Saturday, 18 June 2011


or how I managed to miss marion's reading despite re-arranging work.

the signs were there on tuesday when i had a rare night off to get off with the tuesday boys. where is mr p i queried. he was at the boys school sports day, they told me, he was entering the dads' running race. running, i said, is he mad? if he wasn't then he is now, they told me, he's torn both his hamstrings. and then followed a long conversation about the need for stretching in cycling males of a certain age. that one sentence is about as interesting as i can make it.

the following day i got phoned up to see if i wanted to lend a bit of moral support to a three peaks challenge (up and down the three highest hills in the uk in 24hrs). sounds good i said so long as i've time to get on the bike before i go. i texted geo. guess what, I said, i'm going to climb ben nevis. but you hate walking came the reply, you've got dodgy knees, it's been fifteen years since we last did a hill and wasn't it you who whined like a little girl the last time i made you walk to the beach? are you mad?

but it sounded like a lark and was in aid of man cancer so i was not to be dissuaded. off to the ben we went where we found it, despite it being late afternoon, swarming with folk all doing the same as we were. great weather, no wind so off we went, and after a bit of initial foot discomfort i was able to push the pace a bit at the front.

but so many people. and so few of them from scotland. vast swathes of englishness coupled with japanese, chinese, spanish, italians and a rake of germans. it took until nearly the top until i was finally greeted with the glottal stops of my countrymen which was good in itself as one of the behaviors notably manifesting itself was the inability of many of the walkers to respond to a greeting with anything other than an 'are you the loony on the bus' look. there were also a fair number of folk who could reasonably be described as defying their years. they were all great (they all said hello) and every one of us said we'd be aiming to be as active at the same age.

and up the hill. we had one guy who was lagging a bit so i was back and forward a bit pacing him up but we still managed up the hill in just over two hours which was within their planned time and no-one was looking too burst. and then down the hill. only a couple of hundred metres downhill and i started to lag. going up had been fine, big steps, not unlike pedaling. downhill on the other hand uses a completely different set of muscles, muscles i never have any reason to use. i shortcutted down a couple of runners paths but even so everyone else got in well ahead of me – it took longer to descend than it took me to get to the top!

by friday morning i couldn't move. i curled up in a blanket and dozed, any thought of walking (walking!) to the train station far less through the centre of glasgow the last thing either I or my body wanted to do. the only silver lining is that t is in kilkenny so couldn't witness my attempts to get up and down the stairs. and that's before i went to work!

i'm not sad i don't do the hills any more. it was good when i did it but going up the ben, albeit at a busy time, reminded me of why i like the bike better. that said, with a decent team and some proper conditioning into my legs who knows?

*for those interested in that sort of thing we were up and down in 4:20. without the leg issue i reckon i could comfortably get that down to 3:30. the record - 1:25!!!!!


Marion McCready said...

whined like a little girl eh? lol haven't been out in the hills for so long, when the kids get bigger I aim to get back out. it's the downhill my husband struggles with too, it's the knees for him.

swiss said...

we were only walking the back road out to gallanach at oban! i was lying on the floor for my back and everything! lol

i only got one dodgy knee bit but, fortunately all the muscles around my knees hold it all together. i tried using the poles and while i think they'd be good in the right circumstances i found them just a bit of a faff

Roxana said...

i adore these funny stories of yours! :-) (well funny to us, i know i know)

"the only silver lining" haha

swiss said...

in which case you'll be first in the proof reading queue when i collect them all together!

kate said...

2hrs to the top is not bad going at all. a friend of mine is planning on doing the ramsey round, schedule time says 1.5hrs to the top and that feels like you're pushing it quite a bit. but like you say, it's the down that gets you!!! ...seems a shame not to have a bike to help ;)

swiss said...

there were, of course bits that looked mad and technical but there wereothers where i was just plain depressed at how much more quickly i'd be going if i was on the bike!

that said a couple of people have said to me - you're walking again? and have planted the idea it might not be a bad idea of a way to spend a day. i remain unconvinced, but not as unconvinced as i have been.

my legs are still a bit off tho. i'm going to add in a couple of days running into my schedule - i can't be having any of these shenanigans ahppening again. plus t was looking at knoydart last night while i was map checking for the c2c and fancying the notion of a hike. more than a tandem! lol

Dominic Rivron said...

Once spent a happy hour in that tin box on the top with a crowd of strangers I couldn't even see, passing round a whisky bottle in the dark while a blizzard blew over the summit outside.

You're right, if I read you right: to not greet or acknowledge the greeting of other walkers you pass on the hill is uncouth.

I have had a tendency to waddle down hill after walking up. I find jogging down hills easier than walking down them. Must be something to do with the muscles.

swiss said...

i did try a bit of running but they've closed the best bit of runners path