Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Road cycling and yoga in the Elan Valley

My dad loved geography. He would read maps in bed, spread out across the covers, like other people read books. At Christmas and birthday time I’d wander into town with a list of OS maps he wanted.

I’ve inherited his collection of maps but not his love of geography.

Hands up then. I confess, I didn’t know where the Elan Valley was when I booked this cycling and yoga trip. It’s road cycling - I love that! And yoga - I love that too! And it’s in a valley somewhere, which will be lovely and flat.

The Welsh mountains, then, came as a bit of a shock.

Welsh miles are different, too. On the day of our arrival we were scheduled to ride a route of around 30 miles. I took half a bottle of water and two snack bites for what I thought would be a quick spin. I’d underestimated the terrain, the heat and my fellow cyclists, some of whom had legs which appeared to start at my shoulder height. Seventeen miles in (and up), I felt sick and was seeing double. The last ten miles were teeth-grindingly hard.

When I got up for cake, back at the Lodge, I couldn’t feel myself walking.

Fortunately, things got a whole lot better after that.

On Saturday we split into two groups. The superwomen went off on an 80-mile ride with Emily Chappell, who would lead them up the Devil’s Staircase. The rest of us set off on a 50-mile ride at a gentler pace.

There were still plenty of murderous climbs and when we weren’t climbing, we were ‘undulating’. There was time, though, to watch the red kites and buzzards soaring at eye-level. There was time to take in the blossom, strewn over hedgerows like icing sugar. There was time for a leisurely lunch and even a blissful cooling paddle in the River Wye. There was time to trudge up hills too steep for me to pedal and to enjoy swooping, whooping, flying descents.

The perfect day included a sneaky break at a busy pub, second helpings of supper, rounded off with a glass of wine and a walk in the Dark Sky Park.

Memories are made of this.

Sunday got off to a slightly later start. After breakfast the two groups set off again for our final rides in the sunshine.

This was a cycling and yoga weekend, with yoga sessions specific to cyclists. I’ve done quite a bit of yoga and classes aimed at cyclists but I learned some amazing stretches I’d never encountered before.  Judging by the groans in the room, they hit the spot with the other riders, too.

I didn’t only learn new stretches. I learned to tighten my stomach and use an imaginary corset to help me get up hills. I learned that the clip on my Camelback was actually a lock. Fortunately I learned that before emailing a complaint to the manufacturer. I learned to carry more food and less tension. Most of all, I learned that I really can climb every mountain - even if sometimes, I have to jump off the bike and push.

You can find more info about this break here:
Road Cycling and Yoga weekend




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