Feb Challenge #3 - Ride the Strathpuffer Mountain Bike Course

Working for The Adventure Show I've filmed and edited the Strathpuffer 24hr MTB race quite a few times.

Yet I had never ridden it.  Now that has changed.  However, my lap of the 'Puffer course proved a little more eventful than I anticipated.

Watching all the pictures from every camera we've had on the course I felt as if I knew my way around.

Also I imagined such a famous course would be way marked.  So it was almost an afterthought I downloaded the .GPX file and put it on my Garmin watch.  Turned out, that file was absolutely essential - the only way I could work out where to go.

I had planned to make a nice wee film about riding the course.  I carried a GoPro Session on a tiny tripod and had all the material.  It was going quite well until one event which blew everything else away.

As I bumped my front wheel onto the bridge I immediately realised how slippery the green wood had become.  I had visions of getting half-way across, skidding, and dropping over the edge.  So I braked, and tried to balance by putting my right foot on the bridge arch.  Unfortunately, it skidded off (twice I think) and then the rest of my body followed.

I felt fine for a couple of hours, but by the evening my right arm was very sore.  At 3am I needed some Neurofen Plus to get back to sleep.  I've put my next swim lesson back one week.  Healing is slower at my age, but hopefully I'll be fit again soon.

Watching the video again, I can see why my right arm hurts, because it bore the brunt of my fall.  Fortunately the bike was still set-up from Craggy Island Triathlon, with flat pedals not SPDs.  So I was wearing running shoes.  I shudder to think how much this would have hurt had I been clipped into the pedals.

Feb Challenge #2 - A Two Night Break in a Dog Friendly Hotel

What kind if a challenge is this!?  Two nights in a lovely country house hotel!

Well it must be rather difficult because, apart from 'proper holidays', Liz and I haven't had a two-night stay in a nice hotel since 2009.

There's always something else to do or we use the campervan.  So staying at a posh hotel would be a challenge for all our wee family.

I've stayed in the Could House Hotel several times when filming The Strathpuffer mountain bike race for The Adventure Show.  It is - by far - the best hotel we ever use.  Luxurious yet friendly, not at all stuffy, and with fabulous food.

Plus it's dog-friendly.  Eat in the bar, and your canine companion can lie at your feet.  Just like Maggie in the photo above.

Best of all, staying here allowed me to tackle yet another personal challenge, of riding the course of the Strathpuffer.  That didn't quite turn out as I'd hoped, as you'll see Monday.

February Challenge #1 - Ride a Winter Lap of the Isle of Mull

This has long been on my tick-list yet for some reason I never got around to it.

If I'm honest, it's because it looked rather tough.

I wasn't certain I could complete it in a respectable time.

Yet that's what these challenges are partly about.  Not exactly a bucket list, more like motivation to tidy up some loose ends.  Things I've always meant to do but didn't get around to.

I'm doing at least one a month in this my 60th year on the planet.

Loads of people have ridden a full circuit of the Isle of Mull.  Indeed, this is the route of the Mull sportive.  But most folk wait until the cafes are open, the days are longer, and CalMac switches to its summer timetable with more sailings.

January Challenge #2 - Cure My Sinky Swim Legs

Sinking legs are the curse of many triathletes who didn't start swimming at an early age.

We rely on the buoyancy of our wetsuits to lift our legs.  Training in the pool we can't wait to put the pull-buoy between our legs and get extra lift.

My legs just sink.  Seriously, it's like towing a truck through the water.

Since I'm taking on challenges during this, my 60th year, I decided that 'curing' this affliction was one I had to tackle.

This will not happen quickly.  Some of my challenges, such as my first, will have instant results - success or failure.  This is quite different.

Wetsuit Repair Highly Recommended

 I did this while getting ready for our swim on 1st January 2018.

When I put on a wetsuit I wear soft cotton gloves to protect the neoprene from 'classic' half-moon thumb-nail tears, but this was something quite different.

Liz has previously sewn old wetsuits together with dental floss, but as this was in the thin shoulder neoprene, she didn't feel this was possible.  Frankly, I didn't know how to fix this.

I contacted BlueSeventy who helped with the repair, advising me to send it to Techneopro.
Their website shows several types of repair.  I was told they are fast and good.

Our Local (Big) Pool

Pool swimming isn't easy living here.  It's an hour's drive to the Fort William swimming pool which has to be timed to catch the Corran Ferry.  The pool is used by the schools, so times are a little restricted.

So when we fancy a quick swim, we turn to Loch Sunart and go in at the Strontian slipway.  Two rivers enter the loch near here and after heavy rain the much colder fresh water sits on top of the sea water.  Recently it has even frozen.  However, all was good on Saturday.

January Challenge - Start 2018 with a Century Ride

Half-way into this ride, I still had no idea whether I could complete it.

I had genuinely been more confident about finishing my Ironman than I was about this challenge.  I'd trained for nine months before the Ironman and done countless practice rides.

This was my first of the year.

I've previously explained why I like taking on challenges where the outcome is uncertain.  This one clearly demonstrates they don't need months of planning complex logistics.