Sort Me Out

A winter in British Columbia, Canada, is pretty rad; I had an incredible experience with an awesome job and it allowed me to drastically improve my skiing skillz; however, there were a few factors I really missed. Apart from the obvious: my British friends, family and little doglets, it’s been the first time I haven’t been able to ride my bike or run.

Although I did lots of DH skiing and HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) classes, I really missed my cardio workouts. I’ve never felt so restricted and trapped by the weather. I know us Brits love a good moan, and for some reason it’s the weather that gets the brunt of our complaints, however, this winter really made me appreciated UK winters. Yes, it might be wet, muddy, dark, cold, but it never stops you going for a run or riding your bike, in-fact some of the funnest rides I’ve been on, was when the weather was terrible and you come home covered in mud, it’s the closest I get to feeling like a kid again.

I’m used to looking up at mountains, then going there, no questions asked. Please don’t get me wrong, Revelstoke is fantastic, full of badass athletes and professional skiers, with everyone getting out there ski-touring, but I wasn’t a skilled enough skier to head out into the backcountry of the Rocky Mountains, you need to be a good skier who’s confident enough to handle avalanches… I am not!

With only a few short sessions cross country skiing and lots of Down-Hill skiing, It was the least active I’ve been in years, I put on weight, and although I did yoga every single morning, I’ve never been in so much non-injury related pain. Everything started to hurt, but why? Eventually I realized a connection; after having a trampoline accident 15 years ago, I always suffered with back pains, until I started running and biking regularly, then my back pain finally diminished. Stop me doing my regular endurance activities, throw me into a cold Canadian winter… I’m seizing up.

It’s now spring and I’m back home visiting the UK, first things first… I’m booking an appointment with Ben Calder at The Centre for Integral Health in Shrewsbury. I worked with Ben a lot last year and I had the pleasure to experience the effects of Bowen Technique. As a masseuse, I’m used to being very hands on, the deeper the massage, the better I feel, but Bowen Technique is completely different, it uses very subtle movements to reset the fascia in the muscle. I didn’t think I had any problem areas when I went to Ben, at first, I didn’t notice much difference… But as I continued going to Ben, the results were outstanding!

You know that tired feeling in your legs when you first start running or biking, it always takes a few minutes to warm up before your legs stop feeling so heavy… I no longer had that, my legs were full of energy and ready to go, it didn’t matter how much I’d done during the week, after seeing Ben regularly my legs were ready to go 24/7. I noticed I recovered from races a lot quicker; on average, races I competed in were 3-5 days long, 2-3 days practicing with 2-3 days racing. Each day I’d be riding for 7 hours, completing daily loops of 50K, sometimes more, after maintaining this for nearly a week I usually come home feeling hung over, tired and can’t even think about biking for a few days, I just eat copious amounts of food and sleep, but after seeing Ben my recovery time dropped substantially; I’d have one rest day then I’d be back to it, without any tired legs. I also noticed something else; I do a lot of running and when I push myself, it’s the same muscles that ache the next few days, but on one particular day, I entered a Park Run, ran my usual race, pushed myself like I usually do, not only did I get my PB for Shrewsburys course, completing in under 21 minutes, the next day muscles were hurting that I’ve never felt before. I’ve run Mountain Marathons and lots of 5-15mile Mountain races (fell runs) and not once have these muscles hurt. Ben enlightened me, my body was finally working efficiently, muscles have stopped compensating allowing the muscles I truly need to do there job, I was amazed and extremely excited.

Needless to say, I’ve really missed my regular appointments with Ben, I walked into Ben’s clinic feeling a wreck, he tested my muscles to see which ones were/weren’t working properly; interestingly he found my glutes and hamstrings were weak, as he started the treatment he found they weren’t firing properly and reset them. I’m looking forward to seeing how they test next time. I’ve struggled with my lower back and hips this winter, but, as soon as I stood up after the treatment, I instantly felt better, I was no longer seized up, I could’ve cried… It’s good to be home.

I’m finally able to train every day; road riding, running and mountain biking, I feel 100% better physically and mentally. Seeing Ben is the final piece to the puzzle, stay tuned to find out what he helps with next week.

Thank you Ben

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Rainy Revy

The end of the ski season is finally here… It’s done nothing but rain for weeks in Revelstoke. Skiing’s dying down, too much snow for biking, all that seems to be blossoming, is all the dog poop that’s remerging after hiding under the snow for months!

On a plus side … My Bikes arrived from Diamond Back, YAY! I have never been so excited to get riding again, back in the UK you can ride all year round, I really missed that this winter, but now I am beyond stoked for getting on my new bikes and for my awesome new sponsor. I started riding to and from work on my shiny new carbon Cyclocross bike – for myself it’s perfect for training and road riding. So with the rain pouring, off I went to work on my beautiful bike, the weather was miserable but I was so happy. Even Mike started borrowing it and after his first ever road ride, he ordered himself one from Diamond Back.

Click here → Diamond Back Haanjo Carbon

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We had a couple of days where we road together with our cool new bikes before we decided to completely check out of Revelstoke and migrate south! We were throwing around a few ideas of where to go, we were close to booking a last minute road riding trip to Cuba, but it had been a long winter for both of us so we decided to go on our first “relaxing” holiday!! Where better to go than Sayulita, Mexico. I’d never been to Mexico but Mike had visited Sayulita with one of his sponsors a few years back and couldn’t wait to take me…

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I finally moved to Canada end of October, the exact same time Mike was given the go ahead for Dream Ride 2.0

I was so happy for him, he got to do what he loved again, I just didn’t really see him for months… Well I got to “see” him, but his mind was definitely else where, even when my parents came for Christmas he was in his own little world, acting like a zombie in ours. Diamond Back wanted the edit to be done by mid March, so there was no way round it, Mike needed to do a Mountain Bike edit over winter, which meant he had to go somewhere else to film it; which of course is fine, just comes hand in hand with more planning, more work, more money. He didn’t really see the point of sharing all these tasks or thoughts or worries with me. keeping it to himself, but with a little encouragment he gradually started letting me in, soon realizing I could help him, I had extremely small jobs, but it was one less thing for Mike to think about. I helped work out the budget and how much he’d have for certain areas, I booked all the accommodation through Hawaii and Canada, in fact, for a while the only time I got to talk to Mike while he was in Hawaii was to discuss where he wanted to stay. Finally we were working as it team, and it brought us closer together.

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It made me so happy to be able to help him, watching the stress lessen,  and be by his side while he created another masterpiece.

He spent over a month in Hawaii and 3 weeks filming in British Columbia and Alberta, Canada.

 

He had a vision throughout and he didn’t eat or sleep till he was happy with what the crew had. He hand-picked his team of creative genius’s, they all work incredibly well together, and it was amazing to see the respect they had for each other, at no point did the standards drop, they knew what they were there for, they worked together to make sure the picture in Mikes head came to life.

Dream Ride 2.0

Dream Ride – 2016

Heli-Skiing … Whaaaaat

Over the season I worked At Eagle Pass Heli Ski lodge as the Masseuse, and part of my roll was to instruct the 6am stretch class with the guests. IMG_4898From day one I loved the job, Mike had to take off to Hawaii for a month to film Dream Ride 2; turns out we’ll have a handful of long distance episodes for a few years to come. However, it was great timing, I had my new job to adapt to and keep me occupied.

Getting up at 5am took about a week to get used to, one thing I continued to struggle with was the split shifts; some nights I’d be giving massages until 11pm, getting to bed past midnight, then, up again at 5am for stretch class. For awhile midday naps became essential, which didn’t leave as much time for skiing as I’d hoped. The staff were great, and within a few days I already had a nickname, apparently the chefs had misheard my name as Tron;

images I’d told them a little bit about my family and they just assumped my parents were some young hippie 80’s kids who called their first child Tron… Not far off haha!! I swiftly claimed the “Mega Tron” status, always followed by the classic super hero air punch.

 

I wasn’t even one week into work and I got to go heli-skiing. I’d just said bye to all the guests and their guide came running back in. “There’s a free spot, who can take it?”

He asked the chefs, they hadn’t done their training yet, they asked house keeping, she didn’t have her stuff… Finally they turned and asked me.

“Have you done your training?

I nodded

“Have you got your gear?”

A second nod

“Can you go?… ”

A third and final nod came shaking out, the staff were so stoked for me, leaping up rushing me to my things… “GO MEGA TRON!”

Before I knew it I was in my gear sitting in a helicopter … what just happened, I was still shaking, the adrenal came over me in a flash.

It was an insane day of skiing, luckily one of the guests was my level of skiing, so we stuck together. I had the biggest smile and before I knew it I’d accumulated another nickname; Giggles. As soon as we met up with the other heli group for lunch, my group couldn’t wait to tell them how funny I was: “whatever she does she has the biggest smile, she giggles non stop, even with every crash all you can hear is her giggling, we just started listening out for the giggles to know where she was.”

I had no idea how much I’d been giggling, and I definitely didn’t realize they could all hear me. It was an insane experience and I couldn’t have gone with a better group of guests.

After that experience I was on a mission to improve my skiing ability, if I had another chance I wanted to make sure I was stronger and less likely to hold the guests back. However, for an entire month I went nearly every day skiing at Revelstoke Mountain Resort, but I just got worse and worse and worse. Mike was still in Hawaii, my new ski friends were all boarders so they couldn’t help me. I had zero control, I was crashing on the easiest of things, I’d be cruising down a groomer until … POW!! Right out of the blue I was tumbling down the hill like a washing machine full of shoes… you get me, zero grace, zero coolness. Until this point I’d started to find groomers boring, constantly darting off the tracks and into the trees, it felt so similar to biking: berms, rollers, jumps, ducking through trees – it was biking! Something was up, I couldn’t get down a groomer let alone through the trees. I was starting to dislike skiing, it made me anxious and I started avoiding it, maybe it just wasn’t my jam, I gave it my best shot though.

 

Finally Mike came home and we went skiing, I told him about the issues I was having, something was up, just no idea what. It reminded me of when I first started biking, I knew something was wrong but no idea where the problem was coming from or how to fix it, half the time I’d be horrified to find out my wheel was about to fall off. Now I’m way more in tune with my bike, and if I can’t fix it, I at least know where it stems from. Not with skiing though, even though it seems much simpler… I mean what is there to go wrong? Well I quickly learnt that for an entire month I’d been strapping up my boots the wrong way, such a subtle tweak but made THE WORLD of difference! I instantly felt more controlled, in the biking world it would’ve felt like all my bolts were loose, finally everything is tightened up and ready to go. I couldn’t ski for long that day, it was the first time all season I’d been able to strap my boots up, which means one thing… cramp, lots of cramp.

Now I know I don’t completely suck at skiing I had my zest back. Combined with work and HIIT classes at the gym I was pretty happy with the program I had going on.

Hellooo Canada…

So here we are, Mike and I met in New Zealand nearly 4 years ago, we battled through the highs and lows of a long distance relationship and now we were finally on the same continent.

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Things continued as usual, same old busy schedule, we were all over the map, staying in Vancouver, then to Revelstoke, then to Jasper, back to Revelstoke, up to Banff film festival and back to Revelstoke… all in less than a week!! Mikes film, Dream Ride was in the World Tour of the Banff Film Festival, so there we were representing Diamond Back and Dreamride! I was so proud of Mike, I’d seen how hard he worked putting this together, it was incredible to see his vision become reality and to see the video getting the reception it so rightly deserved.

DreamRide from Juicy Studios on Vimeo.

Once November hit, Revelstoke was pretty miserable, the sun seemed to set behind the Rocky Mountains by 2pm, it rained, and rained… and rained. I didn’t have a bike, and after injuring my back last year running was too painful. Whilst all the clued in locals left Revelstoke for most of November, Mike and I stuck it out. I had a job lined up but it didn’t start until January… It was admin time anyway, September – December is crunch time for locking in deals with sponsors for 2017, my proposal was dialled, a solid plan for 2017 was put into place, time to sell it like a boss.

I was in a great and conflicting spot, with 3 awesome offers on the table from different frame companies, leaving me torn, each sponsor meant something different to me with all reasons as good as the next. Finally I made the decision and signed the contract, becoming a rider for Diamond Back Bikes.

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From then on things started picking up, the snow seemed to arrive over night, I’d only done a handful of ski holidays before, so this winter was all about getting better at skiing.

I’d been in Canada for at nearly 2 months, which can only mean it’s time for my parents to visit; they’d actually booked their flights to come for Christmas before I’d booked my flight to move here in October #classic. Mike and I showed them around Revelstoke, I didn’t have the place figured out yet, but wanted them to see where I lived. I took dad skiing, we were like two kids at Christmas, Dad was the best ski buddy ever. Up for anything, smiled the entire time, and every crash (there were many) he’d jump/wiggle back up and kept on bombing down. Dad actually managed to get himself out of a lot crashes, just as we thought, for sure, he was going down, he stayed strong and rode it out. Which ended in nothing but nucks and cheers.

Mum wasn’t really into the idea of downhill skiing, so we went on an adventure to find a waterfall… turned out we were the only ones to make the trek since the snow fall, which increased the effort levels somewhat, even with snowshoes, but she did great and it was awesome to do with my parents.

Mike, my parents and I all headed to Rossland (Mike’s home town) just in time for Christmas. The parents met the parents… it was finally official. Of course, they all got on, making it a pretty awesome Christmas.

A vision I’ll never forget is taking Mum and Dad cross-country skiing. If Mum’s on anything other than her own 2 feet, she feels rather unstable, (after having a horrible road cycling crash a few years ago and knocking her teeth out, I can see where the issues stem from). However, she did great on the xc climb, she started to relax and things were looking promising for the way back down.

I wanted them to get the full Canadian experience, so we stopped off at a small little cabin on the side of the tracks, got the fire roaring and stuck some smokies in it.

On the way back down, Mum instantly became nervous, as she started picking up speed she panicked, not knowing a better solution, she forced herself to crash. She ripped off her skis in a huff and quickly had to start chasing after them as the bombed perfectly down the hill, even making the turn ahead.

We found a solution for Mum…

… She took her skis for a walk back to the car, and couldn’t have been happier.

I was sad to see my parents go home, but a couple of days after they left I started my job.

End of Part ONE

Summer Rush … Making it Count! – Final

fullsizeoutput_14Not even home for a week and there was another race, the last race of the season, the last race before I pack up and leave for Canada. At the time we didn’t know it, but it was also the last ever round of the British Enduro Series, at Innerliethen, Scotland. I thought I’d allowed myself to recover from my head injury, I didn’t feel great during practice, but I just put it down to needing to warm up on the bike, as I rode up to my first race run I started to see spots, felt lightheaded and nauseas … I hadn’t recovered. Game over, again. So once again I took the opportunity to spend time with Joel and I rode with him on his stage transitions. Joel did his usual finish on the podium, then we booked it home.

The next day the countdown really began, Mike arrived in Heathrow from Canada, I excitedly booted along the motorway, until … Pfffft, BANG, rattle, Smoke… lots of black smoke. Recorded death of Blueberry (aka, shitty bus) – Monday 10th October 2016, 10:00am. Mike sat waiting for me in the airport, while I posted up on the side of the motorway waiting for AA recovery. Just when I thought I couldn’t be busier, I had less than 2 weeks to plan my leaving/birthday party, fit in all my clients (for my mobile hairdressing, massage and beauty business) one last time, get ready to move to Canada, and get ready for my brother’s wedding!   All without my little blue van.

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Canadian Themed leaving party

^Photos thanks to – Dan Wyre Photography^

We pulled it off, Joel and Corinna had a beautiful small wedding the day before I left, making for an extremely emotional day with 52 of our family members being there on Joel and Corinnas special day, and saying bye to me and Mike.

It’s been a jam packed year, truly making the most of the British summer, with my friends, family and little pooches. Stay tuned to hear how things shape up in British Columbia, Canada.

THE END

Summer Rush … Making it Count! – Part Five

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Me, my Uncle Luke and Dad, racing in Eastridge

There wasn’t time for any catching up when I got home, back just in time to compete in the Welsh Gravity Enduro, in Eastridge… my back garden.

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Before I’d unpacked from Canada, it was time to load up the van and head back to Europe. I spent the next three weeks on the road, competing in the final two rounds of the EWS (Enduro World Series) and a regional french race, run by 1001 Sentiers Enduro, which I ended up winning.

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Joel and I living out the back of the van

My brother, Joel, and I headed to Valberg-Guillaume together, It was an epic week of riding and racing in another quaint town in the French Alps.

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After the race I dropped Joel off at the airport so he could get back to his extremely new family, he had a 10 week old baby, 2 hyper dogs and a very patient newly proposed to Fiancé waiting for him in their construction site home.

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Joel and my beautiful little Niece

I spent just over a week on my own in the south of France, I camped, slept in the van, entered random races, won them; my favourite memory was waking up at 6am, sliding the van doors open, and lying there watching the ever changing colours of the backlit mountains as the sun rose into the sky.

After a week of nothing but bliss, alone on a mountain top, with nothing but my bike and the shining sun, I headed back to the rush of the city where I picked up Joel and our Friend Dan from the airport. The three of us cramped into the questionably three seater van (myself being the only one who could really fit in the middle seat) and headed straight to Finale Ligure, Italy, for the final round of the EWS. We met up with our friends Fay and Lee, who hooked us up with a local guy doing shuttles for practice, everyone was on their own program and if you didn’t sort out anything… tough luck! We were very lucky that Fay had done this before and had everything dialled, Joel and I aren’t known for our planning and organisation skills… we have much more of a “wing it and sing it” kind of style, which seems to work, mostly because we have some very organized friends who watch over us like angels (thanks buds).

We were living the dream in Italy; dry, long, technical, fast tracks, guided by a local, he even booked us in to a local restaurant for lunch, it was tucked away in the middle of the mountain, disguised as a locals home… in-fact, I’m pretty sure it couldn’t of been any more of a stereotypical Italian family’s home, a family run restaurant literally from their home, making their own wine, jam, olive oil, pesto, this place was magic. We sat in the patio area eating a 5 course lunch, whilst picking at the juicy grapes hanging over our heads.

Unfortunately things took a turn for the worst, I crashed during practice, it didn’t seem like it was a bad crash, I’ve definitely had worse. I landed straight on my head from a 5ft drop with speed, (suppose it’s not ideal) but I just brushed off the dust and carried on riding, it wasn’t until a few hours later I realised I was loosing my vision. I’ve had concussions before and always knew they were coming, but this one seemed to come from nowhere, as my vision narrowed, I started to feel nauseous with a splitting headache. I rested and drank a boat load of water, I really hoped I’d be ok to ride the following day, I was having so much fun riding with my brother and our friends, I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel.

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The realization I can’t ride, but still hoping there’s a chance.

However, I woke up with the headache and nausea still lingering, the thought of crashing again and hitting my head just wasn’t worth it, Joel then told me he wouldn’t of let me ride anyway, he just hoped I’d figure it out on my own. Head injuries are not something to chance! So for the rest of the trip I became chef cheerleader; my parents were due to arrive, having planned their holiday around this race, which turned me into their guide, we got hold of some bikes and managed to follow Joel in the race by riding to starts and finishes of select stages.

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I suppose that’s the silver lining, I couldn’t race, but got to hang out with my parents and show them parts of the race they would never have been able to see without me. On Sunday morning I left early with Joel as he started the two hour climb to stage one of day two, Mum and Dad followed proudly in the car, Dad even got inspired and ran with us for the last few miles.

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Me and Mum

As soon as Joel finished the race we took our parents to our favourite Italian restaurant for Mums birthday, we were so happy to be able to show them this magical spot. The family showed us where they make their wine and even gifted us with some home made jam and wine for Mums birthday.

Joel and I headed back to the tent and got ready for an early exit, come 5am we were up and on the road, we had a long, cramped, hot and sticky drive back from Italy to Calais, Joel had a great time, but was now on a mission to get home.

END OF PART FIVE

Summer Rush … Making it Count! – Part Four

DiamondBack Team trip video – https://www.pinkbike.com/v/embed/467972/?colors=C80000“>Lake Tenquille Heli Trip

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Next stop, I jumped on the plane for a quick visit with Mike, and to check out the hustle and bustle of Crankworx, Whistler.

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Just as soon as we arrived, we left, I joined Mike and the Diamond Back crew on an epic trip to Tenquille Lake in Pemberton.

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All 5 of us got heli lifted to the top of the mountain, and made our way down the insanely beautiful Alpine trails, soon ducking into the trees until we found the lake in time for sunset.

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There was a huge cabin right by the lake… it was perfect, that’s where we posted up for the night. As soon as the sun made his appearance the following morning I dived into the lake, pretending to be mermaids with Micayla while Porter and Mike tried to fish. After dancing ourselves dry, we carried on riding to the bottom before heading back to the chaos of Crankworx. Two weeks flew by and it was already time to head home.

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END OF PART FOUR

Imagery – Mikehopkins.com / @mikejhopkins