Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Mountain Mayhem 2009 (incorporating Father's Day)


This year, after the wash-out of 12 months ago, I decided to sit out the racing at Mountain Mayhem 2009 and instead to go along for the spectacle. As well as offering a little encouragement to those friends who were still riding, it gave me the chance to take Oliver camping for the first time.

We decided Lucy was a bit young, not so much for her own good as much as the for the riders who would need their sleep on Saturday night and certainly wouldn't get it should Lucy decide she wanted to stay awake.

So last Friday evening I packed the car with camping essentials and Oliver and I headed off to Eastnor Castle Deer Park in the Malverns.

We got there just before sunset and I piled our things into the tent. Oliver played happily with my friend Dave's son, Lewis, who he has met a couple of times before. With all the unpacking and reunions with people we tend only to see at this gathering, it was 11pm before the little man and I hit the sack. He wasn't keen at first, complaining that he didn't want to go to bed, but once in the tent he was fine.

It rained for several hours in the night but we woke to a day that was to be marked by spells of very warm sunshine and just a single shower.


After a breakfast of shreddies, Oliver and Lewis took up where they had left off playing the night before and it quickly became apparent that they got on very well, playing with characters, role-playing (pretending to be fireman in our cars) and generally making a bit more mess with our limited supplies of water than we'd have liked as they made swimming pools for their animal characters.


On a whim, and without much real expectation, both myself and Lewis's Dad had taken the boys' Cnoc bikes.


"Perhaps we'll have them both riding before the weekend is out" I had joked on Thursday. Well, blow me down: we did! We had a large gently sloping area of grass next to our camping pitch and I pushed Oliver gently down it, running with him before letting go.... and he carried on pedalling and steering himself! I was absolutely thrilled. I told Oliver how proud I was of him and made a big fuss of him. Of course he didn't think half of much of it as me!

Later, I managed to persuade him to let me film him short clip of him to show Hayley. He wasn't very keen by this point but at least it shows him riding unaided.

While the boys had lunch, Dave and I went to ride some demo bikes: a Whyte E-120 and a Whyte titanium hardtail that retailed at over £3100! To be fair it felt like three grands worth of bike: light as a feather and fast! We rode a test track up and down hill for 45 minutes before chatting with one of the Whyte designers.

By now the race start was approaching. I took Oliver (who had eaten very little while I was riding) for a second chance of lunch at the cafe, which we finished just before the start.


Then it was back to our campsite for an afternoon full of riding bikes - mostly his Rothan for Oliver which spared my back pushing him - playing with the other kids there, chucking frisbees, leaving me even a little time to strum my ukulele!

Oliver was also rather fascinated by the fresh scar carried by fellow camper Gary who had recently dropped a hedge trimmer on his lower shin. Oliver even took pleasure in touching the stitches (or whatever they really are nowadays - more like little fancy band-aid strips).

I made the little man some ham sandiwches for dinner and he played on until about 9pm. I have never known him have a more active day. He was running or (push-)cycling around all evening. When he finally cleaned his teeth and went to bed he was asleep in a 2 minutes flat.

I stayed up a while longer, watching the lights of the riders pass by on the nearby climb and was also rewarded with a display of lanterns being sent up from the neighbouring Eastnor castle. There must have been over fifty of them. Very atmospheric if not a little ghostly as they floated up into the darkness of the summer night.

Sunday saw us rise around 7am and do not too much. We ambled over and watched kids climbing the climbing wall brought by the army and Oliver had an ice-cream after having an early lunch. After that we headed off home to enjoy Father's Day with Hayley and Lucy.

On the way home, Oliver told me he liked camping. And he clearly had fun with Lewis. In fact when Lewis's Mum asked him what had he done that weekend that was really great, instead of saying "I rode my bike" as she had expected, he told her "me and Lewis are best friends".

I had a great weekend with the little man. It's one I know I'll always look back on fondly. Not just for him riding his bike for the first time, but for other moments like him choosing to fall asleep holding my hand as he lay beside me in the tent on Saturday night. You can't buy memories like that.


(There are some more pictures from the weekend here.)


James (SeattleDad) said...

Sounds like a great time. I can't wait till my first camping trip with Lukas. Those bikes look like they were a blast. Glad to hear you had a nice weekend and Father's Day.

Steve said...

The (Islabike) bikes are great. Properly built bikes scaled down for little hands, legs and feet. I can't recommend them enough. Oliver started on their Rothan balance bike and now is riding with pedals having never had stabilizers.

You and Lukas have some fantastic locations around you when you do make that first camping trip. I'm sure it's gonna be a great adventure.

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