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!

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