Kinesiology… Magic

I am LOVING Spring!!!!! I’m back visiting the UK after a loooong winter in Canada, and what a beautiful time to come home.

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After visiting Ben Calder at the Centre for Integral Health last week, I felt much better, I really looked forward to visiting Ben all winter.

The first thing I’d noticed after our Bowen session, was my lower back pain had decreased, still there but just lingering with certain movements rather than constantly. That’s one thing I’ve noticed with the Bowen Technique, the movements are subtle, but extremely effective; the more time you give it, the more benefits you start to notice.

This week, I wasn’t sure what to focus on with Ben, there seemed to be many areas he could help with … but which ones first, what was more important? Ben decided he was going to find out what my body needed, seeing as I didn’t have a clue. Now this is what I find fascinating: I lie there silently while Ben hold’s up my arm, muttering all sorts of questions and solutions that I don’t really understand, but as Ben asks certain questions my body reacts giving him the answer he needs. It’s like watching magic, how can my body answer something that I don’t even understand. It’s just proof that what we do, see, say, smell, touch, is a tiny percentage of what’s actually going on in our bodies and mind.

Baz Luhrman say’s it well…

“Enjoy your body, use it every way you can, don’t be afraid of it, or what other people think of it… It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.”

Our bodies really are the greatest tools we’ll ever own, if we treat it well, it will look after us. Kinesiology is a fascinating and bizarrely accurate way of finding out what our bodies truly need. More often than not we end up giving our bodies something because it’s healthy and society says that’s what we should do, but every single person is different, and a diet/lifestyle suitable for one person isn’t necessarily best for another.

In my first Kinesiology session with Ben last year, I discovered I was a Red Body Type. There are just 3 body types which every single one of us fit in to, this doesn’t change from the day you’re born, the more sessions you have, the deeper the Kinesiologist will go with your personal requirements, but once you know you’re body type you can instantly start improving the quality of your life.  Within minutes Ben could tell me which sleep patterns suit me, when I should eat, what I should eat, what I shouldn’t eat, how much I should eat. Once we’re aware of what our bodies need, we can start functioning at our best. Although I technically had a very healthy diet, my body was only receiving 40% of the nutrients from the food I ate, there were certain foods restricting the abstraction of nutrients. I discovered my body works best on a low carb, high protein and moderate fat diet, I need breakfast first thing in the morning, an early nights sleep and an early wake up, I should be avoiding wheat and gluten and surprisingly, broccoli.

I’ve always thought I was more of a night Owl, regularly falling asleep after midnight, but on those occasions where I’d gone to sleep around 10pm, the following day would be far more productive and less of an effort. I feel happier within myself if I have an early morning with a good nights sleep; I had already started cutting back on wheat and carbs as I’d discovered they made me feel bloated and lethargic, but I never really liked eating breakfast too early.

When Ben told me all of the basic traits along with my body type, it instantly made sense; I became stricter with cutting out gluten, my sleep patterns and breakfast times. Within a week I had far more energy, I no longer felt sleepy throughout the day and the bloated feeling had gone. I was fascinated by the entire kinesiology process and raved about it to anyone and everyone who would listen.

My mum was very interested, and like myself, there were no specific issues she went in to fix, she was just curious. She was rather devastated to discover her body type should avoid all the night shade foods… Chilis, peppers, cheese, tomatoes, potatoes, aubergines etc. These were Mums absolute favourite foods, but, she gave it a go, for 6 weeks she did what was advised, if there were no changes, she’d just go back to eating her favourite foods.

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However, after a couple of weeks, the difference was incredible. None of us knew, but mum had been suffering with chronic joint pain, she’d learnt to live with it and suffered in silence for years. She’d had an operation on her Achilles tendon years ago and we knew the op didn’t work, which meant she had to stretch every morning before she could walk, but all throughout the day she was stiff and uncomfortable. Every night she’d call for my Dad to pull her off the sofa; she’s in her mid 40’s, full of life and a bit of a drama queen, so we just put it to Mum being a bit dramatic, lazy, and tired. However, after a few weeks on her new diet, she started jumping off the sofa to go to bed. Me and Dad just looked at each other wondering what was happening, then Mum told us how she’d been suffering with constant joint pain and it had now gone.

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So… back to my most recent session with Ben, he asked my body what it needed, and after carrying out a handful of tests he found an issue with my Neural repair, which requires B5 to correct itself. He also preformed a reset procedure to help certain hormones and biochemicals to function better.

I was sent home with instructions on where to find the B5 vitamins I needed, and our next appointment was in the diary.

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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

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

This is my story..

Everyone has their own story, and here is mine.

It’s a story I’ve desperately wanted to tell for a while, but it’s also one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

I’ve realised as a coping mechanism I’ve blocked out a lot of what happened, as it’s too painful to think about, but I’ll share what I can, because I want to help people who are in a similar situation, to see the light and seek help.

Growing up I was always happy, calm, sensitive and caring towards everyone and everything. During my first long term relationship, which started at the age of 17, the girl everyone knew and loved slowly faded away.

I had become a victim of domestic abuse. I’ve always seen the best in people and even when it’s near impossible to see, I seek for it and do my best to help them. I guess this is why I initially stayed with ex, (throughout this story he will simply be referred to as ‘ex’) before I knew it he’d whittled me down with constant and harsh emotional abuse.

Ex put me down at any opportunity he could, and the more people to hear it the better. He would call me, fat, ugly, mock my job, disrespect my family and remind me how lucky I am to have him, no one else would have, or put up with me, no one else could ever love me like he did.

At first I laughed off the remarks, but being so constant and never cushioned with a compliment it slowly began to tear me apart. I guess the first sign of any physical abuse was in the early stages of the relationship, ex liked to play ‘games’, one of which was where he’d bite me mainly on my arms, so hard that more often than not it drew blood, each bite mark left huge bruises.. and I don’t bruise easily. He’d be laughing hysterically as the tears rolled down my cheeks, his mood would suddenly change and he’d get annoyed with me for being so miserable and not having fun.

Another ‘fun’ game was him pinning me down on the bed, and while hysterically laughing he spat on me watching me try and avoid the spit. He was a strong guy and no matter how hard I tried to free from his tight grip I couldn’t, again he’d only stop when he got bored and just have a go at me for being so miserable, and tell me to lighten up. I remember going to college and trying to hide the bruises, my friends questioned it and I ended up getting good at hiding the truth and almost convincing myself that it was all a bit of fun.

As the years passed, I became more and more of a shadow to the girl everyone knew. He controlled everything I did, I had to ring him immediately every time I arrived somewhere, I had to answer the phone quickly whenever he called, I stopped running, he didn’t like my family and tried to turn my friends against me. He told my best friend, (who is also my Aunty but only 1 year older than me, so we were raised like sisters) things I’d apparently said about her, and then tell me she’d bitched about me. I was crushed by what she’d (apparently) said, but we never confronted each other which kept his secret powerful, and for a while for the first time in our lives it put a barrier between us.

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I was never allowed to visit my friends at Uni, I know you might think.. “Of course you’re allowed, just do what you want.” it wasn’t that easy, and definitely not worth the verbal abuse, jealously and accusations, you never know how you’ll react when put in that situation.. and you certainly don’t see it coming. He’d broken me down, I was constantly on edge, thinking first about everything I said or did.

After 3 years together numerous things happened and my family (who never liked him, but didn’t want to push me away) finally had to ban him from the house. Too scared to break up with him, we moved in together.

Up until this point I had no idea what he was capable of, I thought he had insecurity issues I could help him with, but things just got worse. It hadn’t even been a month in our new house and all of a sudden, completely out of the blue, he kicked off! He grabbed my orange juice from the side of the bed, poured it over my head, hit my head with the glass then smashed it against the wall causing it to shatter everywhere and splinter into the wall. He dragged me down the stairs by my hair, grabbed my jaw and didn’t let go for what felt like a lifetime. After that it’s all a blur..

Nothing was really said, I was in shock, and believed he was too. For the next few weeks my ears were black and blue, my jaw was in agony and I couldn’t open my mouth wide enough to eat properly. I tried hiding my ears and the dent and shattered glass marks on the wall. At the time I thought this was a one off reaction and it wouldn’t happen again. I didn’t, and still don’t know what triggered him. We lived together for 2 years and I lost count of how many times he physically abused me, I thought he was losing control and didn’t know what he was doing, but not once did he touch my face, so it remained a secret.

It’s only recently that I’ve learnt how controlled he actually was and how insanely predictable his behaviour was. People have literally written step by step books of a perpetrators actions, and they mirror his.

Alcohol was never to blame as he attacked me when he was stone cold sober too, it was just more inevitable it would happen when he’d had a few drinks. It was always my fault, he told me I ‘had it coming’ and sometimes he blamed my parents. I was constantly walking on eggshells trying not to set him off; I also tried to protect my family from him, conversations regularly got heated and I did everything I could to get them away from ex before he switched; on one occasion this really upset my Aunty, she wanted to go outside and reason with him, but I wouldn’t let her. She didn’t know that I stopped her because I was scared at what he might do, so she became annoyed with me too.

After living together for a year, and together for 4 years, I was severely unhappy, scared, trapped and alone, feeling unable to share my situation with anyone. He’d used my name to purchase several items on finance, found my emergency credit card and used it. With him being unemployed half the time I had to work as many jobs and hours I could to make sure they were paid off, and was still expected to give him money before entering the pub so it looked like he paid for everything. Countless times I’d come home from working 12+ hours, stuck inside while it had been a beautiful day. I’d come home to ex lying on the sofa, curtains drawn, 10’s of empty crisp packets surrounding him and multiple DVD cases everywhere, and then I’d be asked when I walked through the door at 8/9pm. “What’s for tea?”

I thought I was protecting everyone else by not telling them. Knowing I was unhappy I still convinced myself that I could live the rest of my life like this, not knowing a way out, feeling this was the best option for everyone. I’d stay with him to protect the ones I loved and keep them from ever knowing what was really happening. I felt extremely alone and for a while the only friend I felt I could be myself with, showing my sadness and vulnerability, was my little dog Chester.

However, there became a turning point in the relationship. Just after we moved house again ex had a good friend, we hung out a lot and I got on with him like a house on fire, with a lot in common. Ex always accused me of wanting to be with him which fuelled a lot of attacks but I never saw him that way. Ex would be suffocating me with a pillow whilst the friend was sleeping on the sofa in the next room, trying to get me to scream so the friend would come running in, but I never did, thinking I was protecting him. One day this friend told me how much he liked me and I didn’t deserve to be treated the way I was; all he’d seen was the emotional abuse and verbal attacks I constantly received. We became closer and for the first time in years someone other than my parents gave me compliments, it was a shock, and I didn’t really know how to handle it, but it opened my eyes to what I could have, what I should have. Someone who really loved me and made me feel special.

Meanwhile, my brother was living the dream in Canada. I’ve always been close to him and even though he’s younger than me I’ve always looked up to him. Growing up he always raced bikes, he got his first Motor Cross bike aged 4, and started racing at the age of 6. Aged 12 he started Downhill Mountain Biking too. After a few years competing in both, he had to choose just one.. So he went with Downhill Mountain Biking. I supported him with my family at every single race, he had his biking, I had my music, I played the piano, flugelhorn and any other instrument I attempted, but it never occurred to me that I could be any good at biking too.

Seeing the life my brother lived and how happy he was hit me. I could have that too, I deserved that. He is an inspiration to me. My brother knew I was unhappy, I hadn’t been the sister he knew for years now, he told me to borrow Dads bike and go out riding with his friends.

So that’s what I did. A complete novice, grabbing Dads hard tail with SPD pedals, I grabbed my skater shoes (not even a close match for the pedals) and off I went for my first ride with my new biking friend. I was awful, my butt hurt, I fell off lots, bashed my shins to pieces, but I smiled the whole time, I loved it! It gave me a sense of freedom and control, which I’d been deprived of for years.

 

Even though he was in Canada, I felt close to him when I rode, I wanted to make him proud. I wanted to make myself proud, I lost count of the amount of nights I lay awake staring at a picture of myself as a child, crying, saying sorry, and feeling devastated at how I’d let that baby down, by letting ex treat me the way he did.

 

Ex came out riding once and didn’t bother again, it was too much hard work for him (I also lost count of the amount of jobs he lost because he didn’t like being told what to do). He never took my biking seriously, just laughed at me; thankfully that attitude allowed me to be persistent on the bike, and I quickly started to improve. I started running again, but didn’t tell ex. I also saw my family every day, but tried to keep it from him. I paid the price with both physical and verbal attacks if I was caught.

 

I could feel myself getting stronger, more confident and determined. I loved being outside, I felt safe (even with the risk of crashing into a tree), I didn’t have to hide or prove anything, it was just me and great outdoors; the fresh air, working in harmony with the rawness of nature; It might sound cheesy and a bit hippie like, but being outside comforts me, whether it’s harsh winter conditions or the middle of summer, I am simply content. I loved the social life biking started to bring back in to my life, people of all ages, abilities, backgrounds become connected and form an amazing bond through biking. I started leading a double life and it slowly pieced me together again.

 

No one ever knew the extent of the abuse, everyone knew he had violent traits, but hadn’t even dreamt he was violent towards me. Mum worked with children and was delivering courses to professionals on how domestic abuse affects children. She’d come home with leaflets and get me to read them, ex showed all the signs of a perpetrator, she was warning me of the type of person he could become, having no idea he’d already become that person. At this point I knew I wanted out, I was just trying to gain the strength.

 

Ex knew I’d gotten stronger, every time he attacked me I didn’t care, I started to challenge him and he didn’t like that, he got worse but I still didn’t care. So he started to hit me where it hurt and threatened to hurt my family. He graphically described how he’d kill my dogs, burn the house down, or slit Dads throat in his sleep. This terrified me more than anything. I genuinely feared for their lives, I thought he was going to kill me countless times, so thought he wouldn’t think twice about killing my family who he didn’t like. This trapped me with him for a few more months.

 

In August 2009 my brother was home from Canada and was due to start Uni in a couple of weeks, I felt stronger when he was around, if I was going to break up with ex it needed to be now. I told him I didn’t want to be with him and he broke down, he said he’d change and to give him a chance. I knew he couldn’t change, the damage was done, I hadn’t loved him for a long time and needed out. I gave him a 2 week trial, and slowly started moving my stuff back to my parents, I knew it would be a messy break up and I’d leave with nothing and never want to go back. So I just waited for him to kick off. A couple of weeks later he kicked off, beat me up and started storming up the road to my parents threatening to strangle them in their sleep. I can’t remember how I diverted him from my parents, but the next day I broke up with him for good. We spoke for 6 hours until he stormed off to the pub, I saw that as a good opportunity to pack and leave. Then my best friend/Aunty called and asked if I was ok, she said ex had just left the pub and he didn’t seem right. I told her I’d broken up with him and started crying. She said she was coming down to see me right away. Just as I hung up ex came bursting through the door, he threw the suitcase across the room breaking it, then chased me in to the kitchen. I was backed in to the corner as he grabbed the kitchen knife holding it at my throat shouting at me. He kept shouting and through all of the attacks I’ve never seen him look so serious, so threatening.. So deadly! I thought that was it!

 

Then the door knocked! Literally saved by the bell, my best friend was here to make sure I was ok. It snapped ex out of what he was about to do. She didn’t know it, but she saved my life that day!

He stood there still holding the knife to my throat shouting at me in a whisper “why is she here?!”

I told him she’d come to make sure I was ok (emotionally, not in a million years did she think she’d be saving my life). He shouted at her to go away but she wouldn’t leave till she saw me. He ran out and slammed the living room door behind him, this door was broken and never closed, so he’d basically locked me in the kitchen.

 

He was trying to get rid of her but she refused to leave until she saw me, I was panicking like mad. She was stood at the front door, which meant behind her were 15-20 concrete steps, I feared for her life, picturing him pushing her down the stairs. I took a step back and charged into the living room door and it burst open (my shoulder hurt for the next few days, but it had to be done). My best friend ran past ex and into my arms. She held me so tightly, I was crying and whispered to her that I was ok and she should go. Once she was sure he’d calmed down she left.

 

Ex and I sat there in silence for a few hours, until I finally left. I believe that for the first time he actually lost control and scared himself. If my friend hadn’t knocked on the door I’d be dead, and he knew that.

I wish that was the end, but he stayed living in the flat which was half a mile from my parents surrounded by my friends and family. He continued to hang out with my family and friends; it was still a secret how he’d treated me, so now everyone was feeling sorry for him. He was trying to show people he’d changed so they’d report back to me and I’d give him another chance.

I hung out with my friends a lot less because he was there too. So I carried on biking and soon had a completely new life with friends that never even knew him. Biking and my biking friends became my new life, my escape, my light.

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For the next 6 months ex continued to stay in the flat we’d rented in my home village, stalking me, harassing me with minimum of 40 texts a day changing from ‘missing you’ texts to life threatening texts. He still had control over me, I was still trapped. He’d come up to my parents’ house in the middle of the night to try and see me through my window or to see if my car was there. I received phone calls in the middle of the night with just heavy breathing on the other end. When I finished a day of college I’d come to my car and find a bunch of flowers on the windscreen, I never felt safe, he could be anywhere. It had become his life to stalk me and get me back. He threatened to kill himself so I’d talk to him. I still told no one, so still wasn’t free.

 

Then one afternoon I was using the family laptop to explain to one of ex’s friends via Facebook messenger why I wasn’t going back to him, ex told me this friend was the only person who knew the truth. I soon clocked that he knew nothing at all; so I told him. I went in to detail of how he treated me and why I was never going back to him. I left for a walk and came back to find that mum had used the laptop, she’d seen the message, mum was crying her eyes out and dived into my arms. The secret was out! I sent him one text saying “Mum knows” and he left and never came back to the flat again.

 

From here it was another long roller coaster, but mum was my rock. She approached her colleagues for advice; they immediately referred my case to the police as they were so worried about my safety. I was still scared of him and didn’t know how he’d react if I got the police involved, and also didn’t think they’d believe me or be able to help, so wanted as few people to know as possible, especially him.

The police supported me without him ever knowing, my case was heard by MARAC (Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference) a meeting which is held once a month in every area, MARAC assesses domestic abuse cases. I was put into high risk category, I couldn’t believe it, I still can’t. What I know now is MARAC is a meeting where professionals work together to share information, to support victims and to prevent murders!

 

I knew it wasn’t right what ex had done, but I’d learnt to live with it, spending years hiding the truth, sugar coating it, or simply blocking it from my memory, and almost convinced myself that what he’d done wasn’t that bad. MARAC was my saviour, I had daily and then weekly visits from the police, they made sure the house was secure and gave me a personal alarm.

 

After a few weeks the police asked how often ex was still contacting me. I replied with “Not that much anymore, it’s about 30 texts a day” somehow this absurd behaviour had become my reality.

I’d tried ignoring him, but that’s when his messages would become threatening, claiming he’d come up and show Dad a real man; which I knew all too well, meant he was threatening to beat up Dad. Now my Dad can certainly defend himself, but I knew it would’ve been an unfair fight with ex using some sort of weapon, like he’d done before. So next time he called I’d answer to keep him away from my family. The police said whatever you do, do not answer the phone. So I didn’t, ex didn’t ever carry out the threats, but continued to make them via text.

 

Another 2 weeks passed, and the police wanted to talk to him, it took two weeks for me to agree, (still terrified of ex’s reaction if he knew the police were involved) but I eventually said yes. They then said they didn’t want to talk to him, his actions were so unacceptable they wanted to arrest him, after another two weeks of harassment via text and dodgy phone calls I gave the green light, but first I had to go to the station to give a statement. I had no idea it would take 5 hours, they wanted every single detail on record, I’d already buried a lot of it, and after never telling anyone before, it felt traumatic, as if I was reliving it all over again.

 

Although the police couldn’t act on the physical abuse they wanted to have everything on record so when they read my statement out to ex, he knew, they knew what was up. They arrested him and released him on bail for a month, during his bail he wasn’t allowed to contact me or come anywhere near me. His bail was extended by another month and I have never seen him since.

 

I could finally live my life and that’s what I did. I have vowed to always be happy, I know exactly what I want in life and I go for it with all my heart and no regrets. I now travel the world with my amazing and completely devoted boyfriend, we explore the outdoors together, summiting as many mountains in as many countries in as many ways as possible.

Even though it was a horrible life I lived for 5 years, I don’t regret it. It has made me the woman I am now. I’m mentally and physically strong, determined and confident. I appreciate everyone and everything and never pass up on an opportunity. Being able to endure that relationship may have helped me to endure the endurance sports I love so much today.

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I now compete alongside my brother in enduro mountain biking events at an international level. We spend most weekends together, racing all over the country representing Sealskinz, ONE Industries, 661 and Bird Cycleworks.

I would’ve never have imagined that just 6 years after escaping the relationship through the passion and persistence of cycling and the outdoors that I’d be where I am now. If I can do it, anyone can. Never give up, never lose faith in who you are, stay close to your friends and family, and never be ashamed or embarrassed. It’s never too late to turn things around. If you feel too weak to act then get outside, follow my steps and start cycling, running, climbing, hiking, kayaking or hula hooping. You’ll soon regain your strength. Don’t suffer alone and in silence, get outside and be happy.

 

I am forever thankful for the love and support from my family and friends and am closer with them than ever before, and could not be happier.

 

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.
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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.

We Have Mountains Too You Know..

North Wales - cred MikeHopkins (2)

Last June Mike Hopkins visited from Canada. He’s one of Canada’s top free-riders, competing in Red Bull Rampage and basically travelling all over the world being pretty badass, showing everyone how cool mountain biking really is, No biggie! So pressure was on to show him what we have to offer in Britain.

To be honest I was pretty confident, expectations of what we had to offer were set fairly low, thanks to his British friends migrating to Canada from Essex and classic shows like EastEnders and of course all those miserable bastards that just like to complain. I’d tried to tell Mike there’s more to Britain than London, I guess he had to see it to believe it.

When I first met Mike I asked him “What do you think of when you think of England?”..

Simple reply; “dodgy teeth.”

How depressing is that?! Sadly, he had a point, as he said it an English guy was on telly with exceptionally awful teeth, all I could do was cringe and smile awkwardly without showing my teeth. I have nice teeth, but suddenly became aware they weren’t perfect, could probably be whiter and straighter.

His idea of Britain in general wasn’t much better either; flat, busy, over crowded, rushed, cold, wet, muddy, miserable.. the list went on.

It’s sad to say a lot of Brits agree with him, which reminds me of how lucky I am to live where I do. Plus, I avoid cities like the plague.

I picked him up from Manchester before heading to Shropshire. Last time I saw Mike was a few months ago in New Zealand, stoked he was actually here in 4D. 2D relationships get rather tedious.

Timer began, 2 weeks to show off Britain in all its glory. I didn’t do anything too different, he just finally got to do it with me, every day doing something new.

SUMMER SOLSTICE

He arrived on the longest weekend, perfect timing if you’re coming to the Chidleys, we like to make the most of the Summer Solstice; riding, BBQ, beers, pump track, disco shed .. yep, disco shed, all in our garden.

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TENS TIME TRIAL

Over the summer on Tuesday nights there’s an event called The Tens, it’s a ten mile time trial just a couple of miles down the road, I do it on my Mountain bike with slick tyres, but there’s a lot of serious riders. Its awesome training, couldn’t wait for Mike to give it a go. He borrowed my brothers tourer and off we pootled. Even the 6 mile ride down to the start he loved, all the little country roads and covering bigger distances quickly was very appealing. He smashed the tens, in 27:55, for your first attempt that’s a good time, sussing out the course and knowing how to pace yourself is the hard bit, he finished barely out of breath. The following day we discovered the brakes had been stuck on the entire time too, ha!

FELL RACE

The following day was another new activity.. a Fell run! Over the summer a Fell Running series takes place somewhere in Shropshire every other Wednesday night, as a keen Fell Runner I try and do them all. They’re crazy fun (hard, depends on your level of “fun”). However, Mike has only ever been for a handful of runs, usually when I drag him out; he’s never had decent shoes to help with the terrain and the last run he went on was over 3 months ago. Although when he comes out with me he makes me feel insanely slow, it’s quite depressing, I destroy him on the descents but on the climbs he makes me feel like a snail, an old one at that. I knew he’d be good at the climb so told him to pace our friend and awesome runner Dico, however, not only did he do that he passed Dico, patted him on the back and said “Well done Dico, keep it going.” Dico could barely breathe let alone encourage someone else on. Mike had borrowed my Dads trainers, so at least he had some grip for the descent (even if they were a little too big). He lost a few places on the descent but maintained a good speed and finished 5th! Which is an outrage, I was proud but not at all surprised, made me feel better about feeling like an old snail when I’m out alone with him. None of my friends could believe it; they asked “how often do you run?” “I don’t.” was the simple response.

UK GRAVITY ENDURO

Over the weekend Mike came with me and my brother to a National Gravity Enduro in the Lake District, personally never having been to The Lakes I was stoked to share it with Mike.

Now Mike was very much in pain after the run, I guess if you don’t ever run, you better ache after destroying everyone. So he skipped riding on the Friday and had dinner ready when we got back to the camp site about 4 hours later. To be honest, Mike did not enjoy this weekend, and if anything it put him off riding all together, let alone trying out a race. The conditions were miserable and the tracks were less than fun, a bit silly really but hey. So I’m going to skip this weekend..

He did however take a couple of beauties from the weekend..

The weather hadn’t been bad, but week 2 was a little slice of tropical heaven, we had about 3 BBQs in one week.

TENS “Two up”

It was time for the Tens again, but this week was a “two up” event, new for us both we teamed up. Using the same course, we had to work together and ‘slip stream’. We decided, seeing as Mike had the faster bike (and Legs) he’d lead the entire course. Neither of us had ever done any kind of slip streaming, if we ride on the road it was always solo.

Mike set the pace, which was bloody fast for me and my little mountain bike. He kept looking over his shoulder to make sure I was there; I was there, however, most of the time you could fit a bus between us! Throughout the entire route I probably managed to slip stream him for a total of 20 seconds! It was torture, even as I write this my fingers are tapping more aggressively thinking back to how painful and infuriating it was!! I have never.. EVER pushed myself that hard before, EVER! I spent the entire time just trying to catch up with him, it doesn’t count as slip streaming someone if you can fit a bus, or a car or even another bike between you. Mike didn’t realise till afterwards that it’s only effective when the person slip streaming is right on your ass, basically touching your wheel. Every time Mike thought I was close enough he looked back and sped off again. Thankfully he couldn’t hear me, but man alive I was rude. I like a challenge but this was another level. I was lifting the front of the bike forward making it hop off the ground to try and catch him, shouting to him ”WHAT’S THE POINT?!!” With just a couple of miles to the finish he kept shouting back saying “come on Harn, nearly there you’re doing awesome.” I, on the other hand was not in the mood for his positivity and at this point struggling to even breath, was very much hating him.. now hate is a strong word which I only use if it’s necessary.. so it’s staying in.

Enduro World Series - cred Trevor Worsey (2)

As we crossed the finish I kept riding, I have never been so out of breath in my entire life, with each breath I gasped for air as if someone had just tried to drown me in an ocean surrounded by icebergs, and each gasp brought floods of tears to my eyes. However, as soon as I crossed that finish line, the hatred disappeared as if it had never happened, and I was overwhelmed with emotion. Bringing me to my favourite quote “It doesn’t have to be fun to be fun.” It’s a hard one to explain, I was in a world of pain hating life, but my god did I love it. Mike and I agreed we need to work on our slip streaming technique, and he should have the slower bike next time.

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TRYFAN, NORTH WALES 

Mikes visit was sadly coming to an end, I’d tried to do as much as possible with him, but one thing I HAD to do was scramble up Tryfan, It’s one of my favourite hikes but I’ve only ever done it in the pouring rain with close to zero visibility.

So with a tropical clear day ahead of us we took off with plenty of water and our stoke on. One thing we have here that’s undeniable and I totally take for granted, is our history. My house is older than Canada itself. Mike loved all the little towns, the old buildings, the stone walls, the castle ruins, he couldn’t get his head round them. It certainly made me look at everything in a different light, and really appreciate what we’re surrounded by and what it all represents. I like to picture myself going back in time and imagine how it would’ve been back then, which is a pretty cool feeling.

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On route to North Wales Mike was in his element, stone walls for days, castle ruins with mountains forming. We stopped in the beautiful town of Betws-y-Coed for a gander and a coffee and then trucked on. As Tryfan came in to sight I pointed it out and told Mike that’s what we’re going up. He was another level stoked, it looked awesome. I kept reminding Mike that this is where the inspiration came from for Lord of the Rings .. and The Shire is Shropshire. I’ve told him many-a-times, but he finally saw it for himself. We headed up in to the mountain, it was so fricking cool; I love that mountain, its proper scrambling. We made our way up finding the hardest and most exciting route to the top.

North Wales - cred MikeHopkins (3)CLIFBAR break - cred MikeHopkins

Half way up we heard some crazy loud fighter jets come towards us, I’d seen them before so looked up at Mike to catch his reaction as he was frantically searching for them in the sky. Just as he thought he’d missed it, Mike looked down and there they were, two fighter jets speeding through the valley beneath us. They even turned completely sideways as they meandered through the mountains. Mike looked like a little kid at Christmas, so excited, never having seen anything like it. They came by again about 2 hours later and then another cool fighter plane came through, it was much bigger, looked like it was going half the speed and was almost silent, pretty cool.

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Once we reached the summit greeted by Adam and Eve we took some classic tourist pictures before a group of Canadians got to the top too. What are the chances they’d be Mikes fellow Countrymen, I was out numbered on my own turf.. and, it gets better. Apparently it was Canada day (Mike forgot), they’d carried a big Canadian flag with them to the top of the mountain.. So we borrowed it for a couple of rad snaps.

We rushed home for another BBQ which sadly brings Mikes journey to an end.

Everyone loved having him here, he fits right in with the Shropshire Mons. It’s great to see my home through his eyes, I’ve always appreciated it, but now I notice and think about things I just took for granted. It’s safe to say, Mikes impression of Britain has somewhat changed.

Until next time my furry Canadian friend .. I have much more to show you.

Cheerio old chap, See you on skype..

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