My first brevet

Monday, February 06, 2006

A dirty aside

My cycling background is dirty - I am an MTBer at heart.

This Saturday my MTB riding buddies had arranged a ride at my favourite place - the estate of the ex-King of Greece. This is a huge plot of land near where I live and because the ex-King and the Greek State have been quarrelling over its ownership for more than 30 years, it has remained untouched by “civilisation” and has become an MTB paradise!! You can spend an entire day in there easily going up and down fire-roads and single track for all skill levels.

I have been avoiding riding the MTB for about two months. I stayed focused on my road training in order to prepare for this brevet - but this 'invitation' was hard to refuse. Besides I felt that all this road training had sterilised me and I needed something dirty in order to spice up my …bike life.

So we met at the specified place. The meeting was set at 9:30 but in good MTB tradition people were still arriving by 10:00. So we prepared for the ride and some differences between the road and the MTB world became evident. Before a road ride it only takes about 2 minutes to prepare. An MTB ride involves so many different equipment – “is my camelback on”, “what kind of gloves do I need today?” “do I have all my tools ? “, “Do I have enough food? “, “Where is the first aid kid? “. It takes forever just to make sure you have everything with you !! And of course I had to endure the ‘teasing’ of everybody about my betrayal of the MTB camp.

So I buckled up (helmet, leg and arm protections, hydration pack etc) and I had an extremely pleasant and welcome surprise was when I put on my hydration backpack – I discovered that I needed to shorten the straps around my waist!! What a confidence boost!

So we set off – riding my mountain bike after too months was not as a strange experience as I thought. The ride starts with an easy ascend up a twisty single track which I enjoyed a lot. I mashed around all obstacles and felt good as my suspension absorbed anything I threw at the bike. After half an hour we entered the most physically demanding part of the ride – a fire-road ascend. I thought that it would be easy after all the road training, but boy was I wrong!! As I have been consistently training in the flats it appears that by body has forgotten how to climb. My legs were aching and I lost my breath almost immediately. My heart rate climbed to over 170bpm and to make matters worse I was not going faster than 8kph. What the hell was going on ?

I reached the top of this first summit, completely knackered, out of breath and mentally destroyed. We still had at least another hour and a half of solid ascending before we reached the highest point of the climb. I started to have second thoughts that this MTB ride was not a good idea after all – how on earth would I do another 100+ tomorrow if my legs were hurting? (….and why on earth was I so tired ?)

So we climbed higher and higher and I settled into a good rhythm – my heart rate fell and stabilised at reasonable levels and I started having fun. I entered the water pools that were everywhere and as we climbed higher we found the leftovers from the big snowstorms that hit Athens two weeks ago. In some places the road was covered in deep snow. In one of these snow mounds , the chain got stuck and before I had time to unclip I fell down in the usual stupid slow motion way – ouch!!

We eventually reached the top and after a short brake we started to descend – we took a different route which was mostly single-track. What a fantastic experience – and this is what Mountain Biking is all about – pure fun. The descends now seemed a lot easier than ever before, the main reason being the fact that I felt very strong and entered the single track nice and rested. I was ecstatic – I had forgotten the feeling of descending quickly down single track and now I was enjoying every single moment of it.

We reached the end – I was covered in mud from top to bottom but I was a very happy man. I had missed my mountain bike.

(Before and after - unfortunatelly the full face helmet hides my big grin in the 'after' pic - photo taken by AiginaMBK)


  • Costas' what does Mrs Constantinou say about this bloody mess. Do you have a personal washing machine and the nessecary sterlizing chamber at home?



    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:57 PM  

  • I saw you today (4/3/06) playing in the deep water holes in the ex-King trails and I said this is the KDK I know.
    Hopefully the hot Spanish roadie "girl" wasn't hot enough to seduce you and steal your heart from the American dirty "girl" you have.

    Your friend
    Mud and mountain forever

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:26 AM  

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