I Went Climbing
28th Jun 2013
Wednesday turned out to be a pretty good day. Fairly last minute baby sitter (seems a little demeaning to still refer to looking after a 4 and a 7 year old as babysitting, but that’s the convention) meant I could buzz down to Chatsworth Farm Shop and blow my Christmas and Birthday vouchers on a slap-up picnic tea. Threw some swimming kit and – shock horror – some climbing kit into the back of the car and headed over to Hope Wakes Fell Race. Kids fun run there and plenty of fun games thanks to Village Games. Left the boys with their uncle (thanks Ben!) and headed up to Millstone. It was a bit of a shock to hear Soph say that she couldn’t actually remember the last time that we climbed together. She reckoned it was before Bryn was born – Bicycle Repair Man at Staden Quarry. How did that happen? I’d still define myself as a climber, and I think I always will. I remember the last time I climbed – it was a birthday boulder on Nov 22nd at The Works last year. I can’t put my finger on why it’s slipped so far. It’s a combination of factors – running and biking seem a lot more fun at the moment. I’ve had a shoulder injury – ironically picked up whilst larking about in the snow at Stanage back in March! I think that living in the same place for 16 years means that I’ve done many of the climbs that appeal to me and have to search further afield for new stuff. I think there’s something else though. And it’s being highlighted by a piece of software called Strava. I remember the last couple of years of regular climbing, when I would be out two or three times a week (about how often I am biking and running); I would challenge myself to make sure that I always pushed myself in some shape or form on every trip, in an attempt to get fitter, stronger and better. It’s a difficult thing to do when climbing, but it’s a natural thing to do when running and biking. I went out for a blast last night on the road bike. I was out for an hour and a quarter, and barely stopped pedalling the whole time. I arrive back home and Soph said “you look ill”. But that was the point. I had enjoyed beasting myself. A pint of milk, yoghurt and honey later and I felt a lot better, and knew that I was a little fitter and stronger than I had been before going out. One of the best bits though, is then logging on to Strava, uploading the activity, and comparing to previous rides, and others’ efforts. I’d taken two and a half minutes off my previous best time up the hill to Fox House. This sort of performance related empirical evidence appeals to me. Whilst I wouldn’t want to apply similar measures to climbing I think that it’s a large part of why I’ve steered away from it of late.
Aside from the sun disappearing behind a thin veil of cloud on the horizon the evening was fantastic. We climbed a route. We lounged around on the grass and ate an amazing picnic. We didn’t get midged, and there was nobody else around. One thing I did notice was that I had forgotten just how much time you get to sit and contemplate the world whilst sitting on top of the crag in a beautiful place whilst waiting for your second to come up. It’s true that running and biking alone gives you some head space, but it doesn’t compare to simply sitting still and belaying. It felt almost meditative at times, and is something that I hadn’t realised that I missed so much. I think we’ll be getting the climbing gear out a little more often…