Traharn Travels – ‘Rest Day’

IMG_2115

Rest Days are just as important as training days, you need to give your body the time it needs to recover and rebuild, if not, your muscles never get the opportunity to fully recover, making them weaker and weaker.

Now there are lots of different ways to have a “rest day”,  so long as the muscles needing the recovery get to rest, then it doesn’t have to be the typical ‘couch potato’ day.

Mike and I went to Washington at the weekend and decided to hike up a super cool mountain, with 4000 feet of elevation… but what we tend to do on the way back down is, RUN! It’s so much fun, I’ve been running for years and my knees are well accustomed to downhill running, but I haven’t descended that much, that quickly in a long time! So, as you may have guessed we couldn’t walk straight for the next few days. I constantly looked like John Wayne or like I’d poohed myself… I hadn’t, I swear.

However, the more you sit still, the stiffer and more ridiculous you become… Therefore, we decided the best thing to do was keep our legs moving, get out into the gorgeous sunshine and take our DiamondBack Haanjo Cyclocross/road bikes to Rossland’s local lake, Nancy Green.

Although I’m obviously still using my quads, the focus is on a different part of them and the pressure is much easier to manage.

So off we went for a 60kilometre pedal to Nancy Green Lake…

Advertisements

Spring in to Summer

Home sweet home.

I grew up in a beautiful, quaint, typical English village, deep in the hills of Shropshire, the gateway to the mountains of North Wales. I’ve always appreciated where I was brought up, but the appreciation bumped up a fair few notches over the last 7 years, as I started running and mountain biking, I truly saw every aspect this tiny village, full of heart and soul had to offer.

My passion for biking started like an explosion.  Thanks to encouragement from my brother, my life changed dramatically. For years I was trapped in an abusive relationship, constantly walking on eggshells fearing for my life. Mountain biking gave me the strength I’d lacked for years. With each new day, each pedal stroke, every crash, fall, bruise, came with another smile; until I finally saw myself stepping out of my own shadows. Before I knew it, I was strong enough to break through the barrier I’d been trapped behind for years, and it’s been full speed ahead ever since.

This is my story..

There was a lot of lost time to make up for, life’s goal had one purpose, be happy, love and be loved. The mountains, family and friends came first; I’d been riding a downhill mountain bike for one week, and felt it was time to enter my first race… I instantly became hooked. Within a year I ranked number one in the UK in the 18-30’s UCI downhill category, and moved into the elite category. My life was unrecognisable from my previous self, I was me again. That’s when I took off to New Zealand, skipping a British winter to have a Southern Hemisphere summer, full of mountains, bikes, sun and fun.

I found my home away from home, riding the bike park every day, slotting in to the Queenstown biking community. New Zealand was incredible, I’d drastically improved on the bike after just a few weeks, and there was no doubt about who I was, or what I was about. During my last 2 months in NZ I happened to meet a nice Canadian boy called Mike… The rest is history.

Mike and I continued seeing each other, carrying on with the peaks and valleys of a long distance relationship for 4 years; it was a combination of the most romantic love story and a god damn emotional rollercoaster. At times we would spend up to 5 months with the Ocean between us, until I made the move to live in Canada. I moved there in October 2016 and had not only the first winter for years but the longest winter ever. We lived in Revelstoke, the gateway to the Rocky Mountains, and when the snow was good, the place was insane, powder and tree skiing for days; I was a beginner skier but picked it up fairly quickly and loved how similar it felt to biking.

Then spring hit town… After growing up in the country hill side of Britain, whenever I think of Spring; I think of lambs, bluebells, bright yellow fields, lighter days, sunshine with the smell of flowers and freshly cut grass. However, Revelstoke had another idea for spring; the only thing blossoming was all the dog poop that hadn’t been picked up over winter, the snow was starting to melt, good ski days were over, still too much snow for biking, lots of rain, and lots of poop. My job was seasonal and finished in April, so I got a ticket back to the UK for a couple of months.

I know us Brits are renowned for complaining about the weather, but I’ve never been more appreciative of the blossoming weather the UK offers. I feel lucky to be torn between two beautiful countries, Canada has extreme seasons, awesome skiing and looks magical over Christmas, and in Britain we have mild seasons, which never stop you getting out on your bike.

As soon as I arrived home it was exactly what I imagined, early wakeup call from the singing birds, sun was up till 9pm, biking trails were in prime conditions, coated with beautiful bluebells, baby lambs everywhere, every other field was full of bright yellow flowers. I was happy to be home, so decided to capture the beauty of everything I love about a proper British Spring. With my new DiamondBack Haanjo Carbon Cyclocross Bike, which allowed me to travel on and off road capturing as many aspects of spring as possible.

So here it is, a short and sweet edit showing my favourite parts of a British spring.

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

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.

FullSizeRender 19

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.

Unknown

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! – Part Four

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

fullsizeoutput_13

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

p5pb14536910

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.

p5pb14536909

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.

p5pb14536913p5pb14536915p5pb14536900

 

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.

160818_MJH_16-CRWX_0102

END OF PART FOUR

Imagery – Mikehopkins.com / @mikejhopkins

My top 5 international riding spots

Thinking about it it’s actually pretty hard picking my top 5 riding spots, I’ve been fortunate enough to ride all over the UK, with killer spots in Shropshire, Wales, The Lakes, Scotland, Canada, New Zealand.. I could write a book of hot spots, but here is the short list:
Eastridge: Shrewsbury, England.
How can I not love my back garden, literally stepping out of my front door and into some of the most technical and raw terrained trails in the UK, however amazing an adventure I’ve had somewhere, I always love coming home.
Hopton: Shropshire, England.
This is where my first ever downhill race was, and the tracks are insanely fun, now with a full cross-country loop, where you can link in the downhill tracks, it would be rude not to.
Sunshine Coast: Canada.
I’ve been lucky enough to be guided around by the Coastal Crew boys, and not only do they have a sick bike park (Coast Gravity Park), they know all the hidden gems too, turning a logging road into the fastest playground I’ve ever ridden, riding flat out hopping over fallen trees and through Canada’s great Cedar.
Coronet Peak: Queenstown, New Zealand.
I’ve spent 3 summers in New Zealand and each year I explore the country finding a new favourite place.. But Coronet Peak still holds the ultimate trophy. With the QT crew constantly adding new tracks it’s only getting better, trails deaking off from every angle and being able to descend on some of the funnest tracks you’ll ever ride for a solid 30 minutes.
IMG_3154IMG_3384
Seven Summits: Red Mountain, Rossland, British Columbia, Canada.
35km of pure single track, taking you across Canada’s Alpine through 7 Mountains, and not one fire-road in sight! The climbs are beautiful, exciting, challenging, and then you get to the descents.. You earn every single rad descent. I feel like a kid again. The entire ride is exciting with constant stunning views of Canada, greeted by chipmunks, whilst warning off any bears; there’s also a continuous supply of wooden cabins, welcoming you in with a log fire and matches, take some sausages or cheese sarnies in foil and you’ve got yourself one epic Back-Country feast.