They say that to really master something, you have to spend at least 10,000 hours doing it. And for the last few months, it feels like I have spend that long training. Well, It might be a bit of an exaggeration, but it certainly feels like it has been a lot of hours if you factor in the driving. Whether I'll ever master anything about training, or climbing for that matter, is up for discussion.
The strategy for winter was a simple one, basically getting out every weekend, no matter the weather, try really hard and come back to London exhausted. I haven't been one to jump on the Lattice bandwagon as yet. Aero Pow, An Cap, Aero Cap... all get jumbled in my loaf. And to be honest, if I train hard on plastic I always get injured. Whereas for some reason, on rock, try as hard as I like, I don't seem to get injured. And it's always nice to be by the sea with Viki.
The main focus was to do as much mileage as possible on real rock over the winter so I'm fit for Red River Gorge in early April. But at the same time I really wanted to do this route that's giving me some bother. Milky Bar Kid (8a), being a link up, wouldn't really make it to the top charts of climbing a ticklist. But, because it climbs the cruxes of some very good routes and climaxes to an outrageous finale, it is a route I really rate. But it's hard. Well, at least I found it hard compared to the other 8a's I've done. I knew it would take me a fair bit of time to do it, so I just worked my way up to it by repeating and lapping all the other 7c's and 8a's at Brean. Slowly building the fitness and the power endurance. Having that as a goal has kept me motivated to try hard even in the minging weather that we have endured.
I loved the routine of getting home on a Friday evening after work, having some dinner, chill out and then drive to Brean. It's almost pointless to check the weather, because no matter how bad it is, there's always climbing to be done. Heck, we even climbed through Storm Doris with a 60mph gale. Good connies that day though!. With the process, Viki has improved her level of tolerance for shit weather, but she's kept pulling hard, reaping some amazing rewards like sending Chulilla (7b+) and now looking strong on Storm Warning (7c+). But we have also had some amazing days, when people do show up for a social and the crag gets busy. It's a good scene, a bit like the Kilnsey lot in summer, it's a mini-holiday every weekend for us.
Eventually, through perseverance, Milky Bar Kid went down and it felt very satisfying to put it all together at the end. I don't normally get much emotional from clipping chains anymore, certainly not like topping out an E5 in Pembroke. But I suppose you get out what you put in, and I can see why people find long projects so rewarding. I can see myself doing some more of that in the future. Though I'm not sure I want to spend another 3 month's worths of weekends projecting just one route. Maybe that's the reason I haven't climbed 8a+ yet... I know, the writing is on the wall.
So is this post about training or climbing? I don't know, I guess it's all the same to me.
The whole Brean pilgrimage felt a bit like a deja-vu to last few winters, committing all weekend to White Goods. I guess we are good at training, but outdoors. I just realize that what I like is just to be outdoors, no matter what. The other day I had this revelation that in fact, I've been a weekend warrior since I was 13 when I joined my local ski school. Every saturday and sunday, from November to April, I would jump in a bus to go skiing. Later on I would fill the summer weekends with climbing with my brother and my neighbours. When I moved to Italy aged 22, is when I first remember counting only 2 weekends a year that I wasn't up in the Dolomites (Conveniently all the partying happened during the week). So I guess it's in my DNA now. I'm glad I can carry on being a weekend warrior with seemingly never getting tired of it. I hope that never changes.
Now I hope we can get a few weekends to Malham before I head to USA. Really psyched to session the cove!