Video: Triathlon Training

Here’s a video I made on the triathlon club Racing795 talking about their training regimes and events planned for the summer.

Starring: Orla O’Leary, Joy Furlong and Lorraine Byrne

Music by: Heathers – Circular Road

Check out Racing 795′s website here.

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Interview with Adventurer Katie Spotz – the youngest person to row solo across the Atlantic

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1.If you couldn’t raise money for charities when doing these expeditions, would you continue to do them? Basically do you do it for the love of the adventure or is the whole point of it to raise money?

Adventure and supporting water charities are both deep passions of mine and I learned that there was a way to combine both passions. Some of my smaller-scale events have been purely for the love of adventure while I have also launched several campaigns purely to support charities without the adventure component.

 

2.You were the youngest person to row solo across the Atlantic.  What made you come up with that idea and commit to it?

The idea found me when I least expected. I was on a bus in Australia and the person sitting next to me mentioned that his friend had rowed across the Atlantic Ocean. I was so intrigued by the raw and elemental nature of the challenge being so far removed from the known. I had no rowing or boating experience but after completing other endurance challenges is gave me the courage to pursue it.

 

3.How much experience did you have rowing before you did it?

After learning about ocean rowing I joined my college rowing team for about a year and then spent lots of time training on my boat on Lake Erie. I also spent some time in California training on the Pacific Ocean.

 

 

4. Things got tough during the 2,817 mile journey; the cable that allowed you to steer with your foot broke and your GPS tracker caught fire. How did you keep yourself going when things got tough?

I had to taking things one step at a time. If I thought too far in the future I would get overwhelmed but even the biggest challenges in life can be faced one day or one moment at a time.

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5.How did your parents deal with it all when you told them you were going off exploring?

It was tough. They were as supportive as they could be but inevitably would prefer me to be safe at home. They understand that it’s in my nature to explore and have accepted that from time to time I venture off. It means a lot to me to have them part of the adventures. They’ve been there to cheer me on whether it be sending me off on my cycle across America or meeting me in South America to celebrate the Atlantic crossing.

 

6.How did you keep your energy levels up throughout the row?

The sleep deprivation was brutal. I would not be able to sleep more than a couple of hours because of the crashing waves against my boat. Music was one tool I used to pump up my energy as well as consuming a diet that matched the amount of energy I exerted.

 

7.At 19, you embarked on a cross-country cycle. Where is your fear?!

Whenever you do something that challenges you, there is always the risk that you won’t succeed. What has really helped me in finding the courage to embark on these journeys is not being afraid to fail. The only real failure is failing to try.

 

8.How long did it take you to plan the expedition?

My first cross-country expedition was with a charity called the American Lung Association. Most of the logistics were handled by the event organizers so it took me a few months to pull together the fundraising and training.
9.How many miles did you travel?

3,300 miles or about 85 miles per day.

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10.Have you ever encountered any problems as a solo female traveller?

Sometimes there can be unwanted attention directed towards solo female travelers. However the majority of the time people are generally willing to help and are just curious about my travels.

 

11.You are the only person in history to swim the entire length of the Allegheny River in Pennsylvania. Where do you come up with your ideas for these challenges?

After embarking on a cycling and running adventure I knew I wanted to try a long-distance swim. The Allegheny River one of the closest major rivers from my home in Ohio. I heard about Martin Strel who swam many of the worlds longest rivers including the Amazon and wanted to see what river swimming was all about!


12.So you are a swimmer, rower and cyclist. What else can you do?!
Origami and puzzles.


13.Professional adventurer Is this what you had in mind for a career growing up?

My dream job as a kid was to be a bicycle messenger so it’s close enough.
14.What is next for you?
My focus has shifted from adventure to charity work. I am in the process of founding a nonprofit organization called Schools for Water to motivate and inspire schools in the states to help schools all around the world gain access to safe drinking water. Last year we raised more than $100,000 for water projects and to celebrate we broke a world record for the most people carrying water jugs on their heads. I would love to continue to find fun and exciting ways to get people involved in the cause.

Follow Katies journey via her website  or Twitter page: @KatieSpotz

Interview with Pro Mountainbiker Sonya Looney:

Credit: Sonya Looney

1. What is the difference between a pro women mountain biker and a pro man mountain biker?

There isn’t a huge difference!  The men are usually quite a bit faster, but there are a few pro women who tend to beat up on some of the pro men (not me!)  There are less pro women than pro men.

2.What is it that appeals to you about the sport?

I love that you can get on a trail and ride way out into the middle of nowhere in a relatively short period of time.  You can get places cars can’t go, and places it would take days to hike to!  The adventure and being in the trees is my favourite thing about mountain biking.  Also, with trail riding, it forces you to be present and focus on the moment because you are trying to navigate a trail.  It’s harder to space out and it’s mentally relaxing.  Everything else seems to fall to the wayside and I can just be on the trail.  I love racing because it gives me opportunities to ride different places, meet new people, and of course – challenge myself!

3.What has been the highlight of your career so far?

I’ve been so lucky to have a lot of great moments in my career.  The coolest thing I’ve done is the Yak Attack Stage Race in Nepal – a 10 day race across the Himalaya that I was the first woman to ever finish!  Racing Marathon World Championships in my USA kit, winning a couple of 24 Nats titles, and winning the Breck Epic twice have been really huge for me too.  I’m excited about future growth and adventure in my career. I’ve really been pushing myself the last couple years to think outside the box and try races that are considered to be the “hardest” in the world, and in exotic places!

4.How many bikes you have and what are they?

Oh wow, lots!!  I have 2 road bikes, a CX bike, 2 Canyon mountain bikes, a Misfit SS(it’s new!), a beater bike for a commuter, and a Canyon 6inch trail bike.  Next, I want to get a fat bike!  The Surly Moonlander looks sweeeeet!

5.Which is your favourite one?

Right now?  My 29er Canyon HT…I am dying to get a 4” 29er full suspension.  I should have one this year!

Credit: Sonya Looney

6.What do you find is the best brand for gear?

It depends on what you want to use it for!  I am really excited about my Primal sponsorship this year because they not only make great clothing that fits me (think women specific), but they are involved with a lot of events I go to and really give back to the community.  I love my Hestra winter riding gloves!  I’m also a fan of Maloja (I don’t own any yet, but I always admire it) and Capo for clothing.

7.Where is your primary spot to train?

In the summer, I head up to Summit County as much as I can and ride CO Trail sections around Breck.  I live in Boulder, CO and most of my go-to rides are dirt road climbs are 1-2 hours in length, or trails up the mountain!

8. What are next big competitions coming up on the calendar for you?

This is going to be a big year!  I’m so excited at the opportunity!  I just won the first mountain bike race across Haiti called the MTB Ayiti Ascent Stage Race.  I’m heading back to race the Yak Attack in Nepal for my second time in a couple weeks!  After that, I’m looking at a few one day events like Whiskey 50, Breck 100, Pisgah 111K, and Leadville… which will revolve around the Transylvania Epic, 3 day Breck Epic, and one of the  most exciting – Mongolia Bike Challenge at the end of my season.  It’s going to be a huge year for me, it’s hard to believe it’s all going to happen!

9.Whats your diet consist of to keep on top form for the season?

I don’t change my diet all that much throughout the year.  My diet consists mostly of fresh foods.  I normally eat granola+berries or oatmeal for breakfast, almond butter sandwiches for lunch, and various veggie/fish/whole grain dishes for dinner that I’ll cook. Throw in some dark chocolate, beer, and Michael David wine for treats and there you have it!

10.Who is your main competition?

Myself!  I try not to focus on my results on who is there.  I try to focus on performing to my best ability and usually the cards fall into place.

Credit: Sonya Looney

11.You have a job as well?! How do you balance both? Is it because there’s no money in women’s mountainbiking?

It is extremely difficult to get paid to ride your bike as a female mountain biker.  I work for Ergon full time doing sales and marketing which involves some weeks sitting at the computer, and some weeks travelling to various spots in the USA to do dealer visits.  Additionally, I work as a freelance journalist with about 5 different magazines I contribute to.  I stay very busy!  It’s all about time management.  I sit down at the beginning of the week and schedule everything including my training to make sure it all happens.

12.Your favourite distance to race is the 75-100mile range. Why is this?

I like covering more ground because you get to see more!  Also, it doesn’t cost you the race if you make a mistake or have a mechanical.  I also simply love just riding my bike, so the longer I get to ride, the better!  I love the challenge.  I always feel like it’s over too fast if I do a shorter event and want more.

13.How does it feel to represent your country in your sport?

It’s a great honour to wear the USA jersey!  It’s something I never imagined doing, and something I will never forget.

14.How do men in the sport treat you?

They are actually really great –fun and encouraging for the most part. I love kicking their ass too. ;)   They also keep me humble.  I ride with a lot of pro guys and am constantly getting dropped.  Sometimes it really messes with my confidence, but on race day it’s always, “Oh, I’m not as slow as I thought I was!”  That’s a good thing!

15. How did you go from it been a hobby to you turning pro?

I just sort of raced into it.  I find that if you work hard and have a vision, things work out.

16.What do we need to do to grow the sport?

Our sport is actually growing rapidly.  The racing scene maybe not as much. I think lower entry fees and fun, challenging courses with a festival atmosphere are key!

Credit: Sonya Looney

Follow Sonya’s Adventures:

Website: www.sonyalooney.com

Twitter: @looneysonya

FRESH NADAL SERVES UP THE GOODS

Rafael Nadal, Indian Wells

The fourth match point. Del Potro’s ball bounces wide. Nadal slides onto his back. His arms pierce the air. He has just won one of the biggest hard-court tournaments in tennis. He is back. Nadal, the new comeback King.

The Spaniard defeats Juan Martin del Potro in the final of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. A game that ended with a score-line of 4-6 6-3 6-4. It is the 25 year olds first hard-court tournament since his return from injury in February. The match began in Del Potro’s favour and the audience witnessed an off form Nadal for the first set, raising doubts over his knee injury and his comeback. The Argentine went up 5-4 and claimed the first set in 54 minutes. Del Potro squeezed Rafa deep into the corner but he fought back.

It took until the second game of the second set for the Spaniard to relax and then signs of the old Nadal began to emerge in all his former glory. An aggressive play began, that reeled the audience back in. A succession of big forehands saw him take back five games in a row. Nadal’s famous left-hand was just too powerful for Del Potros signature inside-out forehand that placed the ball right into the Spaniards comfort zone every time.

For two and a half hours the two players bounced on their toes opposite each other. The fifth seed versus the seventh seed. One had beaten Murray and Federer to be here. The other had defeated Berdych. Now they dance. A brilliant final touch from Del Potro that caught Nadal off guard may well of been the play of the game but it was not enough to tame the Spaniard in the 600th match of his career. “When you have one comeback like I’m having you remember all the low things, lower moments that you had during this seven months, doubts and all these things,” he said. “The doubt when and where you will be able to be back on a tennis tournament is hard.”

But comeback he did, aggression, drive and determination saw Nadal fall to his knees in victory. The 11- time Grand Slam Champion picked up some more titles and records to tie to his name today; a record 22nd Masters title, 14 straight match wins, a move up the rankings to No. 4 a third Indian Wells title, an 123-mph ace and his 53rd career singles title. “Seriously, it’s impossible to have better comeback, no?” says Nadal beaming.

He will skip the Sony Open in Miami next week while he rests his left leg but will return to the clay in Monte Carlo as he begins on the road to winning his eight French Open title. The King of Clay is back, and it seems he can play hard-court too.  Let the ATP Masters 1000th season commence.

Britain gets great haul of cycling medals

Success at the UCI Track World Championships as young riders shine

Published in the Edinburgh Journal newspaper 6 March.

Credit: British Cycling
Credit: British Cycling

Great Britain are brimming with confidence in their form for the start of this seasons Track Cycling events, convincingly topping the medals table in Belarus.

Performance director Dave Brailsford can accept more plaudits for this result as he continues churning out the champions. The man behind the scenes has been transforming Great Britain from an island defined by football and the Premiership into a cycling powerhouse. First Team Sky, then the Olympic cycling performances, followed by Tiernan-Locke and his Tour of Britain win. Last week, Brailsford revealed a shiny new crew of track cyclists that took home nine medals and five world titles from the UCI Track World Championships in Minsk, Belarus.

The event in Minsk was the first on the long road to the Olympics in Rio in 2016 while there were encouraging starts for Team GB’s main rivals Australia and Germany who also performed. Leading the procession for the UK was 21-year-old Becky James, a newly crowned double world champion (keirin and individual sprint) and owner of two bronze medals from the 500m time-trial and team sprint.

The young British squad of men and women racked up the results over the five-day track competition. Victoria Williamson won bronze with teammate Becky James in the team sprint, Elinor Barker, Dani King and Laura Trott took gold in the team pursuit and Trott also secured a silver in the omnium. In the men’s competition, Jason Kenny won gold in keirin, Simon Yates triumphed in the points race world championship while Burke, Clancy, Harrison and Tennant together won silver in the team pursuit.

The competition revealed just how strong Great Britain is looking and is being touted as a harbinger for Rio 2016. The stunning female performances that saw each of the five British women at the world championships bring back a medal will encourage a leap in the right direction in the struggle to increase support and sponsorship among female competitors. It seems Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton will not be missed as much as was first thought as the next generation of young track riders step up to take their place. Neighbours Ireland won a gold and silver at the event, making rider Martin Irvine the first Irishman to win a World Track Championship gold in 117 years.

Next year’s World Championship will be held in Colombia, where the world can see if Great Britain can retain their titles as the countdown continues towards the next Olympics.

Interview with Mountaineer Ed Farrelly

Ed is a 20-year old mountaineer who has climbed some of the biggest peaks in the world, while still managing to pass his exams at university. What can I say, some of us just walk in the light. 😉

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1.You say you are an Adventure traveller, what does that entail?

My adventure travelling has been focused mainly around mountaineering. Mountaineering expeditions have taken me well off the beaten track to far flung corners of the earth and have normally involved weird and wonderful modes of transport along the way.

2.How did you get your first sponsorship deal?

It came about after I became the youngest person to climb Baruntse (7129m), Nepal, aged 18. It’s when people realised I was serious about the whole thing, although I must say on the whole I am strongly against the idea of climbing mountains for records!

3.You are only twenty years old, do you study on the side or are you a full time mountaineer?

I study full time at the University of York and fit mountaineering into my holidays of which I have plenty! Most of my recent expeditions have fitted around summer holidays, which is the wrong season for a lot of popular high altitude areas. Weirdly it’s perfect for me because I prefer to be climbing off the tourist trail hence my last expedition to Kyrgyzstan.

4.What does your mother think of your lifestyle?

I think she’s happy that I’m happy, although she does sometimes get anxious before I leave on expedition- that’s to be expected I guess.

5.How did you afford to travel and climb and buy the gear before you got sponsored?

Before I was sponsored I did most of my mountaineering in the UK and only a few trips to the Alps so I kept the cost down. Also during my teens rather than head off to Zante or Ibiza I spent my cash on climbing gear and trips- I guess it’s where your priorities are.

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6.Have you climbed solo before or do you mostly go in teams?

I have never been on a mountaineering expedition solo, it’s a totally different challenge to that faced when you’re part of a team. It’s a lot more of a mental game and also far more dangerous. That said I do have my eye on going back to Khan Tengri (7010m- Kyrgyzstan) and attempting it solo but only when I feel ready!

7.Is  fear ever an issue for you?

I often get nerves before a climbing day begins. I think that’s healthy though because it means you realise what you’re doing is serious and not to be taken lightly. I don’t think I’d want to climb with someone who never got anxious, that smells of recklessness.

8. What is the longest you have been out on an expedition?

A couple of months- it wasn’t a mountaineering expedition rather a car race from London to Mongolia followed by the Trans-Siberian railway and then backpacking around Scandinavia. It was awesome!

9.Do you ever feel like you are missing out on the ‘traditional’ student life?

Not really, I fit my expeditions into the holidays and whilst I’m at uni I live pretty much as a student- I drink too much, smoke and don’t do enough exercise. It’s only when I’m in the final few months leading up to an expedition that I really kick into gear.

10.What is it that keeps you going  back to the mountains?

That moment when you unzip the tent look up and think blimey, what an honour it is to be able to here trying to climb that thing.

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11. Can you describe the feeling of frostbite for those of us who haven’t had the pleasure?

It’s pretty nasty; there is an intense throbbing as the blood tries to push its way back into the dying tissue. You know that if you could feel a lot of what’s going on in the infected tissue it would be agony but you just can’t- that’s the craziest thing about it.

12. How did you get so confident at public speaking?

I have no idea, I don’t think I am confident to be honest! Like anything it becomes easier with practise, it also helps when you have something to talk about and feel confident that people want to hear what you have to say.

13.Favourite place to climb?

Kyrgyzstan hands down. The unsupported nature of the expeditions, the sheer remoteness and beauty of the place stand it apart from anywhere else I’ve been.

14. Most important piece of equipment?

Probably sunglasses, they pretty much never leave my head and without which would make me snow blind very quickly. Underestimated in the mountaineers gear arsenal.

15.Plans for the next few years on and off the mountains?

Multi-discipline driving expedition from London to Cape Town, I will be climbing/mountaineering and paragliding/skiing/rafting along the way- It is going to be an epic challenge!

Solo expedition to Khan Tengri (7010m, Kyrgyzstan)

Para-alpinist expedition to Ama Dablam (6812m, Nepal)

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16. What are the most impressive mountains you have climbed?

I guess I would have to say Khan Tengri (7010m, Kyrgzystan) despite the fact I didn’t summit. The mountain is very technical and the expedition was unsupported. Also Baruntse (7129m) was pretty tough considering my age and relative lack of experience.

17. What brand do you think offers the best quality mountaineering gear?

Hmmm It’s hard to say, it depends what you’re after because everything has a price and usually there is a correlation between the two i.e. the more expensive, the better quality.

18. What does the UK have to offer the mountaineering folk worldwide?

Absolutely loads, Scotland has some of the harshest weather and toughest winter mountaineering in the world. Also a lot of the stuff here is cheap, accessible and beginner friendly. People in general become to worked up about heading off to the Alps when actually they could be better served here.

Follow Ed on Twitter: @edfarrelly or via his website.

Armstrong’s confession disappoints

With his brand in tatters, Lance Armstrong’s chance to redeem himself missed the mark.

Published in the Edinburgh Journal 20 Jan 2013.

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It’s all a game, the further you venture, the  deeper you fall,  the harder it is to pull a U-turn and tell the real truth. Armstrong was particularly gifted at this game. He shouted the loudest, he sued the most, threatened and mocked the doubters, ruined lives, dished out bribes and one by one he brought them down. The game has reached a precipice, but either route pursued this game is far from over. With a partial confession on Thursday nights interview with Oprah, disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong kept up the façade and played on. From hero to villain, his reign has come to an end in spectacular fashion.

For all its build up the two-part interview did disappoint. Instead of a heartfelt apology, the audience got what appeared to be a carefully choreographed delivery. He did confess to doping but no names were named, no mention of LeMond, Bruyneel, Kimmage etc. A hesitant apology to David Walsh and Emma O’Reilly. A ‘no comment’ on Betsy Andreu. Some more denials; he swears he was clean for his comeback and a rejection of the claim that he paid UCI to make positive tests go away.

There was a certain lack of conviction to his words. He’s lost everything; sponsors, titles, medals, millions of dollars, and his right to compete in sanctioned races. Now backed into a corner, he relents just a little bit with a limited admission of guilt and an ‘I’m sorry’ delivered via Oprah, who is no longer a journalist but a talk show host, who knows nothing of cycling, and who he knows will turn this into an emotional programme with a moral instead of getting down to the nitty gritty and forcing him to face the hard questions that we, the cycling fans want to know the answers to. You follow a sport your whole life and in one of the biggest moments in it, you’re forced to get up at 2am in the morning on two consecutive nights to watch two episodes of the Oprah Winfrey Show. Armstrong, in yet another marketing stunt tried to appeal to our emotions, forgetting that although he is charismatic and we have always admired him, he has never been a particularly likeable character and this time no amount of PR is going to convince us otherwise.

This is an athlete that even the girly girls – whose only interest in sport lies in commenting on how fit  footballers are – have heard of . In hindsight it all seems laughable now, the toughest most brutal race in the world and he won it seven times. An apparently impossible task riding only on bread and water. But people love an inspirational story and this was the cream of the crop. He knew how to play the audience time and time again, and we followed along mutely, tongues lolling from our mouths, drooling over the fairytale. Now, the Armstrong brand is dissipating in his hands. The cancer survivor, that went on to dominate the world of cycling. When all along, behind closed hotel doors, stood Ferrari, painted as a creepy medieval doctor, performing blood transfusions and dishing out white lunch bags full of goodies. “That is a guy who felt invincible, he was told he was invincible. He truly believed he was invincible,” says Armstrong of himself during the interview.

Armstrong was arrogance personified – the Nike commercial jeering the ones who claimed he was on drugs, the tweet of him laying on his couch surrounded by his seven yellow jerseys. “Fame magnifies whoever you are”  says Oprah during the interview, and Armstrong was not a nice guy, he was a bully. A guy who loved control, and is not used to defeat. You could see it in his eyes and as he fiddled with his hands, he was at a loss without his precious control. If he cooperated with USADA back in May he might only have received a six-month suspension according to ESPN reporter  T.J. Quinn.  But to him it never felt like cheating, just a ‘level playing field.’ He says only now is he beginning to see outside his bubble; “I am beginning to understand that. I see the anger in people. They have every right to feel betrayed.”

He was the man who epitomised the American Dream and now faces the nightmare. He yearns to compete again and thinks he deserves to be allowed. He faces the death penalty, a lifetime ban on competing. Armstrong needs to learn it is not all about winning and he needs to step away from all sport for a while to allow it to heal. If he can’t do that for cycling than I fear he is not really sorry and his words are once again, empty.

Murray into the Third Round of the Australian Open.

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Andy Murray advances into the third round of the Australian Open after taking an easy win in his second game, beating Joao Sousa of Portugal 6-2, 6-2, 6-4.The third-seed defeated Netherlands Robin Haase in the first round with a similar scoreline of 6-3, 6-1, 6-3. The Grand Slam matches are the Scots first since the US Open thriller last year when he took down Djokovic in the final after five hours on the court, in a game that cemented his name amongst the greats.  It has been 76-years since a British man has been a Grand Slam singles champion. A match which took Murray from been the little boy caught in the big leagues to a hero.

Britain’s number two and fellow Scot Jamie Baker was knocked out in the first round after a 7-6 7-5 6-2 defeat to Lukas Rosol, the player who beat Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon last year. The scorching weather seems to be the only factor slowing the Olympic gold medallist, lucky for him he is Scottish and they are a tough bunch. Since the appointment of his coach Lendl the world has seen a new Murray take to the field. One that is in control and knows how to utilise his strengths. If Murray can win the Australian Open, it will make him the only male player to follow up a first Grand Slam title with another. Though he has some competition to face before then, as he is drawn in the same category as Federer and could face his ‘rival’ Djokovic in what could be a marathon of a replay of the US Open final. This is the new Murray, less whine, more hunger.

He faces  Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis in Round three tomorrow.

A Snowboarder’s World

Clotted blood decorates my nose and mouth. It is beginning to morph into an ugly shade of yellow. The scabs have arrived. My thighs and arms host a pattern of bruises. It will hurt to sit for a while. I look like shite, like I’ve been tossed off a bridge or fought in an unlicensed bare-knuckle fight. Yet for some reason, I do not care. I am utterly content in my dishevelment. I am free.

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If you have no fear, I am convinced you can do anything. The world is out there waiting. Only you control the lever that can catapult you into adventure. For it is the very one, that untouched will keep you right where you are, sitting on your couch still in your pyjamas at midday, staring at screens. If you do not discover something about yourself while carving down a mountain in the Alps on a plank of wood then you may pack it in and go back to your couch. But I suggest you try it first.

The alarm crows at eight am everyday;  first lift. Automatically whack snooze. The realisation hits, you are in the Alps. Drag your lazy ass and foggy head up, into the shower and out the double doors, over the balcony. Touchdown in Nirvana.

Surviving on a diet of Pringle laden white bread rolls, helped down with Coke or blue Powerade.  Every night with a theme; unleash the beast, military, pimps and hoes…. Every day has a game, chug a beer on the chairlift, do a run with your pants down. We are like dogs who have been on a chain for far too long and now we have been unleashed. Chaotic, mad brilliance must ensue. The thump, thump of the boombox that is the soundtrack to your week away from reality. Sliding down a mountainside, laughing deliriously. You are invincible.

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I rode a chairlift, I went fast, real fast. I felt the tang of adrenaline taint my tongue. I laughed out loud with no one else around, I fell, I got back up, possibly flashing everyone behind me. I drank, I danced, I ‘boarded’ down a slope full to the guts of mulled wine and I met people with some incredible stories to share and ensnare me with. I got a glimpse of how good life can be and I will not be going back to how it was when you forget and fall back into routine. I ran head first into the lifestyle I have been chasing blindly for many years and already it is so better than in my dreams.