Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Mountain High!

Originally uploaded by Kate Potter
Training can be tough, but when you have glorious mountain views on every ride and breathe crisp mountain air then you really can't complain. When I'm riding for hours on end, and the legs start to complain then I just tell them to think about where they are and if they don't behave then I will make them get up at 4am in the morning for a training session on the turbo. Then they behave, as they know I will stick to my word.
When I used to live in Nottingham I had plenty of 4am training sessions before full time work teaching and then at night trying to help Ian get AQR Holidays off the ground. I look back on those early days and don't miss the lack of sleep and all the long hours the two of us put in. But I know it was necessary in order to realise our dream of living in the mountains. Nothing in this world comes easy, and it makes me laugh when people say that we have been very lucky. Perhaps lady luck did play a part, but not without alot of hard work along the way.
These days we are probably working even harder as we both have our own personal goals that we are chasing as well as running a mountain bike holiday company. But whenever the stress of thinking becomes too much for Mrs P, I just take myself off and sit beside the river or take a short walk into the mountains. It really makes you stop and think about what is important in one's life.
Right now I'm resting very weary legs after 3 weeks of heavy training and looking forward to all the racing, guiding and biking adventures ahead. It all kicks off in March, and it may not be until October that I find some quiet time to just go and spend the afternoon in the mountains by myself. But there's nothing better then having something to look forward to. Like our AQR guests have a holiday to look forward, Ian and I don't need holidays as we just look forward to being home in Luchon and riding our bikes.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Skills session with Mr Potter.

Well training is in full force and luckily the weather has been amazing so we have been out on the bike alot this week. Three hours riidng in the sun and playing in the leaves and the occasional section of snow. Ian has been trying to make me more spontaneous and has been taking me on some epic mountain bike adventures lately. This has involved missing out trails altogether and riding deer tracks or skipping the trail altogether and just riding where one can....there have been some pretty steep and hariy moments. Has Ian's training made me more spontaneous? Well I managed to ride what the boys call the 'wall of death' the other day. It is a section of trail that suddenly ends. You either ride what is left of the bank or look at it for a very long time and be called a wimp. Ian made me ride in front of him and he said if I chicken out he will simply ride into me. Well it worked and I rode the 'wall of death'. Unfortunately though I stopped too soon on the other side of the wall (jumping for joy because I made it alive), which meant Ian was forced to ride into my back wheel. He rebounded off my back wheel and off the trail altogether....lucky there are plenty of trees to hug in Luchon, hey love?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Back in Training....on the mountain slopes.

My rest week was over pretty quickly and now I'm back into plenty of exercise hours in the mountain air. I'm loving winter!!!!! I know I used to complain about the cold in the UK, but here in Luchon it is unlike any winter I have ever experienced. For starters there is sunshine and snow at the same time. There are never any dreary grey days, and I have discovered snow showing. I love this sport so much. You can walk just about anywhere and the views are sensational. Neil (my coach) says you use the same muscle groups as you do cycling, so I'm totally stoked as I can choose whether I want to go cycling for 5-6hrs or go snow shoeing....I'm loving variety. Only problem is I hate making decisions, so sometimes it takes me a while to actually choose which work out I want to do each day, as I love riding my bike too.....but the days are warming up. Soon there will be no choice but to always ride my bike and wait for next winter to come around.

The Potter's head to Italy...

Originally uploaded by Kate Potter
The Potter's headed to Montifiascone in Italy to see Ian's dad Paul and Caroline. It was quite surreal driving to Italy from Luchon, as we only planned the trip the day before. We hired a car and filled it to the brim with my bike, turbo and various other exercise equipment, including running shoes and a swimming costume.
The drive was a smooth one in France, and I loved driving through Monaco, but once we hit Italy it was secure seat belts and hang on for dear life, as Italian drivers like to go fast and swap lanes whenever they fancy it. There were a few hairy moments, but we managed to find Ian's Paul Dad in one piece, who was meeting the two of us, en route. I thought I could relax, but I forgot that Paul also likes to drive fast, and Ian hates to be out done by his dad. Luckily, being the Mrs in this relationship, I had calm words with Mr Potter (junior) who I threatened to throw up on if he didn't slow down. We arrived at Paul and Caroline's beautiful home, called 'Serendipity', at about 10:30pm.
The next day, which is officially Day 1 of our little Italian adventure, will be posted shortly......

The Potter's trip to the Thermal bathes

Ian and I hit the thermal bathes in Viterbo, which is where one of the Pope’s used to hang out apparently. The pool was amazing as it looked just like an olympic sized swimming pool, but it was 58 degrees. One end was very shallow where people of all ages lounged about and even looked like they were sleeping. I wanted to do laps, so I hung out down the deeper end where there were very few people. After one lap I was so hot, that I needed a few seconds out of the water to cool down. I loved this experience and I know Ian found it very relaxing as well, even in his hot pink bathing shorts that he borrowed off his dad.....if only I had a photo. Unfortunately all the photos we took inside the swimming pool do not exist as Ian forgot to put the memory card in the camera. I’m convinced he did it on purpose to ensure I didn’t take a photo of him looking ‘pretty in pink’.

Ian and Dad Paul...Like father like son.

Ian and Dad Paul
Originally uploaded by Kate Potter
Paul, Ian and I had a day in Olvetto, where there is this amazing cathedral unlike any cathedral I have seen before.
Two crazy Potters in this photo, one a bike freak (you know who that is), and the other into heavy rock. The third crazy Potter is taking this photo and is very proud to be part one of the Potter clan.

The view of Orvieto

Originally uploaded by Kate Potter
Mr Potter (senior) et moi checking out the view of Orvieto.

Last Day in Montifiascone...

Lake Bolsena
Originally uploaded by Kate Potter
This afternoon Ian and I were on dog walking duties, which I always really enjoy. I wanted to head down to Lake Bolsena.
Hiking is part of my training and I had to do an hour of exercise today. Unfortunately Ian and the dogs were knackered after 50 minutes, and I had to practically drag all four of them away from the car to ensure I got my hour in.

The Cathedral of Orvieto...returning to Luchon

Originally uploaded by Kate Potter
Today I was very scared....and lots of praying took place, hence this photo of the famous Orvieto Cathedral.
Ian and I woke up at 5am and returned to our home in Luchon. Our journey was going well and we thought so long as we didn't have any problems we would be back in Luchon by early evening. Paul phoned us to see where we were, and he confirmed that we were making good time. I made the mistake of saying, well so long as we don't have any problems.....
We were about 4hrs away from Luchon when we noticed hundreds and hundreds and hundred of lorries and buses were parked up on the outside lane of the motor way we were travelling on. We also kept seeing electronic signs stating we were in a high wind area. Then we felt it....only a gentle breeze at first, before a huge gust of wind every now and then that made our little vehicle shudder. We carried on and were only a short distance away from out turn off to Luchon when the winds became really intense. We ended up seeing lorries blown over and large vehicles, that refused to stop, being blown from side to side. Trees were flying in every direction and there were rocks and garbage blown all over the motor way that we had to swerve to try and avoid. Then, the little traffic that was on the road came to a standstill, as two lorries had been blown over and blockd the entire three lanes. For over an hour we were parked up beside a bus that kept shaking everytime a gust of wind hit it. Our car felt quite secure, but what terrified me was when we drove past larger vehicles that weren't coping with the high winds, and I kept thinking they might end up crushing us.
When we reached our turn off to Toulouse the Gendarme closed the motorway and we were forced to continue south to Perpignon. From Perpignon we headed onto a B road that we hoped would take us to Luchon. Luckily we were protected from the high winds, but the road was tight, with plenty of twists and turns to test us. It ended up being an extra three hour loop back to the motorway which we hoped would be open, as it was dark and we had been driving for over 15hrs. No luck, we were forced to find a B&B and wait until the next day to continue our journey home.