Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Well it’s the November off season for the Potters, no guiding, no travelling, no racing, I should really say no training....but I won’t....Ian will as he’s knackered from the staircase build project I blogged about recently. It should really be a time to relax, unwind, re-charge the Potter batteries because it’s not long until it all starts again. But I’m discovering more and more of my youthful 21 year old self within me 30 plus year old bones. Each month I seem to be gaining even more strength than the month before.  I was told this might happen by the doctor, but it’s gone a little bit haywire and out of control....BUT, I AM LOVING IT!!!!!!....although Ian’s not quite filled with the same enthusiasm -

A TYPICAL KP MONDAY - 5am start, followed by a 3hr turbo training session to kick start the day, then off for a 2-3hr hike (as I’m helping a friend train for her walk to Everest Base Camp), then in the AQR office because I ought to be doing some work. In the afternoon I head off on my Cotic X to enjoy the lower Luchon trails that lead me to water aerobics, that I originally joined to meet more locals in Luchon (but actually it’s difficult to communicate even more so now as I haven’t mastered the co-ordination of speaking French whilst gasping for breath and swallowing water J) And then a quick trail blast up and down our Pyrenean backyard on my lovely Soda, especially if I can drag Mr P away from his darn X-Box machine...he just wants to kill things in his spare time lately! But my new levels of crazy high energy are taking great joy in killing him up the hills....so it’s not so much fun when he refuses to ride with me J

Feeling as I did 10 years ago has made me think about the past recently and the life changing experiences that lead me to mountain biking in the first place. Back in my teen years and 20’s I was a royal pain in the toenail and never held down a proper relationship because my running shoes and gym membership were always given more attention than the males in my life. In fact, as far as I was concerned boyfriends just got in the way of the minutes, hours and all the spare moments possible when I could be running along beaches, hiking across trails and spinning it up in spin classes. Life was more than a box of chocolates as my nick name used to be ‘Forest Gump’....it was a cycle of one sporty adventure after another. The two Aussie lads that stayed around for the longest were Shane and Bruce (I shan’t use their real names just in case they actually read my blog....that would be a right ‘oops’ moment).

Anyway both guys were keen to please me for some reason....silly boys! In the early weeks of their blossoming love they actually dared join me for one of my many trail runs, only ever one mind you. The problem was I’m not one to stick to a time frame, and could never confirm how long I would run for, because if I was off road and I spotted a new trail, well it would be rude not to check it out. The problem was they were much faster than me over a short distance, but had no stamina (TYPICAL MALE J...now before you jump up and down Ian told me to write that!!!).

As soon as I caught them up they would sprint off into the distance to give themselves enough time to have a break before I caught them up again. So in actual fact we hardly saw each other on my long running adventures because when I caught them up they were too out of breath to speak and when they did speak they simply whinged about suffering aches and pains and then they ran off in front again.....AGHHHH.....which did my head in!!! I felt surrounded by negative energy, so I wasn’t very sympathetic to these boys (I have since learnt to be a tad kinder, so I apologise for my lack of sympathy if you two read this and know who you are....especially Bruce who really did suffer altitude sickness when I made you climb/run a big mountain in Morocco all those years ago....sorry J )

So when I decided to head to Portugal 8 years ago to see what cycling in the mountains was all about, who would have thought I would instantly hit it off with the guide, or rather he would hit it off with me (hee hee hee (evil laugh)....Mr P deserves a medal), but more importantly fall in love with a sport that has endless opportunities for adventure and new found experiences. I had actually booked myself on the wrong holiday because I didn’t know what mountain biking was at the time, nor did I realise you could actually ride off road, I just loved the idea of riding a bike and exploring a new country. It was love at first RPM when I pedalled my hire bike uphill for the first time, I can’t remember the name of it, but it was blue, my favourite colour. When I attempted my first descent my lovely blue bike was patient, caring and confidence inspiring, actually Mr P was pretty patient back then with me too believe it or not J

Together my bike and I discovered beautiful views, trails filled with giggle fit moments, especially when I kissed dirt every so often. Ian actually had to drag ME, a once upon a time BEACH GIRL, away from my bike and down to the stunning beaches on the Algarve coastline for a DAY OFF the trails.... grrrrrr.....it was the first time he saw me sulk!

I still hold treasured memories of that week of mountain biking in Portugal and often look at the photos of my FIRST mountain bike adventure. I met a wonderful bunch of biker Brits for the first time....I had been living in London and had yet to meet many British people...sad but true.  I discovered a part of the world that I would never had explored if I hadn’t been on a mountain bike, but best of all it lead me to my true love.....s......My shiny COTIC SODA....AND my future hubby....MR P! J

My running shoes were laid to rest for a little while, they probably needed the rest, but I had come to the realisation that mountain biking made more sense because I could see more of the world in one day then I could with these ol’ Forest Gump running legs.

Since then we Potters have lived, cycled and explored the UK, Australia, France, Greece, Germany, Spain, Slovenia, Switzerland, Belgium, Italy, America, Canada......and although there are still so many trails in our Luchon back yard that need to be discovered and rediscovered, Ian, our Cotics and I have decided to return to Portugal for a month in March to celebrate my birthday (5th March, 5th march, 5th march....just in case you all forget J ) and to return to the trails that set me up for life in more ways than one.

My ever faithful Cotic Soda wasn’t born at this time, but it was this first mountain bike experience that paved the way to our destined union, in fact that trip paved the way to the birth of AQR Holidays and of course me becoming a Potter! YAY!!

So if you want to join us Potters in the sunny Algarve and test a Cotic bike then let me know, especially all you lady bikers out there who love adventure and find your lovely lads occasionally slow you down.....oooh I’m going to get a big blog bashing now J

Don’t worry all’s fair in love and war....ooh a thought....with both Potters guiding we can give you lads options if you find we women have too much energy for you J I really am going to cop it now....but that does not mean Mr P deserves any hero status for putting up with me!
Cheerios for now

A Quick Release Holidays
Tel: 0845 1304824


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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

STEP BY STEP.....learning the art of patience.

Well the last AQR guiding week of the Summer season has finished, but there is no time for our own Potter holiday in Luchon, no sirree!!! Although the legs are having a little bit of time off the bike, well Ian's legs are....he has decided that the next two weeks it's time for him to learn the art of patience before the Autumn and Winter guiding weeks commence.
Ian is building the Potters a staircase....not just a little staircase....we Potters don't do simple.....no we are, or rather Ian is (I have been banned from the house) building a double decker spiral staircase. It's a barrel of laughs at the moment in the Potter household as Ian overdoses on coffee and I try not to fall off the ladders that join each floor.....not great for someone who suffers mild vertigo :)
Anyway the bikes have taken over the lounge and to wash the dishes I have to climb over a huge piece of wood, and the whole downstairs area is a little bit of an obstacle course at the moment with tools and machinery everywhere....BUT it's all part of the Potter adventures. If only the weather wasn't so brilliant right now as I have to sneak in little training rides so as not to upset Mr P who I know is missing the trails terribly :( 
BUT on the plus we are going to be guiding in November, so the count down is on to return to work and get Ian's guiding hat back on so he can smile again :)

A Quick Release Holidays
Tel: 0845 1304824


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Sunday, October 10, 2010


They say a picture says a 1000 words.....well if this weather keeps up I won't have time to type in usual KP endurance length style....I will just have to keep adding pics along the way.
Ian and I have been AQR guiding nearly every week since we returned from the World Champs in Canada. I have always loved Autumn out here in Luchon, well to tell you the truth I say that about all the seasons...yes I'm a complusive liar when it comes to my thoughts on the weather because I love all conditions (even the mud believe it or not). Every weather condition and seasonal change offers different challenges to those mountain bikers who ride all year round, that be us Mr Potter on our faithful Cotic steeds, no time to stop there are too many exciting trails to ride or splatter yourself on.....yippeee!!!!!.....If you open your ears you might just hear Mr P crying out for help in the far off Pyrenean mountainside.
Poor Ian was relieved when I started feeling better again, but unfortunately my energy levels have skyrocketed and keep on improving (much to my grin factor), but much to the change in Ian's forehead frown line which is deepening on a daily basis.
When I grew up in Sydney I missed out on such defined seasonal changes like you have here in Europe. In Oz you have the choice of dry, warm, stinking hot, humid days, with the occasional wet breezy day thrown in every now and then. Now my life in the Pyrenean mountains consists of 4 seasonal variations depending on the time of year....
I love Winter here in Luchon because the snow on the mountain peaks are simply magical. If I want to ride in the snow I can, but if not there are still plenty of trails that are dry and ready to roll on with white capped mountain top views all the way up, and little glimpses of the snowy mountains every now and then on the way down. 
Then Spring warmth hits the area in April and suddenly the mountains turn varying shades of green and all the magical crisp colours of Spring return, as well as the baby animals that you often see or hear within the trees.
Summer is another favourite because it is finally hot enough to sit back in the river that winds through the valley as the glacial waters promote healing power to one's overused legs, but also the trails within the trees offer an escape from the sun's rays as the temperature drops the higher you climb and the mountain thermals create a cooling effect all over.
Now for AUTUMN, I'm excited about Autumn because I'm in the midst of it right now and boy has it been a wonderful season in Luchon so far. The trees are turning a sparkling golden colour and the trails are soooooooooooooo empty, besides those red squirrels skipping about and Pyrenean birds hovering overhead.....oh and those AQR tyres flying by as we Potters have been hitting the trails with full force as we are still guiding and loving every moment of our long days in the saddle.
I'm so happy to be back in the guiding seat. Every day is filled with biking high adventure and descents that go on and on and on..... Even though I know this area well, I still don't get bored or even disapointed when one season ends and the next begins. So as I tell Mr Potter we must make the most of the mountains every minute we can....no time to sleep as I say......
.....So the other day on our only day off from guiding I dragged Ian out for a day long hike up to the Porte de Venasque from Hospice de France. It was spectacular! Although my husband could try and show a little happiness with some facial changes every now and then because he always looks in pain for some reason?!?
Anyway I must dash as there are trails calling my name....enjoy Autumn wherever you are in Europe....I know I am :)

A Quick Release Holidays
Tel: 0845 1304824


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