted the hills in all their Calderdale glory. It also meant I was freezing and the ambling pace was hardly sweat inducing. I managed a quick coffee for a final few chats before having to drive home Saturday night to catch the plane Sunday morning – I have to say leaving was quite hard. I just don’t get to ride with those guys enough any more and I see CG (G as in Chris) about twice a year if I’m lucky.

But there’s no better excuse to leave a group of your best mates in the whole wide world having fun and getting drunk gearing up for a hell of a session, than catching a flight to Africa to fulfill a life long ambition; as excuses go, I reckon it’s a valid one.

And so to the big story: actually you’ll have to wait for that as I’ve got hundreds of photos to sort through and the garbled ramblings of a daily hand written diary to decipher. It’ll all be up on the adventures page very soon. Needless to say, it was ace! Here’s a summit day taster:

Mawenzi at sunrise from Kibo

Labels: Kilimanjaro, mountain walk, sunrise, Tanzania, Todmorden

posted by MTB Girl at 20:44 5 comments 

Thursday, 14 February 2008


(Sing it like ya mean it, Freddie Mercury style!) Well, what a couple of days. I’d never been to Barcelona and I’m so glad I decided to go – it’s a lovely city and my makeshift host for the day was fantastic. I find in life that there are some people you just click with – there’s no awkwardness, you’re on the same wavelength with everything and the whole thing just feels natural. Troy is definitely one of those people, with an extra something special on top.

Soon after we met in Placa de Catalunya and found a quiet little place for coffee, the conversation turned from the usual catch up chatter to the random everyday observations of two friends who meet up regularly, rather than once a year. Topics ranged from American politics and global warming, to turtles and philosophy, with plenty of laughter and jokes thrown in. I can’t remember the last time I laughed that much in one day!

Talking only ceased to be interspersed with lots of “oohs”, “aahs” and “wows” as we toured round such sites as the Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s extravagant and still unfinished 19th century church in the heart of the city. And believe me when I say that “wow” was used every other word, but still doesn’t fully express the magnificence of this building!

More site seeing under the guise of a pub crawl filled the afternoon and from the way were just wandering into any bars, cafes and restaurants we came across and still being treated to superb coffee and excellent food, I’d say Barcelona is a fairly good city for all of these things. And pretty cheap too. It’s also small enough to be able to walk around without any real destination and bump into the various churches, museums and architectural masterpieces of Antonio Gaudi that Barcelona is famous for.

The Spanish eat late, so we went to the popular, exotic La Fianna restaurant and cocktail bar and soon made ourselves at home on the huge cushioned seats sitting cross legged with our shoes off (no, it wasn’t just us, this is the style of the restaurant, honest).

Many hours and a few more drinks later (ahem) and the day was well and truly over. Troy had to leave early Wednesday morning to catch his flight and I was sad to see him go – but I don’t think my liver was. The day was spent taking in more sites in the cool sea air and then it was time for me to leave.

An extremely successful and fun little adventure that I’m unlikely to ever forget and a tenuous friendship well and truly cemented; hopefully for a return trip in 12 years to see the finished Sagrada Familia. That would be awesome!

Labels: holiday, non-cycling, story

posted by MTB Girl at 04:04 2 comments 

Monday, 11 February 2008


Having such a busy week ahead really kicked me into gear. I got everything done that I needed to on Thursday and Friday – taxis booked, paperwork sorted, final bits of shopping done, I’ve got all the essentials I need now; I can’t imagine the next time I’ll walk into a chemist and ask “do these diarrhoea tablets come in larger packs?” I usually end up leaving this stuff to the last minute and it’s a mad panic at the end, but I’m actually ahead of the game now. As my secondary school tutor once said (Mr Pickles, not the other idiot), “if you want something done, ask a busy person.” Never a truer word said.

Then to the weekend. I couldn’t possibly have asked for three such perfect days! An early start saturday morning in glorious sunshine with clear blue skies saw Tony, Jim, Me and Newbie Dale set off on yet another section of Offa’s Dyke. This time it was the 15 mile stretch between Hay-on-Wye and Kington (aka Tony’s house, and the 15 miles was actually the estimation straight to Tony’s door, rather than a town down the road…)

Jim had packed his spare sense of humour but we didn’t need it this time. He steered clear of the Coins of Doom (chocolate coins) which he blamed for his bad mood swing last time, and stocked up on Tangfastics instead. We decided to ply Newbie with Coins of Doom instead and restrict the antedote, to see if they had the same affect. They didn’t. It’s just Jim. Newbie got his comeupence on the last stretch over the moor. It was fairly boggy in places and Tony and I were slightly ahead of the other two and walked around a large section of bog. Jim and Newbie approached and started to walk round as well, after a few feet I shouted to Dale “It’s alright there.” Actually having no idea whether it was or not, but just curious to see if he’d fall for it? Thinking that because I’d only met him that day and therefore wouldn’t possibly be so cheeky to lie to him about it, he stepped ankle deep into the bog. He just doesn’t know me at all…
Another superb 6.5hours of walking and the weather was just silly for this time of year. Can’t wait for the next one!

Straight on up north Saturday night and another frosty, crisp, stunning morning on Sunday. The cold didn’t help my poor, tight hamstrings and I hoped they’d loosen up after a few miles. Hours later they did loosen up, and then died. Maybe a 100km road ride wasn’t a great idea after a long day walking. By the time I’d come to this conclusion though it was too late and I was already at the furthest point. No way out now.

Many, many, many miles later (50 ish) and my GPS was saying only 20km to the end of the route. Hurray! It was getting dark, I was very hungry, out of water, my legs were like lead and it was getting cold, but I can manage that. Sadly, I’d done a ‘Tony’ – it was 20km to where the end of the route meets up with part of the first section, the hotel was further away…

Oh dear. Another sense of humour failure, from my riding partner. It probably wasn’t the right time to tell them that the batteries on my GPS were dying. Must ride faster. And even though the setting sun did signify impending doom (hypothermia, dangerous roads with no lights, increased possibility of getting lost), it was really pretty! See, there’s always a silver lining!

A beautiful forest walk today and then home to prepare for the next leg of my journey. If the rest of February is as amazing as the last few days, I’m in for a real treat!

Labels: 100km, mountain walk, road ride, story

posted by MTB Girl at 20:39 0 comments 

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

The Best Kind of Predicament

So here’s how my day took a bizarre turn. All was going pretty well. (Actually, the word catastrophic had been used more than once today, but fortunately it wasn’t our fault, so it depends from whose point of view you look at things, anyway…) Early evening I got a text from a friend in Colorado who said he was on a plane to Barcelona for the week, did I want to meet up?

It sounded fun so I looked at the price of flights and getting a couple of days off. It would mean the next few days would be a bit busier than I’d hoped because I had shopping to do, nurse appointments, was driving to Wales friday night for a weekend walk and then heading north to ride bikes for a bit. Still, perfectly do-able.

Then it dawned on me, I don’t have my passport, it’s with the Tanzanian High Commission! Hmmm, with a little bit of effort and a lot of organisation, this is perfectly do-able; I think…

So, after some frantic phone calls: if I swap my Thursday early shift to a late shift, move my nurses appointment to friday afternoon, go to the Post Office Thursday morning to see if my passport is there and if not go to the Tanzanian High Commission, that all means I can still do the shopping I need Thursday lunchtime, do an early shift friday, straight to the nurse for a Rabies vaccination then onto Wales. Phew! That’s if I spend all evening packing my stuff and then load the car tomorrow morning.

Then, I can be in Wales late friday evening, do a 20 mile walk on Saturday, drive north Saturday night, ride bikes on Sunday and Monday, be back in time for night shift Monday night. Get to the airport early Tuesday morning, fly to Barcelona in time for lunch. Spend the day there, fly home Wednesday evening in time for night shift Wednesday. Unpack the car on Thursday and start packing my stuff again. Sleep.

Night shift Thursday, drive straight up to Todmorden Friday morning, birthday ride for Chipps’ 40th birthday on Saturday, drive home in the evening. Unpack the car, tidy up, straighten the house, double check I have packed everything for my holiday(!), get to the coach station at 4am to catch a plane from Heathrow at 8am Sunday 17th February to fly to Tanzania for two weeks. Woohoo!

Yep, that’s er, do-able. Only time will tell I guess.

Labels: non-cycling, story

posted by MTB Girl at 22:02 1 comments 

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Pancake Day!

Hurray for Pancake Day! I love Pancake Day (as well as Christmas). It was pancakes with kiwi fruit and mango this morning, pancakes with the customary lemon and sugar for lunch, and a proper dinner followed by – you guessed it – pancakes! With a variety of toppings including chocolate spread.
I fully intended to go for a ride at some point, but the weather was totally rubbish and I got side tracked with painting, tidying, web stuff and er, making pancakes.
I have a feeling that this weekend is going to hurt as I’m nowhere near as fit as I hoped I was going to be. Doh!

Labels: Pancake day

posted by MTB Girl at 20:27 1 comments 

Friday, 1 February 2008

Afternoon Ride

Another good couple of hours out on the bike today. It was lovely and sunny and bright, which lulled me into a false sense of warmth and I forgot my Endura overshoes – my feet were freezing for most of the ride. A harsh mistake to make.

I intended to be out for 3 hours, seeing as it was such a lovely day, but I’d misjudged the route and only lasted 2h30m. It is quite gratifying just to be able to jump on the bike with nothing more than a few spares and a water bottle and be able to ride round and round for miles on end. It’s taken quite a few years to get to this stage, but I know the area well enough now.

There was a vicious head wind the whole ride. It was an effort to stay upright. The problem with Buckinghamshire is that once you get over Ivinghoe Beacon and the Chilterns it just goes flat. Really flat! Which means the wind whistles across the plains for miles – hitting me straight in the face and making it rather hard going. Then it did that really clever thing of changing direction the minute I turned homeward. Don’t you just hate it when that happens.

Back home in the warm and a nice cup of tea and slice of Lyles Golden Syrup cake end the ride perfectly.

Labels: road ride

posted by MTB Girl at 20:02 3 comments