Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Not Climbing

Somewhere on the South Downs Way

No, I never thought I would say it, but I found another sport that I really enjoy, mountain biking. I’m extremely rubbish at it since I’m too unfit for the uphill bits and too scared for downhill, but that’s all part of the attraction.

I was on the M4 coming home after a fun, but ultimately fruitless climbing weekend and I was thinking about how much I didn’t enjoy bouldering at the moment. I feel pressurised (by who, me I guess?) to always climb my hardest despite the fact that I’m still injured and haven’t yet made up for lost time. I was trying a project that is well within my ability, but I just don’t seem to be able to do it. I feel that I ought to have done it, but clearly I didn’t. This doesn’t exactly sit well with me.

I can’t train properly as campusing seems a bridge too far for the shoulder at the moment, not to mention the finger injury. I’m punching below my weight. Given this, what can I still hope to achieve? Well, I’ve been trying to answer that question with each new project. It mostly just led to a lot of disappointment, but I did get Fagin, which was nice, especially given the above.

I’ve never been motivated to do easier stuff. I feel as though I’ve had to take my properly hard projects off the agenda for the moment and devise some easier tasks. The seeking out of low grade classics has been rewarding, but still, it’s not why I climb. Last week however, I went to my nearest crag and did a few cool problems. I was just so happy to be able to go climbing in relative ease on a beautiful day, the grades were almost irrelevant.

Which brings me back to mountain biking… I think it’s safe to assume that I have more fast-twitch muscle fibers than slow and it often feels as though I have a nearly negative maximal oxygen uptake rate. I like running, but I really, really struggle with it. Same goes for cycling; it is just a bit easier. Of course I can improve at both but I don’t think that I’ll ever be that good at them, which is actually quite a nice feeling for a change.

I’m happy to just be able to complete a route without having to walk my bike too often. I don’t feel the need to push it at all, which is a completely new concept for me. It’s fine to just get out and enjoy the scenery and gain some more general fitness. I find it scary though, sometimes even more so than climbing as sometimes you're in less control. I like learning about new things as well and the zillions of parts that comprise a bike are certainly new to me. Riding on XC trails is much more complicated than just riding on roads, weight back, arms bent, etc. The roots, rocks, and occasional grazing animals presents lots of unique puzzles... um, kinda like bouldering.

I’m hoping that soon it will be time to dust off that dream problem list, but for now – I’m happy just bimbling with mountain biking.

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