Well the Potters are finally back in Luchon. I must admit after 10 plus years of travelling all over the world I finally know that Luchon, here in the stunning French Pyrenees is truly my home. The saying 'home is where the heart is', has been missing from my vocabulary for a long time. When I was 22 years old I left my family home in Oz, ended up in the UK longer than I expected to and took myself off on a whirl wind tour of too many European countries to list right now, plus South Africa, America and Canada....where race courses and bike guiding destinations enabled me to see the world from a very different view. I have tasted several varieties of mud and experienced rocks in many different descriptions that perhaps I should become a geologist later in life...or a specialist in bruising as I know from experience which rocks hurt more than others
I never thought I would grow so attached to one place, a small place compared to the wider world, but a place that we Potters are still exploring both on the bike and on foot as we discover even more disused trails and mountain peaks that look down on us. Luchon offers every cyclist a unique experience no matter how many times one returns here...even our tarmac adventures take us to breathtaking mountain views without any noise except the sound of our lungs singing along (or should I say gasping) to beat the other Potter up the next col.
I used to look forward to holidays and travelling, but now I must admit the same feelings no longer exists except when I'm away from Luchon and count the days until I return home. I'm very fortunate to live in Single Track Heaven, or as I call it my Pyrenean Potter Paradise.
So looking back at the aftermath of the Exposure UK and European 24hr Solo Championships....
After any race there can be alot of highs and lows, but racing for 24hrs by yourself can be very different. From my experience 24hr racing has a consequence....this could be in the form of illness, on going fatigue, frustration when your power and heart rate refuse to climb, or general apathy on and off the bike. It takes time to return to a balanced state and as everybody recovers differently you cannot say how long it will take until YOU are back to full racing form. You have to remember that every part of you from your cells and internal organs to your brain worked hard for 24hrs and it's not just your legs and backside that need time to recover. If your heart rate is not rising, perhpas your heart needs some chill time too? It can be easy to start training too soon and get carried away because you think training hard is the only way you will find your racing legs again.
From past experiences I know I have been lucky in the health department and have never experienced any illness post 24hr solo race, but I knew racing this year I had to be careful because I know my body is still not back to where it was 2 years ago. I also knew that my recovery would be hampered due to travelling to Italy not long after the race and then back to Luchon, which in hind sight was not a wise decision as we both find travel stressful and I had to put up with Mr Potter croaking and coughing at anyone who dare drive in the middle lane when not overtaking.
When we finally arrived back in Luchon and started breathing fresh mountain air and drinking Luchon's best water from the mountain lakes it's amazing how quickly we both started to regain strength. I hardly touched a bike for 3 weeks, and when I did it was when I was coaching in the UK and mostly riding at a steady pace. Now I'm back in the mountains and I have started hiking again and although the pace is gentle compared to where I was over a month a go I can feel the body craving more. This weekend Ian and I are guiding and I'm very excited about my first full day back on the trails..the energy and excitement to ride a bike has returned!!!
Now I have to decide whether I race at Mountain Mayhem or not???? This is a dififcult decision as I know I'm not quite back to where I want to be, but I love racing in the UK and I would like to see my Magura friends as I know Florian is going to be there, plus the Cotic-AQR Racing Team will be too. However the lure of the mountains is also taking hold of me and a little puppy called Marley who has not let me out of his sight since I returned home is also tipping the scales for a home stay in Luchon. I also know there is a race here in Luchon that weekend which is only half a day rather than 24hrs in the day...PLUS it is a triathalon...not your traditional swim, cycle, running event...but rather HIKE, MTB...and if you are brave a PARAPENTE down to the finish line...if you don't know what that is think of wearing a parachute and jumping off a mountainside :)
Well only time will tell what decision I go with...but in the mean time I'm going to make the most of every day here in Luchon and take time to smell the forest and admire the views...LUCHON will never be taken for granted! Home sweet Home!!
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