It’s not unusual for me to pause mid trail to gawk at something or inhale a view – such surrounds are a big reason I’m out there in the first place – but today I found myself doing something new.
Today I came skidding to a standstill halfway around a route, to record the GPX co-ordinates of a particularly brilliant berry-laden holly bush in my smart watch.
I know. Weirdo.
But I also know I’ll be back, scrumping wild-growing decorations when the time comes to deck the halls with spiky stuff. Which, now I stop to think about it… is scarily soon.
My bah-humbugging pre-December tinsel ban might be holding firm in the house, but out on the trails, Ma Nature is slowly hanging her decorations up. During dark dawn runs, the halo of my head torch reveals frosted cobwebs alongside the path, and the rusty red chests of restless robins now provide regular streaks of festive colour among the increasingly naked branches of the trees that line my local mountain bike tracks.
This means two things: 1) ’tis the season to be getting a few more kays in your quads before the mince-pie munching and mulled-wine gargling begins in earnest; and 2) it’s that time of year when you have to come up with some ideas about what to get your friends and family for Christmas.
If those people are fellow adventure types, this isn’t too taxing a task – frankly you’re spoilt for choice. Best place to begin is by thinking about what you yourself would like, ideally while out running or riding.
This isn’t a bad training tip as it happens (good for doing hill reps): Make a mental list. Check it twice. Repeat. Refine. Warm down. Write it down. Leave it somewhere obvious. Don’t be naughty. Do be nice. Begrudgingly remember that this isn’t supposed to be about you, and start putting other people’s names next to all the cool stuff.
So, where to start? Maybe with a Christmas jumper, adventure style, like the long-sleeve running top from Aussie Grit Apparel’s flint range, made with a smart merino-blend material to provide insulation and warmth even when wet, and complete with reflective silver flourishes to keep you safe on roads en route to the trails.
Or perhaps with some Falke running socks – not cheap, but long-lasting, and designed and padded for perfect protection while pounding the trails (and it wouldn’t be Christmas without someone unwrapping a pair of socks).
It’s easy to over indulge in unhealthy fodder during the festive season, especially while making plans to burn it off with NYE resolutions, but getting someone some super tasty Wonderfuel will start them off on the right foot (think Salted Caramel Apple Balls and Beetiful Bircher), created by Mel Varvel, an endurance athlete and baker with a passion for natural nutrition.
For the itchy-footed adventurer, a book full of inspiration such as Wild Running by Jen and Sim Benson, a comprehensive guide to Britain’s best trails, is the ideal stocking filler. Likewise Go and 50 Races to Run Before you Die, both by Tobias Mews, and Lonely Planet’s Epic Bike Rides.
There’s nothing like hot-looking new clobber to encourage people to get out and embrace adventures in the New Year, and AGA’s bike shell jacket is not only a waterproof, breathable, three-layer technical coat for mountain biking in all conditions, it also comes in a tasty tangerine hue.
All adventure types dig maps, but think outside the foldable rectangle and orientate yourself towards some of Ordnance Survey’s ace gift offerings, such as map-adorned picnic rugs and towels featuring topo graphics of special wild places.
For a readymade Santa’s sack full of adventure presents, check out Alpkit’s
Microadventure Bivvy Bundle, a one-stop combo package for overnight running and riding micro missions, featuring bivvy bag, tiny stove and cooking kit, and a Gamma III head torch.
Or, gift someone an adventure to look forward to in 2019, with a mountain-bike trip with a company like Trail Unknown, an international trail running escapade with the likes of Tour de Trails or a complete weekend of adventure pursuits at an outdoor carnival such as the National Trust’s Top of the Gorge and South West Outdoor Festival.
The best gift, though, is the one that cost nowt: an invitation to join you on a Christmas canter around your favourite trails, via those festive foraging spots where the holly and mistletoe grows. See you out there.
By Pat Kinsella