After a terror-inducing preamble from the instructor, featuring multiple warnings that quad bikes can kill and that (in the very best of cases) you might walk - or hobble - away with a broken limb, I rose to the challenge, prayed to all that is mighty, and proved - contrary to what those who know me might expect - to be quite an adept rider.
Even the sun made an unexpected appearance as we mounted our machines and turned the ignition, and after a first few wobbly feet, I quickly got the hang of the thumb-controlled accelerator, pneumatic brake and even the technique of using my body to enhance steering. Without falling off the bike, of course.
A little over an hour later, caked in mud, with slightly achy palms and thighs from hanging on for dear life, I felt content in the knowledge that I had done one thing today that scares me (click here for Friday’s blog).
Little did I know, however, that more was still to come.
In an attempt to impress my better half I had organised a wine tasting for us and some close friends that same evening to mark his birthday
The glitch? Up until about six months ago I was completely tee-total and still have next to no understanding of how a wine can taste “mossy” or even “fruity”.
More than a little apprehensive, therefore, I headed to the bar and by the time we were all gathered around a first glass of what I was reliable informed to be “a light, fruity white with barely any legs” I was battling temptation to call it all off.
“What do you see?” the Scottish waitress standing in for the regular sommelier challenged us. “It’s quite pale” I noted in what I hoped was a convincing tone. Approving nods all around encouraged me to keep pensively eyeing the liquid while swirling it in mock fascination.
“And what do you taste?” she enquired. I took a stab at “fruity.” Again, mumbles of concurrence. And then, much to my surprise, I actually started tasting something beyond the overpowering aroma of just, well... wine. Pears perhaps? Or apples? Or maybe even citrus fruits?
“I think I’m starting to get the hang of this,” I mouthed across the table to my boyfriend, blissfully unaware that I was already getting quite giggly after just a few sips.
Later I tasted notes of cocoa, wood, berries and even fresh vine tomatoes. OK, that last one was predominatly met with confusing looks, but by that point I’d realised that there is no right or wrong in this business. Creativity knows no bounds. In fact, when others offered up “mould” and “toffee apples”, I started to think that this game should actually be called “the wackier the better” or even “name the most absurd flavour you can think of”.
So what have I learned from this weekend?
Well as I mentioned before, a person’s limits can be as individual as their fingerprints. While someone might be petrified of heights, someone else might despise spiders, dogs or pigeons.
I for one, managed to overcome my fear of looking like an ignorant dingbat in front of wine-guzzling friends, as well as the apprehension I've hitherto expereinced towards motorised vehicles.
Perhaps next time I’ll graduate to whiskey tasting and hovercrafts, or I might even get around to passing my driving test and then celebrating with a road trip through the Napa Valley.
First though, I’ll diligently be turning my attention back to running.
A speed session on the treadmill awaits: minute-long sprints followed by rest periods of ninety seconds. Ten repetitions before squats, leg presses, curls, core work and lots of stretches. The countdown continues and it's only five months until my marathon.
Afterwards I’ll reward myself with a hot shower, plenty of carbohydrates and protein and perhaps – just perhaps – a small glass of something “light and fruity with few legs”. What better way to reward my own tired ones?
(Image courtesy of www.bramptonwines.files.wordpress.com)
(I went quad biking at QuadNation in Didcot, Oxforshire: http://www.quadnation.co.uk/; and wine tasting at the Bibury Court Hotel in Cirencester, Gloucestershire: http://www.biburycourt.com/)