The Search for Back Country

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After traveling around the world, I’ve discovered a lot of opinions on England, with some of the most common conversations go like this:

Example One

New buddy: “Oh, you’re from England, I’ve been there, where about’s are you from?”
Me: “Shropshire” followed by blank pause, “West midlands… near Wales…”
New buddy: “So, north of London?”

Example Two

New buddy: “You ride mountain bikes? Did you start that out here in Canada, there’s nowhere to ride in England, it’s all flat isn’t it?”

 

So, as you can imagine, I had a little bit of educating to do: “Yeeeah, London is as pretty south as you can go”… “There are so many incredible places to ride all across the Britain, some of the best mountain bike racers in the world come from my home town, Shrewsbury.”

Most people are always so surprised, their image of Britain is it’s: flat, busy, overcrowded, wet, grey with traffic-jams, football hooligans and bad teeth;

It has been my absolute pleasure in showing people otherwise. The first person I really got to show Britain’s beauty to, was my Canadian boyfriend, Mike Hopkins, his opinion wasn’t too dis-similar to others. Mike was shocked at how similar my home village, Snailbeach, was to his home town Rossland. Rossland is basically Snailbeach on steroids, an old mining town, on top of the hill, incredible riding trails straight out the front door, even going down the hill to the next village is the same, down the road to the factory town, with a reputation of being a little bit grubbier. People could think I’m literally talking about either one; a tiny, quaint english village on top of the hill, called Snailbeach, or, a quaint Canadian mountain town, called Rossland.

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It didn’t take Mike long to fall in love with my home village, beautiful scenery, awesome riding, with cool old buildings full of history… The deeper into the North Wales mountains we went the more Mike’s mind was blown, mesmerised by the perfectly built ancient stone walls guarding the tiny narrow roads for miles and miles.

Mikes visited a handful of times, but this time I wanted to take him to The Lake District in North England. This place is outstanding, I also have way more exploring of my own to do up there, but last year, during a race (The Three Peaks Yacht Race), I came across a beautiful cottage, tucked away in the middle of the tillest mountains in England. Since then I vowed to come back with Mike and stay in this little cottage; which turned out to be the most remote hostel in Great Britain, only accessable by foot, with the closest road nearly 10 kilometers away.

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I wanted to film our journey to show people that England has so much more to offer, we have back-country too and it’s beautiful.

So sit back and enjoy the video we put together, I mean it wouldn’t be a proper British trip without a little bit of rain… however, rain and shine, this place is specatular!

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Summer Rush … Making it Count! – Part Two

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The EWS in Ireland was incredible, and to be greeted with Irelands long lost friend, the sun, was a treat. I have never competed in such a positive race; it was a tough day on the bike, 7 different stages, 7 repetitive climbs; with each stage hosting a burly feature, there was no time for switching off. All stages were fun with challenging monster rock gardens, but stage 6 was a personal favourite: flat out, fun, steep and tech. The Irish crowds were beyond positive, only shouting out encouraging heckles; ‘Keep ‘er lit’ stayed ringing in my ears throughout the weekend.

Another wild opportunity I couldn’t walk away from; resulted in sailing up the west coast of Britain competing as a runner in the Three Peaks Yacht Race.

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Record breaking sailor, Dee Caffari, asked if I’d join her team of 5. Despite never stepping foot on a yacht before, yet alone any kind of sailing, there was no chance I’d be turning down an opportunity like that; with 3 months till the race, the bike season training program promptly switched to a heavy programme of running.

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Running in the Lake District – Photo Credit Mike Hopkins

The ‘Three Peaks Yacht Race’ was the hardest race I’ve ever done, taking 4.5 days to complete, involving: 389 miles of sailing, 57 miles of mountain running, 40 miles of cycling, 26 miles of rowing, 4 mountains, 5 summits, 14,500ft ascending, wobbly sea legs, vomit, diarrhoea, sleepless nights, 4 sunsets, 4 sunrises and one epic experience!  I’m a strong advocate for the quote “It doesn’t have to be fun, to be fun.” However, this race was next level; pushing through the crippling stomach cramps whilst running down Scafell Pike, still only half way through the 9 hour excursion, and terrified to consume any form of energy (I’d also ran out of water). Crawling my way up the final mountain, I wished I would just pass out, feeling that was the only way the pain would end. My head was running wild, all the people who’d supported me kept popping up amongst the hallucinations and they honestly got me through, I couldn’t let them down. Once I got to the bike, the 20 miles back to the yacht seemed like nothing, another burst of energy kicked in and I was away, as we reached Whitehaven, finishing the 54 miles in 9 hours 13 minutes, I had the biggest smile and was stoked to do it all over again… Idiot!

Find out more about this race here … 3 Peaks Yacht Race..

END PART TWO