Thursday, 14 October 2010


The recovery process is an important factor post 24 hour racing. It normally takes me at least two weeks and probably up to six weeks to feel like my legs are anywhere near normal again. So imagine my anxiety when I found myself taking part in a 5 hour endurance event in Thailand less than 4 days after the most strenuous 24 hour race I have ever done…

The mud was tenacious, the rain freezing, my muscles more beaten up than after the World’s.  Worst of all, I had to wear nothing but a hairnet, flip-flops and a pair of black mesh ‘boy-shorts’ throughout!  As you may have guessed, this event had nothing to do with bicycles. We were ‘’treating” ourselves to a day of post-race “pampering” in one of Bangkok’s finest spas...

It seemed like a good idea at the time - a day in a spa in Bangkok to soothe our aching bodies before we headed up to the northern hill country (with our bikes).

Simon and I naively looked through the menu (neither of us spa experts) and choose a 5 hour option - Jacuzzi bubble bath then exfoliation, tea, Thai full body massage and a facial thrown in as this month’s special offer – how lucky are we!

So, I have been brought to the treatment room, a dimly lit chamber with wooden carvings of Buddha everywhere, 2 black marble slabs, a massive bath and mood lighting.  The lady gives me 2 small packages.  I stifle a giggle as I discover a hairnet and shorts.  Standing there admiring myself in the mirror wearing said items I discover as I experiment with their elasticity that the shorts could happily keep me covered from my chin to my knees. Without warning the door opens and Simon comes in carrying the same packages - they ‘do’ couples together... I am afraid - very afraid!

Once in the bubbling Jacuzzi I try not to laugh at Simon who, wearing the same as me, is trying to look comfortable in a metro sexual, “this is not a problem for me”, kind of way.  Above the Jacuzzi is a massive stone Buddha looking like he is smoking a joint.  On closer inspection it is a merely a water spout coming out of his mouth used to top up the bath.  2 Thai ladies walk in laden with bottles and gesture for us to get out of the bath. They are neither as young, nor as pretty as the ladies at reception. I can see Simon looking conned - I am a tad relieved.

I lie on my front and get covered in gritty mud- the type that eats away at brake pads. It sounds like someone is sweeping the drive and as the Thai lady sets to work grinding the mud into my pores it seems that the top layer of my skin is being eroded - this must be exfoliation… I end up feeling about an inch thinner and am certainly a lot pinker when she finally finishes. Turning over as instructed I see Simon’s face- a look of bewilderment and mild amusement.

I know how long it takes me to wash my bike when it is as muddy as we are and I wonder how we are going to get clean. At that moment, a torrent of cold water, slowing to a tepid trickle empties from the ceiling- its raining?! There is a long oblong showerhead over both marble slabs which soon washes the mud into a grey pool onto the floor- efficient, no doubt but I was left shivering with shock and cold. In true ‘mountain biking in the rain’, style there is a cup of tea close at hand. Simon and I sit, still in our black pants, huddled next to a naked, grinning Buddha, trying to warm ourselves with steaming jasmine tea.

So far I have got muddy, cold and soaking wet, but I still wasn’t prepared for what my muscles would feel like after the next stage - back on the slab for an oil massage – like they were being torn off my bones with a blunt instrument. The oil massage was more painful to my back and limbs than at any moment during the 24 hour race.

By the time this was over it was four hours into the “treatment” / endurance and I found myself using the same tactics of mental and physical survival that I use for racing … only this time lying on my back covered in towels with only the facial to go… an hour of agony from lying still on my bruised back while my face was polished, scrubbed and covered in grease.

At last it’s over and Simon sits up looking totally exhausted. He can’t quite open his eyes, His hair is sticking up, his face bright pink with small dollops of face pack around the edges. His body is covered in red marks from the massage and his pants are at a jaunty angle – he looks like he has just ridden over Mount Stromlo for 24 hours!

The irony of the situation suddenly makes me burst out laughing. Luckily Simon, who could so easily have had a sense of humour failure about what we have just been through, smiles back and just shakes his head.

Dressed and out into the foyer we gingerly sit down, only to be offered a pink blamange to eat… what?!  Again the irony makes me laugh.  I tend to use For Goodness Shakes recovery drink after exercise- and this reminds me of their Superberry flavour, so here we are doing much the same…

Recovering from a 24 hour endurance event with another endurance event in a Bangkok spa is definitely something worth trying simply for the novelty value. But in future I will stick to the more conventional approach of recovery tights and recovery shakes. I know the tights look just as ridiculous as mesh boy-shorts, but they are slightly more acceptable to wander around in. And if I am really honest I am not sure I see the point in paying to get covered in mud, rained on and pummelled- I can get that for free when ever I ride my bike!


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