Put your hands up who has an item of clothing that you basically do everything in… well i do, and my ‘do it’ item is my cut off howies shorts. I love them. Lots of pockets, hard wearing cotton canvas fabric and a slouchy fit. The hem has frayed considerably, which makes me look like I have been castaway on an island for a few months. But i always wear when out on an adventure or exploring somewhere on my bike.. that isn’t further than 8km. Any rides over that i tend to go for proper riding shorts.
Today has been pretty hot, so i opted for my adventure castaway short, and a Adidas mesh yoke t-shirt. The mesh in the t-shirt provided much needed breathability and the shorts have a reinforced bum panel, which is perfect for exploring the local area on my bike. Team those two with some circular knit, and boom i’m ready for anything.
My style is pretty relaxed, and as much as i try dressing up and being more girly, i always gravitate towards my trusty shorts and a slouchy tee.
Castaway in China
Songjiang is a maze of waterways
So the temperature outside today has been around 32 degrees… which in my books is scorchio! But when ever i mention this to a season ‘Shangaist’, they always respond.. well if you were here in the summer it’s like 40 degrees!! Well it’s not summer, but i still think it’s pretty hot.. so i will moan about it as much as i like.
After a very lazy morning of limited movement and light housework, i decided i should head outside for a steady ride. I wanted to ride over to Sheshan National Park… the only hill within miles of anywhere, and around 8km from my flat. Sheshan ‘mountain’ or in reality a hill, has an amazing observatory at the top, and a huge microscope pod thing. I was hoping to park my bike up (unfortunately no riding on the hill) and walk up, but when i got there the place was swamped with tons of tourists, cars and coaches. It was pretty manic, so i decided my levels of patience were not up for tourist dodging, and so ended up just cycling around the boundary. I’m hoping when i head over there later in the week, out of National holiday it will be a lot quieter. There is a series of hills in close proximity to Shesan, which i will try and get too.
Whilst riding home, i noticed a beautiful temple and walkway that crossed the corner of a lake. Without hesitation i made a detour ready to explore this place further. The Xilin pagoda and Buddhist temple was amazing, there was a real tranquil feel about the place and only a handful of tourists. I think it helped that i got there late afternoon, and as i walked past the pagoda, i soon found myself in an amazing courtyard, surrounded with lanterns, water features and a huge gold Buddha statue. There were a couple of monks sat around chatting, and incense sticks burning away. The whole place had an air of calmness to it, apart from when the alsatian dog started barking, but this soon stopped when one of the monks took it for a walk!! Ha. The monks where dress in a mustard yellow robes, with loose fitting cropped cotton trousers, socks and pumps. All mustard yellow. Looked quite comfy to be honest. They didn’t seem too committed to the job, and from what i witness, they just sat around lazying about. I bet they all have mobile phones and a flat screen TV back in their bedrooms! I managed to do a quick walk round and take some snaps before the place closed for the day, but i will definitely visit here again.
I finally got my bike all built up yesterday, and with the addition of Google maps on my Chinese phone (this has made me so happy), i’m now already to explore Songjiang where i live. Plus China is all on National Holiday, so i get next week off work which is cool. Having just moved into my new apartment three days ago, i’m quite eager to get out an about and begin to find my way around. So i decided to head towards the main lake and Thames Town for a steady pedal. The current weather is high humidity, a grey haze and 30 degree heat, so i decided that less is more for my outfit.
I absolutely love my circular knit cycling shorts, being the 6ft leggy cyclist that i am, most dresses, skirts etc tend to be quite short.. so having these underneath is brill. The circular knit means no annoying seams, or rubber/ silicone gripper tape that eventually digs into your skin. I’m hoping i can do a small production of these shorts whilst i’m here.. there just so comfy. My bodysuit is from Topshop tall section, and my sports bra is again circular knit, and was a sample i permanently borrowed from where i used to work. I tell thee, circular knit is the future. My outfit was perfect for today, and cycling was a great way to escape the stifling humid heat.
I spent sometime sat by the lake and eating lemon sponge cake.. so a pretty good afternoon in my books. The Chinese have a very sweet tooth, i need to start avoiding the cake and bread shops… but the smell is just sooo good.
I have been in China for a month and it’s definitely been a roller coaster that has had some interesting highs and lows. Within three days of arriving i was straight into work and meeting my class of twenty eight students. I knew i’d be nervous, but it certainly took me awhile to begin to feel confident speaking to them. I guess moving to a new place that has a completely different culture and language, was always going to be hard, and especially as this is my first teaching job. But i have made it to the month marker.. and i’m still alive. I now have somewhere to live, a really nice two bedroom apartments 22 floors up in the sky. The supermarket is right next door, and a beautiful park just across the road which is just a dream in the evenings, to escape the hustle and bustle of city living. Finally got my mtb built up, and have been out exploring the local area today. Cruising and eating cake.I have posted some photo’s of my Saturday exploration. China is currently on National Holiday, so there is a lot going on around Songjiang, and Shanghai. Hoping to get out tomorrow for some more pedalling and exploring.
Never far away from the Gower
The view from my apartment block
Above are some photos taken from my local area and also a place called Thames Town.. aka the town that has been modelled on areas on Britain. Apart from the bins and the street signs, i would say there were no resemblances to home at all. But it was cool to see.. plus it’s a hot spot for young newly married couple to have their wedding photos taken. So imagine really shit examples of British buildings, and loads of girls in huge wedding dresses standing around. Welcome to China!
Its been a year.. a whole 365 day period of not blogging or documenting or doing anything particularly creative that i feel proud of. This last month has seen my life move in a whole new direction and though the ground beneath my feet feels slightly uneven now, a change needed to be made. Its scary jumping out of the boat… that initial rush of adrenaline you get knowing you’ve made a difference in your daily routine to the feelings of anxiety about whether it’s the right thing to of done, if you can swim to safety. I’m hoping by taking this plunge into unchartered waters that i’ll start to find new opportunities, new motivation and most importantly inspiration.
Well i left the house wearing two layer of howies merino today… rib vest and a long sleeve base layer! Yikes when did summer stop and the autumnal winterness begin to creep in? I can feel it creep in down my back and the wind wiping at my hands, making them feel like i’ve been holding a ice cube for 5 minutes.
Its been a great summer this year and im not just talking about the sunshine turning grim into great, no im on about my first committed season to racing DH. I decided at the end of last winter to retire my 10 ton ancient Commi Mini DH bike and replace him with a younger and more capable machine.. a Trek Session 8. Well what can i say this bike rocks.. its just so bloody fast. I remember using it for the first time at the Fod race in Feb, i nearly has a bowel malfunction, i couldn’t get over how much it just sucks up the bumps and compressions and flew over everything. Totally new experience but lucky not to alien that it had me running scared. You might read this thinking, what she on with but im from a background of 80 mm xc forks and knobbly road tyre (cyclo-X). Though my Commi was burly and capable of gunning it downhill… it really doesn’t have a patch on Shrek the Trek.
So with a new bike to show off and whole load of new skills to be learnt i entered my first BDS at Antur Stinlog up in North Wales. This venue was a great place to get the DH ball rolling, the course offered up some flat out sections, technical rock obstacles and a end run of doubles. I found it a little daunting to begin and felt conscious of holding other riders up in practice, but after a couple of runs down i decided that if i keep thinking like that i’ll never get anywhere. I did have Danny Hart come flying past me in the air on one of the final doubles.. that was pretty impressive.
Race day came round quick and before i knew it i was getting ready for my seeding run… looking back now at a couple of the photo my face did look pretty grey.. I have always suffered quite badly with nerves, bloomin wreck. I wasn’t that bad but i think it was just the anticipation of racing in a national level race. Mixture of excitement and the unknown. My seeding run went well, had a cleanish run, didn’t managed to clear any of the jumps at the lower section which was annoying but thats just something that will come over time and practice.
BDS round 1 Antur Stinlog
After trying to eat a small cereal bar and banana i was soon jumping onto the uplift wagon and setting off for the start of my race run. I always tend to feel a bit better for doing a run, kinda makes me see how i cope at race speeds and also highlights the areas where i can give it more beans. So now that the nerves had settled slightly.. I waited up at the start gates. Before long it was my time to go, so with the timing machine ticking down i got focused – 30 seconds— 15— 10– beep beep beeeeeep… and i’m off, BOOM. I’m pedaling as much as i dare myself to. Trying to be conscious of not clipping my pedals on any of the rocks sticking out of the ground and also flowing the corners without losing to much speed. I then approach the middle rock section.. this was a little tricky due to the slippery slabs of slate and also the holes that had begun to appear due to all us riders shredding the course. I managed to get through here near enough clean but did catch my right leg on a sharp rock, race memento! From here i just pedaled and pumped as much as i could whilst my heart did flips and my brain kept repeating ‘just get me to the bottom’.. ‘i really want to finish’… and i did! I flew into the finish and managed to win my first ever BDS race in the Senior Women’s category. Amazing experience and left me wanting to approved so the next time i can do those jumps at the bottom and hopefully go even faster! Woohooooo
First BDS race
Nervous but excited
Oh i do luves a bit of Downhill biking!! More race reports to follows
I watched this short documentary on Friday at work and i found it brought a small tear to my eye. It’s an brief insight into random strangers lives and reasons to why they get up and go running in the park. It isn’t just about how sport and exercise keeps you fit and healthy, it is more importantly a tool for dealing with every day life. A very heartfelt film.
Guess i can associate with this because though i like the health and social benefits of cycling/ surfing etc, these aren’t the main reasons why i participate in these activities. I definitely find it a good way of dealing with life’s obstacles, doubts and worries, it also provides a solution to balancing these things out in only a way that i can understand.
Take a look…