Actually, forget the mistletoe – and the wine for that matter – but Captain Morgan, warm whiskey and lots of dirty great bogs will do the trick…
May I wish a Happy New Year to you all. My recent period has been good in several ways. I have had some very positive news to celebrate and have spent most of the last month working on that news. Right now I would love to write all about it here in my column but I think that I am not in a confirmed enough position to be making any announcements in the media. Don’t worry – nobody is pregnant due to any action I’ve been performing!
I am in fact working very hard to complete a deal which will allow me to race in 2011 in the Maxxis and Red Bull championships. I am very hopeful that I will be able to create a set-up where I can concentrate on doing my role as a rider. Recent years I have not had 100 per cent of my time available to dedicate to being a full-time racer so if I can get this deal completed then I hope to be away from that problem. More time to train, practice, rest and travel will certainly be a welcome change for me.
I had another birthday since last writing. I’m now 32 and don’t feel any older than I did when I was 21. Weird and worrying really. I don’t care to be honest and I’m lucky not to as some people that I see act as if the sands of time are running through their hands. Panic living as if time’s running out. In terms of my body condition I actually believe I’m coming into my prime strength era.
Bike riding has been minimal last month. There haven’t been any supercross events and I have stayed off the trials bikes which I would have always used in the winter months. The only handlebar time that went down was a spot of bog-hopping with Meeke and McGuire and a very cheeky snow show in the middle of the night after coming back from celebrating my birthday. Of course with the persuasion of my mate Captain Morgan we all decided that the fresh snow fall deserved some fully grown men to get their toys out for a little late night fun.
With the biggest tractor inner tubes inflated to double hard, a tow rope tied to the back of a bike, body laid chest down and holding on like you’ve never held on in your life before, all you had to do was stay on and hope the rider on the bike didn’t crash. I nearly towed my mate all the way into town as I knew he wouldn’t jump off without me stopping. My plan was fluffed when we came to the first hill and the rear tyre wouldn’t grip and we span to a stop.
There were no cars or traffic on the road as the snow was really deep due to a heavy downfall in a short space of time. Only one guy got a wee bit hurt. He went through the hedge at the bottom of my lane at quite a rate of speed on. Only bruising and torn clothes. It was very funny at the time.
The bog-hopping was good too. Just three of us arranged to go and it kindly stayed dry overhead for both days. The ground was still frozen on some of the bogs up on the high mountains but no problems occurred. As usual we covered over 100 miles off-road each day. We did run into a little bit of a lack of daylight issue though on day one. As we were having such a good time on the terrain we had freshly found, we ended up a good few miles away from our base when it had become completely dark. The other two lads had proper enduro bikes with legal lights, I on the other hand didn’t. Coming home we stuck to the roads and that results in your body getting frozen as it isn’t getting worked and the cold air from your pace blows clean through you with a bite.
Meeke knew the area and suggested going for a hot whiskey in a pub we were passing. The idea was to go in for one to get warmed up and then shoot on home to get out of our wet gear and off the bikes finally. Arriving at the pub we just parked the bikes up outside and went straight in to sit round the blazing open fire. As you may be wondering, yes, we were plastered from head to toe in Donegal mud and bog. But the form up in that part of Ireland is a wee bit different to the rest of the world. We had no money either and agreed to come back later that night to pay for our drinks.
Well…the just one drink got a bit extended to the point of Meeke’s girlfriend ringing to ask where we were as it was 9 o’clock and our taxi to go out for dinner was sitting on the driveway! Oops! We left the pub and rode the 10-minute trip home. We didn’t race each other or anything to see whose bike was fastest in the dark, on the road, well-oiled.
We got washed and changed and back down the road in the patient taxi to pay our debt. I nearly choked when I found out we had ran up a tab of 63 Euros. We were only calling in for one! At least all our gear was bone dry for the next day as we’d sat round the fire for that long putting the world to rights.
Christmas was fantastic and I enjoyed some much-needed quality time with my family and good friends. My dad was a very heavy smoker for over 50 years and he’s been a non-smoker now for four months. He’s on good form and had the banter flying high over the festive period. He plays in a silver band and raises funds for charity playing all over Belfast in hotels, restaurants, bars, pubs, shopping centres, Christmas markets and the like. My mum goes with them on Christmas Eve and helps collect money. They all get merry and we went along too for a while. It was ace seeing him in that setting.
I’ll be fit to announce my plans for 2011 in next month’s issue. I can’t wait. Believe me.