Monday, 24 July 2017

Two girls, two mountain bikes, three cols and a map

I found myself on top of a mountain, my legs felt like jelly and my mountain bike was splayed out in front of me. I was far away from any human life yet loneliness had escaped my body. I had never been here before yet I had not felt more at home in a place in a long time. The endless views and the dramatic appearance of my surroundings made me feel at peace. An empty head and joy in my heart. This was the life.  This was what the people who were stuck in the fast track of society missed out on. This was what those who stayed in the comfort of their own living room would never experience.

from the first moment we met, adventures flowed
I was in the beautiful mountain range of Les Hautes Alps visiting one of my closest friends, Jantiene Hannessen  
Jantiene very bravely chose for this life style late last year. Where big houses and expensive cars had no meaning. It was the happiest I had seen her since we found each other two and half years ago. Jantiene and I were not only on the same page, we were in the same sentence and as we had struggled through a couple of turbulent years we grew closer. Sometimes you didn't  need years of friendship with someone to understand each other, sometimes a few minutes was enough.

What started as a 9 day training camp for my Hero MTB Himalaya stage race, ended up one of the most magic moments I had ever experienced on a bike. Under the influence of Jantiene's contagious giggle and "lalalala" attitude I went from riding the intervals coach Rab had programmed for me, to not even looking on training peaks anymore. Instead I studied a local map for inspiration.  

And so my real adventure began. Where people planned a whole holiday to be able to witness a glimpse of the tour the France, I ended up "stuck" in the tour hype, accidently picking a ride that day which included an out and back over the Col the Galibier.

since it was the thing to do I took a picture of Froome
Where people spent a recovery day on the couch, I swam 2kms in an almost surreal alpine setting and followed Jantiene on my MTB whilst she run in preparation for her insane Ironman called the Embruman.

The real icing on the cake was our two day MTB expedition through the mountain range surrounding what Jantiene was blessed enough to call her home. Within half an hour of our departure we already managed to lose each other on a descent and kill a front tyre in the process. In a typical "us" manner this got laughed away with a short stop at a bike shop. Charming the mechanic into helping us before leaving civilization behind. What a treat this little expedition was. There were moments of utter silence and hours of giggling story telling. There were endless climbs over cols and furious descends into deserted valleys. There was a hut next to a river only known by locals and a night spent listening to the thunderstorms outside. There was a first by Jantiene making a fire and a dinner which included soup, marshmallows and chocolate. There were shared life experiences, told deep into the night.
Killing the front tyre

our 5 star hotel for the night with running rivers and candle lights

There were marmots playing in the early morning sun and an encounter with a red fox who looked as if it escaped out of a Disney movie. And as our bodies were slowly fading riding col after col after col, our smiles became bigger and our souls richer. I realised that this was something no race could ever mimic, no win could ever live up to. No achievement could ever beat. This was something where everything came together, heart, body and soul without having any purpose other than just the simple lightness of being.

And as we rolled into Jantiene's garden after a couple of days of pure magic she turns at me with a huge smile and asks me "What's next?"

                                        "Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale" Hans Christian Anderson

The un known mountain hut

Hours long furious descents

There are never too many cols to climb

A moment of silence

Crossing rivers over lonely bridges

The hearts content