Snow & Rock Freeflo Backcountry Ski Adventure Skills Course with Squash Falconer in Tignes

Last week Floss from Freeflo and I delivered our first Snow & Rock Backcounty Ski Adventure Skills Course and it was a huge success.  We were delighted to be joined by 5 lovely people who arrived on day one with fantastic attitudes, all the right kit and lots of enthusiasm!

Snow & Rock Backcounty Adventure Skills Course
Snow & Rock Backcounty Adventure Skills Course

Taking full advantage on day one of the amazing blue skies and fresh powder the snow gods delivered for us we went straight out into the back country.

Over the course of the week we covered a huge amount; focusing on avalanche safety, terrain selection and navigation early on and working on ski tour & skiing techniques as the course progressed.  With a small group it was very easy to address individual goals and aims and work together to improve and learn.

Snow & Rock Backcounty Adventure Skills Course with Freeflo & Squash Falconer
Snow & Rock Backcounty Adventure Skills Course with Freeflo & Squash Falconer

This is a short video we made during the course that will give you an insight into what we got up to –

We are running a second course in April and in order to make it more accessible we have made it a course fee only – it’s amazing value!

5 day course for £650 which includes a £200 Snow & Rock voucher!!

Here are all the details…

Sunday 16th 23rd April 2017
Course Price £650

Price includes:

  • £200 Snow & Rock in store voucher
  • 5 days elite British back country coaching with FREEFLO
  • Sharing the 5 day Adventure with Adventurer Squash Falconer
  • Avalanche and transceiver workshops
  • Adventure evening with Squash Falconer
  • Video Analysis

What the package doesn’t include:

  • Insurance
  • Equipment
  • Lunch and Drinks on and off the mountain
  • Espace Killy Lift Pass
  • Flights & Transfers
  • Accomodation*

* The accommodation we would like to recommend is with Ski bug – they have a beautiful catered chalet in the heart of Tignes, ensuite bedrooms, large living area, log fire & in chalet sauna.

Ski Ability Intermediate Level:
If you are an off-piste skier with varying success then this course is for you. If you can link turns without traversing, at least 5–10 turns together if not more with reasonable control, style and speed, down the fall line, in most snow types then this adventure is for you.

Training for the trip:
Fitness is paramount for this ski adventure. Good fitness will make the trip more fun and you will get more out of your week! Although the course will be tailored to the group’s ability, it is highly recommended for you to get as fit as possible before you start. You must be able to ski all day if not most of the day from the first lift to the last lift with a couple of short breaks.

Insurance:
Getting specialist travel insurance that covers cancellation, medical and mountain rescue is highly recommended. Make sure it covers skiing off-piste beyond the ski boundary and ski touring with an instructor or guide. Buying a Carte de Neige with your lift pass in resort or online is recommended as will cover any mountain rescue without payment. You can purchase the carte de neige in resort with your lift pass for around €2 euros a day or you can purchase it on line to beat the queues for a year at http://www2.ffs.fr/carteneige . You can also purchase the Carre Neige which is a similar product: www.carreneige.com.

Make sure your insurance covers skiing off piste beyond the ski boundary with an instructor or guide.

The 5 Day Adventure:
This is an off-piste and back country adventure. If the weather doesn’t allow us to ski off-piste we will brush up our technique back on the piste.  This is a course where we will be passing on our experience and skills and where you can learn how to ski and move safely off-piste and most importantly to have fun while skiing.  You also will be inspired and motivated by Adventurer Squash Falconer throughout the week.

Rough Itinerary:
This a rough outline of the 5-day back country adventure itinerary, this is likely to change depending on the weather and the group’s ability & goals.

Night of arrival – Sunday:
Meet the team on Sunday evening and discuss the week ahead, plans and individual goals.

Monday will be a free day to find your skiing legs and acclimatize!

Day 1 Tuesday:
Warm up for skiing & skining! Introduction to the use of avalanche equipment, terrain selection & navigation.
Evening: Avalanche Workshop
Day 2 Wednesday:
Technical Focus how to improve your off-piste skiing, balance and fundamental elements.  Ski Tour.
Evening: Video Analysis
Day 3 Thursday:
Technical Focus skiing on off-piste steeper terrain and variable conditions.  Ski Tour (possible stop at a mountain hut).
Evening: Adventure evening with Squash Falconer
Day 4 Friday:
Technical Focus ski touring/hiking. Ski Tour (possible stop at a mountain hut).
Day 5 Saturday:
Ski tour full day.

Depart Sunday

Kit List- What to bring:
Skis: Ideally an all mountain ski that is around 85-110mm under foot. Anything wider under foot than that is a lot harder to make shorter turns and to influence the ski, especially when we are skiing the bumps amongst the trees.
Boots: If you haven’t got your own boots, a downhill boot without a hike mode is fine or a touring boot.
Skins: Skins for touring.
Gloves: Gloves or mittens are fine. I normally have glove liners as well as it can get cold.
Layers: Lots of thin thermal breathable layers are always good with a waterproof jacket over the top, so you can remove them if you get hot. A buff or snood is always very handy.
Poles: Downhill poles with bigger baskets are fine. Telescopic touring poles are better for touring with.
Goggles: Goggles are a must. Ideally two lenses. If you can make sure you have a yellow goggle lens or a lens which you can put in your goggles in case of bad weather and poor visibility this will makes a huge difference.
Sunglasses: A big yes for the sunny days.
Helmet: A helmet is paramount.
Backpack: If you have a comfortable backpack 25-35 litres, please can you bring it. If you have an ABS bag please bring it as it is great for off-piste but can be heavy for touring.
Avalanche Gear: If you do have a pack, shovel, probe and transceiver (digital) please bring them. If not, you can rent them in resort. ABS bag is recommended.
Water bottle, flask and snacks: Nuts, dried fruit and energy bars are always handy for slow release energy instead of chocolate.
Sun cream: 30+
Beanie: To keep head warm and to cover up helmet hair when having lunch!
Camera/GoPro: Good to take photos and to make movies
First Aid Kit: Small first aid kit and foil safety blanket/blizzard blanket

For more info, please contact

info@freefloski.com

We look forward to stepping into your next adventure with you.

Floss & Squash!

Floss Cockle is a BASI British International Ski Teacher L4 ISTD with a wealth of experience having taught skiing for sixteen years and completed nineteen winter seasons.

 

 

Every Day In May

The ElliptiGo Every Day In May (EDIM) challenge is for ElliptiGo riders worldwide to sign up and commit to riding their Go’s either 5,10 or 20 miles every day in May.

“I’m just not going to be able to do that” was my first reaction to the EDIM challenge.

I was away in Norway for starters, then with work commitments all over the UK when I got back it just wouldn’t be possible to do what was required.

It soon became clear that perhaps I could do it though.  The clever team at ElliptiGo were making this challenge as possible as they could by allowing 3 days where you can miss riding and 3 days where you can choose another form of aerobic training.  With 6 days to play with (20% of the month) I came round to thinking maybe I could do it.  Yes it would require some planning, early mornings, travelling with my ElliptiGo and some effort but actually I decided this was totally do-able.

I filled out the EDIM form on the ElliptiGo website sitting in a hotel room on 30th April at 11.30pm at night and I set my alarm for the early the next morning.  I didn’t have my ElliptiGo with me in Norway so I would get up and use an alternative training day pass.

I was staying in Alesund and was at the end of a ski tour trip.  There is a peak over the town that has the most incredible views, I had intended to go up there when I arrived the previous week, but the early departure meant I hadn’t been able to.  I had time in Alesund on my return, but I had blisters on my feet so had decided I wouldn’t do the run up to the view point.  Things had changed now though.  I had committed to the EDIM challenge, I had to do a run, I would strap my blisters and get on with it!

This view was my reward and I was so pleased I did it.

View over Alesund
View over Alesund

The following day I was still in Norway and without my ElliptiGo, I was flying back to the UK later in the day, my feet were too sore to run again, I was tired and had lots of reasons why today I could rest and do nothing.   But now I was signed up to the EDIM challenge and I was committed so when I passed a kayak rental shop I decided that would be a pretty cool alternative aerobic training – a paddle around the coastline.

It was fantastic.

Kayak in Alesund
Kayak in Alesund

Back in the UK and back to my EllitpiGo I was enjoying having to do the distance everyday.

Amazing rainbow during an EDIM Ride
Amazing rainbow during an EDIM Ride

Whatever the weather I had to Go out, so even on rainy, miserable days I completed the miles and not once did I think, I wish I hadn’t of done that!  Every ride I did left me feeling good.

My rides have been varied; I’ve used them to deliver chunks of Toblerone (See Toblerone blog), I have visited Helen and Nick (who set have set up ElliptiGo rental at Draycote Water in Rugby) to do a ride together and I have enjoyed breaking my own speed record on a short circuit I have been doing for a while!

Suunto Movescount Summary May 2015
Suunto Movescount Summary May 2015

Today is the 1st June and I’ve completed the EDIM challenge.  I realised that there were several days when I would have definitely not done the ride had I not made the commitment to the EDIM challenge.  Making a commitment to yourself quietly might work but actually making the commitment to other people, out loud – verbally or by writing it down – makes a HUGE difference.

It’s a simple process > Decide to do it > Commit to doing it > Do it!

It’s so effective that I’ve decided to do another challenge this month – it’s called Every Day In June!  It’s a bit different, with a few friends we’ve committed to eating clean for a month, which means NO SUGAR.

If anyone else wants to join us – you can… You can start on June 2nd!  All you need to do is tell me or tell someone, making the commitment out loud makes a huge difference.

 

 

 

 

 

The Red Bull X-Alps – Team GBR

With little over six weeks to go before the start of the Red Bull X-Alps the athletes are preparing for the race of their lives.  With it’s reputation as the toughest adventure race in the world the Red Bull X-Alps covers a straight line distance of just over 1000km, from Salzburg to Monaco, which must be covered by foot or by paraglider.

As proud partners of the event the team at Powertraveller (who provide the ultimate off grid power solutions and who I am an ambassador for) are getting excited about following this epic journey.  Each athlete has been given a Powermonkey Explorer 2 – the toughest portable charger providing off grid power whenever they need it; which could be above the mountain tops while flying high or in the depths of a valley running in the rain.

We’ve loved getting to know some of the athletes and getting their invaluable feedback about the Powermonkey Explorer 2 and of course while we support and are cheering on every team in the event Steve Nash and Richard Bungay, Team GBR, have a special place in our hearts!

Steve Nash

No stranger to this event Steve Nash competed in the 2011 Red Bull X-Alps so he knows precisely what he’s in for.  At 52 he will be the oldest athlete in the race but with age comes experience and a solid foundation of fitness and skill.  He has flown from the Vallot hut at 4,362m on Mt Blanc, from the summit of Elbrus and from 6,200m on Peak Lenin in Kyrgyzstan and he’s vol-bivvied across the Pyrenees during his 20 plus years of paragliding cross county.  With a reputation of being a running machine and doing mountain marathons for over 10yrs Steve completed the 119km Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc TDS race with 7,250m of ascent in an impressive time of 26hrs 5mins.

In his day job Steve is an engineer but now in training mode he’s taken a break from work and is in training full time.  He recently completed a Hike & Fly of the 15 peaks (3000ft mountains) in Snowdonia, Wales.  He took 10 hrs 18 mins to complete the challenge (44k with 3404m height gain) and it seems that this is the first time anyone has done this using a paraglider.  Currently Steve is in the Alps for a month to do a thorough X-Alps route recce and when we asked how he’s feeling about the upcoming X-Alps he had this to say…

“Since selection in October, my whole existence has been focused to the start of the Red Bull X-Alps on the 5th July.  I’ve been in the Alps now for 3 weeks traveling the route, exploring options and talking to anyone and everyone who has ‘local knowledge’ of the areas.  Richard has joined me to spend another week in the Austrian section, where we will fine tune all of our equipment and routines.  We now feel very familiar with the 2015 route and both look forward to a very expensive cup of tea in the Cafe de Paris in Casino Square.”

Steve Nash charging Richard with his Powermonkey Explorer 2!
Steve Nash charging Richard with his Powermonkey Explorer 2!

 

Follow Team GBR’s facebook page and Red Bull X-Alps diary.

Website – Team GBR

 

 

BASE Jumping

I arrived in Idaho and got straight down to business!

I’m here for training and pre production work for my ‘next project’ – which I can now reveal is going to be a television series!  As you can imagine I’m very, very excited… and throwing myself (literally!) into all the work that needs to be done.

The team told me that BASE jump training was going ahead with RedBull athlete Miles Daisher.

“Miles has completed more known base jumps then anyone on the planet- well over 2,700.  In 2005, he set a base jumping record by launching 57 times in a single day, climbing a total of nearly 29,000 vertical feet to do so.  Logged over 3,100 skydives.  Creator of two new sports “skyaking” (aerobatic skydiving while seated in a kayak, for high- performance landing on water) and “Rope- swing base jumping” (launching a freewheeling base jump by swinging of a building or bridge).”

If I was going to learn to BASE jump what better coach could I wish for than Miles!

Perrine Bridge, Twin Falls, Idaho
Perrine Bridge, Twin Falls, Idaho

Heading to Twin Falls, I was expecting that the day would be spent talking about BASE jumping, that we’d be doing some theory, looking at kit and seeing the jump site.

It was always my understanding that to BASE jump it was necessary to have a lot of skydives under your belt first. Apparently this isn’t the case.  People can actually learn to BASE jump with no other flying experience but of course it’s far better (and safer) to have the experience of skydiving or paragliding.  Miles said that as I was a paraglider it was great start.

I then learnt that the plan was to spend the morning as I had thought, talking about BASE jumping, doing some theory, looking at kit and seeing the jump site and then the plan for the afternoon….. was to actually go BASE jumping!

Miles is a fireball of energy and his knowledge, expertise and full on approach were brilliant.

We spent time packing up the kit and while Miles was doing that he was explaining how it all works, we talked about the process of learning to BASE jump.  To begin I would do a static line jump – that meant Miles would hold the pilot chute (which is the small parachute that drags open the main chute) so initially the only concern would be jumping. After two seconds of free fall the parachute would open and I would then fly down and land.  Simple!

As we headed out to Perrine Bridge I was getting rather nervous.  Luckily there wasn’t a lot of time to focus on my nerves, Miles worked with us on muscle memory training and talked us through the whole process.  We scouted the landing zone and worked out a Plan A, a Plan B, a Plan C and a Plan Z!

Heading out along the bridge
Heading out along the bridge

Walking out along the bridge was like an out of body experience.  I was scared but it was essential to get a hold of myself and focus on what I was about to do.  It was like the time I fell off Mont Blanc – I was falling but I needed to be calm and sort myself out.  Which is exactly what I did.

I was going first!  Climbing over the railing was probably the worst part, I held on tight and placed my feet.  Once in position – face forward, leaning out – I looked ahead.  The point Miles gave us to look at was a mound of earth that was Evel Knievel’s jump ramp where in 1974 he’d famously attempted to jump the Snake River Canyon on a rocket cycle!

Miles said I was good to go…  I went through my final checks.

“Horizon”

“OK”

“SEE YA” …. and with that flung myself off the bridge!

As experiences go, it was up there with the biggest sensory overload I think I’ve ever had.

The focus, concentration, fear, thrill, physical sensations and relief when you touch down safely are a lot to have going on.

Meeting Miles was brilliant – he’s a unique person and having him as my coach was a privilege.

With Miles and Jonas
With Miles and Jonas

As we drove away from the bridge that evening all I could think was, “Mum is going to be so cross with me”….

Happy!
Happy!

 

This is a short Punkt video clip of one of my first static line jumps…

 

BMW Off Road Skills Brecon Beacon Adventure

Back in July I headed down to South Wales to join the Off Road Skills team to do my Level One Off Road Training.  It was a brilliant couple of days, made a huge difference to my off road riding, increased my confidence and basically left me wanting more…

The Brecon Beacons Adventure was the perfect next step.  The two day adventure ride based in Radnorshire, mid Wales organised by the Off Road Skills Team is made up of riding the great tracks and roads of Radnor Forest.

I went at the end of October – a two day off road adventure when a huge wind and rain storm was forecast in the UK.  But hey, surely a bit of rain and mud wasn’t that different to a lot of rain and mud?!

I was joining the Bahnstormer Motorrad dealership group.  We all arrived on Saturday evening ahead of our Sunday morning departure.  I was a little nervous, it had been a few months since I’d done the Off Road Level One Course and the conditions this time were very different.  It was wet and muddy, not dry and dusty.

We split into three groups of 6-8 riders, each group with an instructor and headed out from the Off Road Skills headquarters.  We soon left the road and found a pace on a stoney lane track with a little water on it in places!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was riding an F 800GS.  I love the bike although I would’t have minded being on the R 1200GS after a test ride earlier in the year and realising that it isn’t as intimidating as it looks!  The bikes are amazing and as we did our first few miles off road I started to think I was getting the hang of it….

….It wasn’t long before I came off!  Heading down a muddy track, out of the ruts and on the wet slippery grass in the centre I pulled on the brakes.  Bad move!  The brakes locked and the back tyre (acting like it was on ice) slid round.  Of course the best thing would have been to use engine breaking, commit to going and not try to stop – easier said than done though.

This wasn't a fall - Richard was just getting some mud off his jacket!
This wasn’t a fall – Richard was just getting some mud off his jacket!

Coming off was a good thing, it took away my fear about coming off!  I was moving slowly, it didn’t hurt and it was a soft landing.  I soon realised what I was doing wrong, it was my fear and harshness with the brakes that made me fall off – every time!

By the afternoon I felt I’d made significant improvement and in just a day we’d covered almost 100miles of country roads, muddy lanes, open moorland and forest areas.

That night we welcomed the cosy country pub and hearty meal.  Listening to the rain continue I knew that more deep water would be in store for the next day.  And I was right!

Crossing an overflowing river!
Crossing an overflowing river!

On day two our group was riding with Simon Pavey, who is possibly one of the most patient people I’ve ever met! As I went sideways down a bank and came off the bike Simon grinned at me and said, “You know what you did wrong? You looked down.”  He then said to me, “Relax, look up and let the wheels roll”.

And something clicked.

Let the wheels roll...
Let the wheels roll…

Relax, look up and let the wheels roll.  Relax, look up and let the wheels roll.  Relax, look up and let the wheels roll. The perfect mantra for off road riding.

I began riding with less fear and in turn I used less energy.  Everything felt better.  It reminded me a lot of when I was learning to ski.  The last thing I wanted to do was point my skis down hill, lean forward and go but as soon as I had the confidence to do that it all slotted into place..  Then it was all about practice!

The final afternoon was spent all riding as one large group back across the mountain tracks at our own pace, free to pick a line and just go for it.

It was exhilarating, fast and fun….

Getting dirty!
Getting dirty!
The happy Bahnstormer Group at the end of the trip.
The happy Bahnstormer Group at the end of the trip.

The Next Adventure

“What’s next Squash?” are words that I often hear.

Since returning from climbing Monte Rosa in the Aosta Valley in early September it’s a question I’ve been giving a very vague answer to and that’s because I can’t share all the details… yet!

I’ve spent a few years wondering about a particular type of project and working on plans in my mind.  Earlier this year I met someone who’s own ideas merged with mine and whose expertise and contribution has meant that we’ve been able to take the project to the next level.

What that means is; we have a team, we have a plan and the “Project” is happening.

My focus over the past month has been on training and planning here in the UK and in a week’s time I’ll be joining some of the team over in the States where more intense preparation will be happening.

The project is due to start early next year and will take around two months.  It will involve a journey and many different challenges; some of which are familiar to me and some completely new.  (You may have noticed my recent interest in swimming?)  I’ll also be meeting inspirational people along the way who’s individual challenges and stories I’ll be sharing.

I’ll tell you more as soon as I can! ….

Climbing Monte Rosa in the Aosta Valley

It was a total pleasure riding the BMW F800GS over the Petit St Bernard Pass from France to Italy into the Aosta Valley.  La Thuile, the first village you come to is particularly lovely in the summer.

Arriving in Couymayeur soon after marked the end of my journey on the bike and the start of my next journey, that would be something quite different.  Climb time!

I met up with my friend and mountain guide Marco and we set off to the other side of the valley.  There’s always a certain amount of nerves and excitement before a climb, especially when I pack my paraglider and there’s a chance I might be flying back down.

A huge wall of 4000m peaks, the Monte Rosa Chain, extends from the Breithorn all the way across to the multiple summits of Monte Rosa.

Just a three day trip, the plan was to get up to the first refuge, attempt a few summits on the second day, possibly staying up high and then if the weather was ok fly down on the morning of the third day.

We reached Gressoney and stopped at Staffel – where we took a series of three cable cars up to 3000m at Indren. It was a steady day.  Just an hours hike up to 3,500m to the Mantova Refuge, our base for the night.

All my kit plus my paraglider meant my ruck sack was huge!

A very huge Rab back pack!
A very huge Rab back pack!

The next morning we were up just after 5am and left as the sun came up.  Sunrise and sunsets on any mountain are always a particularly beautiful time.

Looking back down to the Mantova Hut at sunrise.
Looking back down to the Mantova Hut at sunrise.

Within a few hours we had negotiated a lot of crevasses, been enjoying the stunning views above the clouds and were on the first summit, the Balmenhorn, 4,167m.

Click here to see the short Punkt video we made on the top.

From there we headed over to the Zumstein summit 4,563m.  The ridge to the summit was very dramatic.  You walk along the edge, one side plummeting away to the clouds below – it was dizzying and reminded me of the summit ridges on Everest!

The final summit, just in time for lunch, was the Capanna Regina Margherita Hut, 4,554m.  The highest mountain refuge in Europe.  A place I’ve wanted to go to for years!  It’s a very cool hang out.  There’s dorms, good food and even….wifi!!!

We took the decision to head back down to the Mantova Hut after lunch, the weather forecast was not looking great – cloud and high winds.  We’d sleep there again and see what our final morning had in store for us.

I was up at 2am, 4am and 5am!  Each time the conditions were not suitable for flying… either too much cloud or too windy.  We left the hut mid morning and began our hike back down.

For me flying down is a welcome bonus and if it doesn’t happen that’s ok because the climbing and hiking part are wonderful too.

Heading back down.
Heading back down.

Marco and I were silent as we headed down.  The morning light was amazing and the views were spectacular.  I was deep in thought about the paragliding and thinking “what if this…. what if that….”and as if Marco could read my mind he broke the silence and said to me…

I like this quote, “A snowflake never falls in the wrong place.”

Amazing view of Mont Blanc lit by the sunrise.
Amazing view of Mont Blanc lit by the sunrise.

Photos by Marco Tamponi.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Riding BMW’s F800GS out to the Aosta Valley in Italy

As part of my latest adventure – to climb Monte Rosa in the Aosta Valley, raising awareness and supporting the charity Coppafeel – I’ve ridden over here on my BMW F800GS.

I packed the bike so that I could sit neatly between my bags – it was in line with arm chair comfort!

Sitting comfortably between my luggage!
Sitting comfortably between my luggage!

The journey to Aosta involved; two days, almost 900 miles, 5 tanks of fuel, 3 countries and a huge number of dead fly’s and bugs!

Just a few fly's on the helmet!
Just a few fly’s on the helmet!

My route took me down through the UK to the channel tunnel in Folkestone.  From there I went to Tignes in France. Taking the tunnel meant a very short crossing so I was able to cover a big distance in one day.  I rode over 700miles and felt good at the end of it.

The route to Aosta
The route to Aosta

The much shorter second days travel took me over the Col du Petit Saint-Bernard, a mountain pass from France into the Aosta Valley in Italy.  It was a joy to ride the bike along the twisting and turning, beautiful mountain roads.  I was lucky that both days travel saw sunshine and a little cloud… but no rain.

The comfort I experienced on the 800 was just brilliant and really made a huge difference.  The riding position is perfect so there’s no back, arm or neck ache.  The size of the bike means that you sit snuggly on the seat and experience very little wind against your body.  One of the most noticeable comforts I enjoyed was as a result of the hand guards – no wind on my hands meant warm hands.

The F800GS and all my kit!
The F800GS and all my kit!

The bike sat happily at 80mph enabling me to cover a good distance in a short time.  It also had enough power to carry my much needed 30kgs of luggage as if it wasn’t even on there.

I broke up the travel days with a couple of days in Tignes, where I was able to fit in some good acclimatisation time – a cycle ride up the Col de l’lseran and a hike up to 3,500m on the Grand Motte.  I was really happy to be up high. The Monte Rosa is 4,634m so I’ll really feel the benefit when I climb!

The view from the hike up the Grand Motte in Tignes
The view from the hike up the Grand Motte in Tignes

The weather forecast has changed several times in the past 72hours which is so often the case when you are in the mountains.

I’ve now arrived in the Aosta Valley, click here to see my arrival Punkt!  Fingers crossed that it’s good conditions for the three day climb I have ahead of me.

Monte Rosa was first climbed in 1855.  So during this climb I’m hoping to raise £185.50 for breast cancer awareness charity, Coppafeel.  Click here to donate.  Thank you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

People, motorbikes, climbing and flying…

One of the things I absolutely love to do is combine my passions into one big adventure.

So I’m about to do just that!

Over the next few days I’ll be making my way to the Aosta Valley in Italy on my BMW F800GS, staying with friends on the way and then climbing Monte Rosa when I arrive.

For a few years I’ve wanted to climb Monte Rosa, the “Pink Mountain”.  Sitting on the boarder of Italy and Switzerland, at 4,634m it’s the highest mountain in Switzerland and the second-highest in both the Alps and western Europe.

Monte Rosa
Monte Rosa

It’s also home to the highest construction in Europe – The Regina Margherita Hut –  located at 4,559 metres, not only is the hut a refuge for climbers but it serves as an observatory and research centre as well.  The plan is to spend a night there before our summit push.

The Margarita Hut
The Margarita Hut

I’m going to take my paraglider with me and will aim to do some flying while I’m in the area too.

After the climb, I’ll make my way to Aix Les Bains, because it has worked out that just a day after I’ll be down from the mountain I will be able to attend the first ElliptiGo European Championships!  I’ll probably be quite tired… but I’m excited to be involved in the event and to see my fellow ElliptiGo’ers!

This trip has been finalised in the last week; I’ve only just booked my Chanel crossing (with hours to go) and I’m not completely sure of the route I’ll take to Aosta.  Sometimes though you just have to seize opportunities and Go for it!  

It’ll be a two week adventure combining some of my favourite things; people, motorbikes, climbing, flying and ElliptiGo’ing!

As always I like to get behind a good cause when I take on a new challenge so I’ve set up a just giving page in support of Coppafeel, a breast cancer awareness charity.

I’m aiming to raise £185.50 as Monte Rosa was first climbed in 1855.

If you’d like to support this next effort here’s a link to the page

Squash’s JustGiving page for Coppafeel

Go on 'Coppafeel!
Go on ‘Coppafeel!

Thank you! xx

 

 

 

 

BMW Motorbike Track Day at Silverstone

It’s no secret that I love speed and I love motorbikes and although I ride an BMW F800GS I also have a bit of a thing for BMW’s S1000RR, so naturally, I jumped at the chance to do a track and training day with the BMW Bahnstormer group and Focused Events on BMW’s ultimate superbike at Silverstone.

Feeling pretty happy about the track day!
Feeling pretty happy about the track day!

A track day is an organised event in which members of the public are allowed to ride around established motor racing circuits.

I had a big grin on my face arriving at the legendary track with the sun shining and barely a cloud in the sky. Perfect conditions!

Focused Events have worked closely with BMW to package the ultimate track and training day.  On arrival we had a cup of tea, pain au chocolates (it’s like they knew I was coming) and met our instructors for the day, Tommy Hill, 2011 British Superbike Champion, and Taylor McKenzie, who rides in the British Super Sport 600 Championship (legends)!

Split in to smaller groups of 4-6 people the day is divided up by four 20minute track sessions with the instructors leading, watching and giving feedback afterwards.  When not on the track time is spent on several key skill areas.

My day began on the monkey bikes with body position training.  Being much smaller you can easily move your position on the bikes and manoeuvre them with confidence.  It was a great way to start and get a feel for where you should be on a bike when entering and going around a corner.

I'm on the left following Tommy Hill working on body position
I’m on the left following Tommy Hill working on body position

Focused events have devised a wonderful way to work on cornering technique with their cornering technique system (CTS) bike.  By attaching what looks like giant stabilisers to an F 800 riders can learn the technique of ‘counter-steering’ without the danger of crashing through overloading the front tyre.  Looks crazy, but works a treat.

Focused events Cornering Technique System in action!
Focused events Cornering Technique System in action!

Being on the track, riding the monkey bikes and working on the CTS bike are all quite physical so it was good to have some ‘classroom’ time where the instructors talked us through the circuit, drove us around it and also demonstrated positions and techniques.

Looking at body position on the bike
Looking at body position on the bike

A track day is thrilling and exciting as well as quite intimidating, my confidence grew each time I went out though. With the skill work and feedback from the instructors I felt much more in control and got faster into and out of the corners.  It was good to feel like what was happening was planned and intended rather than thinking, “phew, I got away with that”.

On the track and loving it!
On the track and loving it!

BMW and focused events have it all covered; top class instructors, incredible superbikes, small groups, a well planned day with a balance of track time and training time and because they understand the importance of people feeling good there’s a constant supply of tea, coffee and delicious food..

A cup of tea and some beautiful bikes!
A cup of tea and some beautiful bikes..

 

Pain au Chocolat
.. & pain au Chocolat!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All photos were taken and kindly provided by John Gilbride, BMW Bahnstormer Alton Hampshire (except the cup of tea and pain au chocolate ones – they were my own handy work!)..