Saturday 26 November 2011

the aerobatic project

Well this is it, it’s up, the site is live!

New blog, news page, photographs and videos. Wander over and have a look, please!

Let me know what you all think. Thank you.

Wednesday 23 November 2011

biking on empty

Just lately I’ve been suffering. Illness is the curse of the common masses, especially at this time of year and doubly so when you’re running yourself down by working all hours of the day and not getting to bed until gone 1am each night. So yes, I caught the annual cold. It’ll be nice if I don’t catch another for a while, because to be honest, spending two weeks barely able to focus let alone do anything, really isn’t helpful or motivating in any way. Sorry to moan.

This weekend just gone I was still coughing and croaking, but having begun to feel as though I had at least started to partially resemble a human being again (so long as you didn’t look too closely), it was time to get out and do something. The plan had been for Matt and myself to head down to South Wales to spend the weekend mountain biking at Afan. I’ve been wanting to head down and check out the trails there for goodness knows how long, and this weekend was meant to be it – we were going. Anyway, predictably we didn’t go – me having barely (i.e. not) recovered from my cold and Matt becoming seemingly more and more convinced that his last ‘off’ at Penmachno may actually have done some real damage to his wrist (bud, if you read this, go get an x-ray ok?). With the two day epic postponed, we did decide we’d at least get the bikes out for a run on the Saturday, and having heard that a new section of black graded trail had recently been opened up at Llandegla, and neither of us having ridden said new section of trails, off we went.

Of course no trip to Llandegla would be complete without an hour or two’s procrastination in the cafe over a cuppa and a bacon sandwich/slice of cake (depending on what type of mood you’re in – both are really good). Eventually we were also joined by Adam of fame, who had decided to come up and join us to test out his new BB and cranks, and then we were off. Out into the mizzle and mist we charged, wheezing and whinging our way up the fireroad to the top of the hill (yes, ok, it was just me wheezing, but I’m proud to say it wasn’t actually me that did all of the whinging), whizzing our way down the initial few km of red graded trail until we were off onto the black.

For anyone that hasn’t ridden at Llandegla before, the black trails aren’t really black. They’re red. There’s very little full on technicality and the severity only really becomes apparent when you ride at some considerable speed. The singletrack is smooth, flowing and littered with jumps, berms and the occasional small drop. The steep climbing switchbacks and the intimidating looking boardwalk are also for me minor highlights (am I odd for enjoying the climbs?) and the whole thing has always been just really rather enjoyable fun, until you get to the end of the fun stuff and are faced with a few km of dull, tedious, flat track back to the car park…or at least that’s how it used to be.

The new section of trail, for those that know the forest and the old trails, has been built starting just before ‘The Twins’ on the red trail (so you’ve already ridden the old black trail and have re-joined the red again). It’s after the run off into ‘JJ’s jumps’ and is blindingly obvious as it starts with an epic long section of fast, undulating built up boardwalk.

I should admit here and now that the one and only part of the trail I did not ride was the initial rock drop onto the new boardwalk – I was being a coward, I hold my hands up to it. The rest of the trail was just fantastic fun, with long fast descents strewn with jumps that just beg you to carry enough speed through them to let them just fling you skyward with virtually no effort whatsoever, interspersed with some brutal, hell climbs (ok so these were by this stage in the day for me quite unpleasant as my sub-optimal health levels were catching up with me). I won’t say any more actually, just that the new section of trail really makes the venue fully worthwhile now – I always enjoyed riding there before, but now it really is something quite fabulous. There’s still no real technicality, but the grin factor when you just let go and let the trail carry you is immense.

The sunday did in the end also yield some mountain bike action, with all three of us returning (after a bit of an issue with a certain party member’s van that had to be left in the car park overnight), just having a play on the jumps in the skills area in between eating cake and drinking hot chocolate. Adam and I also decided to have a crack at the blue trail once it had gotten dark – I have some new lighting combinations I was wanting to try out. Unfortunately by the time we’d wombled our way back to the top of the forest we were in such thick fog that neither of us could even see the obstacles we were riding over. Sheer sensibility dictated that we simply rode back down the forest tracks to the car park rather than stumbling on with our eyes unfocussed in the thick foggy gloop. A good call me thinks.

The lights did work incredibly well in the clear, and at some point in the not too distant future I have every intention of writing a post detailing my setup and talking about how and why I think things do and don’t work for night riding, not just from a rider’s point of view, but from an electronic engineer’s too (for that is actually what I am in case you were unaware of my professional background).

Anyway, to cut a long, rambling story short, the new sections of trail at Coed Llandegla are well worth a ride if you enjoy fast, flowing, jumpy trails (and the cafe is still fantastic), and my fitness levels are still remarkably good considering how ill and lazy I’ve been lately, which is nice.

Tuesday 15 November 2011

long time coming

The last thing I posted up here was a bit of a look at who I am – the person with whom you are sharing this relationship. I believe there is definitely a relationship between writer and reader, even if the two have never met and are never likely to, the relationship still exists. On here I share a great deal of myself at times – the real ‘who I am’ if you like. My last post described parts of my actual life that many of you may not have known about, but really, it’s in these late night outpourings that you get a closer glimpse of the type of person I really am.

I don’t mind sharing, I’ve always been keen to give of myself, whether it be as a shoulder to a friend in need, a listening ear to someone just needing to vent, or as a willing volunteer in a team out on a hillside somewhere in the middle of a dark, rainy night answering a call for help.

On these pages sometimes I give a little bit more of myself than I’m necessarily comfortable with, not that you, as the readers, would ever realise (unless I actually told you at the time). My writings aren’t always aimed to please or inform, sometimes they are simply a form of release for my over-active mind, my emotions or just a way of attempting to win the battle with insomnia. A few of these blog entries are entirely selfish in their writing, and yet I’m aware that sometimes it is these entries that many of you find the most moving or inspirational.

This blog has been running as a project of mine for a few years now. It started life as a means of staving off the boredom of days spent in an office with no work to do (at the time I was a field engineer and as such my actual ‘work’ was usually out on site somewhere). I never actually intended for any of my writings to necessarily become part of a public forum – they were just for me, as a means of maintaining the creativity that I’d had cultivated as a child. After a while it became apparent though, that people were actually reading what I was writing, and my approach changed. I suppose the ‘diary’ eventually became a real blog, with postings that were meant to be read and enjoyed.

I enjoy the blogging process immensely and find watching the ‘stats’ is a simple yet effective pleasure – I love seeing the numbers gradually change because each incremental increase means that something else that I’ve written or photographed or shared has been looked at by another human being. We all like to communicate and most of us like to share – it’s a big part of what makes us who we are. Every person that reads my blog or my Facebook or Twitter feed gains another fragmentary insight into me as a person, and as I’ve already stated, I do like to share.

So where is it that I’m going with all of this? Lately much of my time has been taken up with working on the biggest project of my life – one that I’ve alluded to in previous postings. My fight to become a top class aerobatic pilot has begun, and whilst I’m very much at the ‘beginner’ stage right now, I’m working hard to make sure that I will actually have the opportunity to push myself onward to bigger and bigger things. It isn’t easy.

The project at the moment is focused around the new website that I’m working on – the site that will be showcasing not just who I am and what I am trying to achieve for myself, but will also be aimed at sharing my inspiration, motivation and enthusiasm with as many other people as possible.

What I’m trying to achieve is nothing short of extraordinary, and I know that. In order to achieve something extraordinary you have to become extraordinary yourself, and in my mind anyone who has the desire to do so also has the capability – often all people need is a little bit of encouragement in order to start to achieve their potential. I’ve had a great deal of encouragement from a great number of people, many of whom I’ve not yet met. My humble beginnings (for I am not rich, in fact far from it – affording to fly is something I simply am not able to do, and yet somehow I make it happen…) are not something that I have ever allowed to hold me back – if I’ve wanted to do something I’ve found a way to work and make it happen. Anyone can do this, anyone can find ways to reach their potential and achieve their goals if they are willing to commit to what it takes – and this is what “The Aerobatic Project” is about. It’s not just about me, it’s not just about flying, it’s about a person becoming something, it’s about believing in yourself and making what some may say is ‘impossible’ actually something to fight for.

So yes, it has been a long time coming – the realisation that I’m capable of becoming somebody, that I have no reason not to believe in myself. The knowledge that one day I’ll be able to look back and know, that no matter what the outcome, the effort I put in was total, the way I fought was with passion and genuine commitment. Even if for some reason I don’t manage to reach the places I’m aiming for, I know I’ll be able to look back and feel truly proud because everything I did was everything I was capable of. There will be no regrets.


The website isn’t live yet – I’ll let you know when it is and you can all head over and lend your support through those lovely little statistical numbers. I’ll appreciate it more than you realise.

If any of you feel you’d like to offer any direct support, be it through sponsorship of the project (which is going to be a big battle), through taking photographs or assisting with the videos, introducing me to like-minded individuals and pilots, by offering articles (oh yes, I’ll be keen to feature more than just my own writings with this one), by sharing my links on your own sites or featuring the project in other media, or even just by saying hello and offering a kind word, then please drop me a line! I’m always super keen to receive feedback of any sort so please do let me know what you’re thinking, either in the comments box here, on the site when it goes live, or by contacting me through Twitter/Facebook/Youtube or via email: all my links are now here:

Oh, and thank you for reading :)


Friday 4 November 2011

who am I?

It’s about time I posted up a bit more of a profile, so for those of you curious to know a bit more about the girl behind the blog, here you go!

  • Name: Lauren Richardson
  • Age: 24
  • Location: Mid-Wales (almost North Wales)
  • Main occupation: Radio Transmission Engineer. I also dabble in Technical Training.
  • Other occupations: Blogging, Gear Reviewing, Writing
  • Hobbies: Climbing (trad, sport, bouldering, Scottish winter, ice, Alpine – pretty much the full spectrum), Mountaineering (all mountain craft – walking, navigating, wild camping, scrambling etc), Mountain Biking, Mountain Rescue (yes, it’s a hobby!), Flying and Aerobatics.

So those are the basics, but I want to talk about two particular aspects of my life that are probably the most important and basically sum up who I really am:

  • Mountain Rescue: I’m a full member of the NEWSAR, the Mountain Rescue and SaR team that covers the ‘North East Wales’ area (which is huge – we cover all the way from the north coast down to Welshpool/Newtown and right across to the M6). I’m also the ‘Comms Officer’ for the team, which basically means I spend vast amounts of time behind the scenes dealing with team radios, laptops, mapping software and all other things tech – people don’t realise just how much technology is used by teams nowadays, it’s rather impressive let me tell you. The crux of the Mountain Rescue thing though, is giving back something to the outdoor community – I’ve always wanted to help people and joining a team seemed like a great way to give of myself, my knowledge and my experience. The bonus is we save lives – it doesn’t get much cooler than that.
  • Aerobatics: I’m a private pilot. I adore flying, and this year I finally fulfilled my wish to have a go flying a Pitts Special – the trouble was it didn’t stop there. After my first ever go at aerobatics I was completely hooked, and a few months of training later I went to my first competition…and won. Ok, so it was only the Beginners class, but I still won and for me this has probably been one of my proudest achievements to date. Since then I’ve qualified to fly in the next category up (Standard class) for the next year’s season, and over the winter my aims are to train myself to a high enough standard to be able to have a good crack at winning something next year. I’m also in the process of building a new website with lots of cool pictures and video to publicise my flying and hopefully inspire others to look into the world of aerobatics and realise that you don’t have to be rich in order to experience what has been for me, something truly incredible and life-changing.

So who am I? Just a girl who likes to enjoy life and is willing to work hard at anything and everything that’s important.

Wednesday 2 November 2011

aerobatics–my first video

Here we go, my first experimental in-flight video, hope you enjoy it!