Sunday, 29 March 2015

Stuck in a Rut

Mike's birthday AGAIN. In the bar of the Balavil. AGAIN

Beer festival. AGAIN
Too much beer. AGAIN
Dinner at the Glen. AGAIN....
A couple of weeks previously Mike had pointed out that we really should stay in the same hotel, eat at the same pub and do exactly the same activities as we do every year at Newtonmore as we should never venture out of the security of our comfortable rut, after all, who knows what terrible misadventure should befall us if we did?.
The rot, however, had already set in when no pasta party was advertised thus signalling that we were about to be forced out of our rut....
In a break from normality Geoff, Bert and Hamish were daft enough to listen to my latest great idea (Hamish, if anyone should know better) which was a hill walk proposed for the Sunday afternoon.

11 miles
2776ft climb
First problem was that we had been lulled into a false sense of security with a nice warm vest-only race the previous day and so the biting wind at the top of the hill was a bit of a shock, however conditions were clear which was probably a good thing as I was doing the navigating and the views were stunning. The walk out from Kingussie followed some woodland trails along the river and then a narrow tarmac road past the golf course before reaching the track at Pitmain Lodge. The route up Carn an Fhreiceadain, a Corbett of 2880ft follows a circular path and so the fact that the bridge forming part of our return route was in a state of disrepair was boldly ignored and consigned to being a problem for later that day (we will cross that bridge when we come to it….boom, boom!!) and we started the gradual ascent to the summit. This is one walk where the need for navigation is minimal as there is a wide gravel track the whole way round which we later established was due to the building of a small hydroelectric scheme on the mountain and we followed the path as it gradually ascended to the cairn on Beinn Bhreac where it was noticeably colder. 
Even climbing a mountain Bert can't bear to be separated from Facebook

Intrepid Hamish crosses the snowfield

It was a tad chilly on the hill
From here the route across to the summit and trig point of Carn an Fhreiceadain was very exposed to the wind and I began to lose the feeling in my fingers. Bert was clearly finding the same as his desperate attempts to take photos of the white ptarmigan and mountain hares seemed to result in some swearing however it was very amusing to watch the mountain hares dart about in front of us with Bert in hot pursuit clutching a camera. Luckily for me one mountain hare decided to sit in the ditch right next to the path and pose for its photo rather than resort to their usual tactic of hiding on a patch of snow and relying on their camouflage.
The obligatory summit photo
Mountain hare
We didn’t hang around for too long to admire the view, stunning though it was and trotted off down the path after the obligatory summit photos following the track right back down to the less than secure looking bridge over the river. Fortunately it was far more sturdy than it looked and we all made it across completely dry. 
Not at the end of winter quite yet
The day was finished at the mountain sports café in Aviemore where my greatest achievement of the day was not spending any money on yet more outdoors gear. I thought that I showed great restraint.

This wee jaunt was the “warm down” after the hangover mile in the morning which in itself is the “warm down” from the previous days 10 mile race and beer festival. The hangover mile really is as bad as it sounds and generally involves a lot of adults lining up at 9am on a Sunday morning looking like death warmed up ready to be out sprinted by small children and the real athletes, one of whom I heard confessing that she had allowed herself a glass of rose the night before. FFS. Personally I think anyone without a hangover should be disqualified and that should eliminate this ritual of humiliation every year where the lynx pack runners always show up over qualified for the event. I won a bottle of beer in the race but I’ve no idea what for, I was barely conscious at the time.
Check out those red eyes
And they're off!
John ran round wearing his wooly jumper!
There’s not much for me to say about the lack lustre effort that was my attempt at the 10 mile race other than it was a lovely day and I got mild sunburn, the tea and cakes afterwards were great as was the swim and the beer festival. My legs were pretty much stuck in second gear the whole way round and had no answer for the two who over took me in that last 2 miles. Bert and Geoff up ahead had a full scale battle on their hands trying not to be beaten by a giant banana. Yes, Really. To be fair though it was a pretty quick banana. It seemed to be a fairly successful day on the whole though as Cath, Megan and I picked up a team prize, Mike bounced back from illness and Innes set the groundwork in place for the Barathon later in the year. It is at this point I must mention the dark devious skull duggery that went on which allowed the person who came 2nd in the O/60s age category to take the 1st prize. I'm naming no names though....
It was a lovely spring day
After the race there was the usual fantastic post race spread of food and if that wasn’t enough we all went in search of the coffee shop on Newtonmore high street to sit, munch cakes, and watch lazily out of the window in the early spring sunshine. Maybe being stuck in a rut isn’t all bad….

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