Saturday, 27 February 2010

Muddy cross miles

Ali was up in the lakes today with her Dad and Simon fancied riding somewhere other than Rivington. So we met up at mine after I finished work. I believe Simon spent the morning fettling his bike, I did the usual cross my fingers and hope the bike still works! We did more or less the same loop as I did on thursday with one extra climb and descent as Simon told me how much he had enjoyed the hard road climb and a slightly different track round near the strawbury duck, but the steps meant it was a bit stop/start. Back well before dark a nice short ride for an afternoon.

Sprinting to Warrington

So yesterday I had a busy day. It started with a nice 7mile commute in the morning. Unfortunately it was raining and I forgot to start my Garmin till halfway there. The morning school was lovely and we managed to get the kids out for a while, had to bring them in eventually as they were getting very cold though.

Then the excitment started I had to get from here over to Warrington in my lunch break. I was suprised when I plotted the route that it was only 11miles but my long transfers have always been in company leading to me worrying about it less. I set off into the rain and a headwind. Tried riding on the drops but couldn't reach the brakes which just scared me! Felt like I was making good time but no looking at the time and stressing myself out! Arrived and I was there 15minutes earlier than our official arrival time. Had managed an average of 14mph - very fast for me!

Next it was time for the second sprint of the day, Warrington to the Doctors in Bolton. This time it was 17miles and there was one nice climb. It was going well till Leigh then I had to start climbing. At this point I remembered I was going to bring gears as I was expecting tired legs and a climb. No choice now I had to keep pushing. Got to Doctors at 5pm for a 5:15pm appointment so good timing. He was only running 45minutes late so it was a good job I had remembered a magazine. I was his last appointment of the day and we had a nice chat about 24hour racing. He keen for me to do it, has some idea that I am superfit! He also has a good idea why I'm not sleeping so hopefully something is going to happen there.

Next week I may look at a longer route home as it is time to start getting some longer rides if I am going to do this little race!

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Muddy nights

Tonight I headed out on a nightride with Odile. She reminded me lots before we headed out that she hadn't been out on her bike before Christmas and I didn't wanted to slide around on ice. So I made a decision to head over to Jumbles. The steps at the golf course soon focused the mind and a slide in the mud reminded me that this was fun. From there it was over towards the Strawbury Duck, lots of lovely singletrack in the trees. I tried following a track I had done once, didn't get lost but didn't come out where I thought I would either. Still not too much of an extra climb and we were flying down the Witton's Weavers way and back to mine.

Home covered in mud with a huge grin, must spend more time on the mountain bike!

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Resuming Running

Some of you may have noticed I didn't run last week, which means my run every week hasn't happened. I had lots of excuses last week, a slight cold being the main one I used, but nothing that really should have stopped me. Still no point giving up after one bad week - if that was the case I would have given up on the year in the first week of January. So last night I went running in the snow. It was dark so it was pavement pounding. 25minutes and nearly 3 miles covered. By the time I got home any snow that had stuck was melting but it had made me smile when I was out.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Proactive about Potholes

As I mentioned in a previous post my days commuting at the moment seem to involve constantly dodging potholes. There is no chance to switch off and just spin you have to constantly alert for these fiends waiting to catch the unaware. I decided that I needed to start reporting them on the fantastic fill that hole website. I always mean to do things like this and never get round to it. No longer am I going to be that person. First I reported the one that got me the other week. Today it was the turn of a road just round the corner to me that has a 10m section of constant potholes, not only am I trying to avoid them all the cars are too which leads to some interesting times. I'll never remember where they all are but I'm aiming to get at least one a week reported. Hopefully more. I look forward to seeing the first one filled in!

Sunday, 21 February 2010

More snow!

Woke up again to more snow so I was glad I had taken Simon up on his idea of a mountain bike ride as the other two options had been road rides. I woke up silly early after a bad nights sleep to snow. Lots and lots of snow, although not as much as our tuesday powder day in the Bolton Alps. A plan was made and I set out a little later than planned to get to Pigeon Tower for 10:30, the first off-road climb involved some walking at my legs and lungs seemed to have made a pact not to let me push harder. So I sent Simon a text suggesting he rode along Georges Lane to meet me. This worked well and after some brief discussion we headed through the woods as a walker had said they were pretty. Stunning should have been the word.

Then it was time to climb, back up to Georges Lane before up onto Winter Hill, well it was bound to have the deepest snow! Halfway up we stopped for a snowball fight and to build a snowman. I think my snowman buliding skills need some work!

Last bit of the climb was on tarmac and strangely gritted down the middle, no use for cars but perfect for a tired singlespeeder! Top of Winter Hill and we stopped to admire the view, or lack of one there was no visability!

Setting out down Simon kindly went first and showed me the crash sites. It was hard to pick a line and there were some nice snow holes that were big enough to swallow a trio whole!

At Belmont we tried for chips in the pub but it was closed so I had chocolate from the shop. Up the road, which felt like being off-road since it was snow covered. Before getting back over to Pigeon Tower, here we were chatted up by the local oddity - I blame Simon!

Down the descent to the fishing cafe since Simon didn't know it and back over towards Wilderswood before splitting. I was lazy and went home via Barrow Bridge.

It all seems to be melting already but I will be getting the cross bike out for commuting tomorrow just in case.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

A curry in Manchester

No idea what is happening I seem to have turned into a social animal. Tonight it was out in Manchester for a curry with Greg, Odile, Pauline and Ali. Odile arrived later than the rest of us and asked for a small beer, that is exactly what she got!

Great evening, good food and even better company! Made up for missing Hit the North earlier in the day since I was working, although I did ride over afterwards and enjoyed the chatting to people afterwards.

Friday, 19 February 2010

A Winter Wonderland

Today I was working and the venue had been changed to Rivington, for me this is perfect I have a lovely commute and I know the trails so well.  I got up this morning just as Ali was going to bed, maybe she has got herself onto vancouver time? She had kindly got my bike up and done some of the fiddly cleaning that I never get round to so he looked pleased with himself. I set off and noticed that the roads were icy, I was glad to get off-road but now I had snow. Wasn't sure we would be doing much riding with the kids today. Changed my route to take in the descent we had used last week. Not a chance there was lots of ice on it!

At lower barn I met the others and it turned out that we had a small group in the morning. When they turned up I knew I had met my match, one of the lads didn't stop talking! We headed off up to the Pike, having a snowball fight at Pigeon Tower on the way. A great achievement on the climbing front with all the snow.

Lunch at lower barn and we found out the afternoon group wouldn't be coming. So all that was left was for me to ride home. My legs were stuggling by now, I need to get some hill fitness back into them. The snow had melted on parts now and the roads were thankfully ice-free.

A lovely sunny day on the hills and hard to remember at times that I was working!

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Photos in the Peaks

So yesterday I woke up to grey misty skies. Still a photoshoot had been planned so I headed off to the Peak District will Ali in tow hoping that the weather there would be nicer. It wasn't really although the odd time we could see the sun on hills in the distance. Amazingly I somehow managed to get everything packed and we were out the door at the planned time. Arriving at Hayfield to meet Rich, Jumbly and Kate at the planned time. Kate had turned up with her bivvy kit but none of the rest of us really fancied a night out on the moors. Rich loaded himself up with camera gear and we were off!

There is no easy way out of Hayfield so we started with a hard climb. My heart rate was soon through the roof, my lungs hurting and I was wondering why I had brought the singlespeed (oh yes he had been sulking due to lack of use!) Soon we hit the snowline, although now it was more like frozen slush. I tried to learn how to ride on it - uphill stay sat down, downhill scream as much as possible! But soon we were all pushing.

resting between reps
Originally uploaded by Good Hank

First big photo session involved us climbing a hill, Rich set his flash and camera up, I set off. Nowhere near as high as the flash and I toppled over still clipped in, hmm. The others got further but none of us were making the flash, so he moved it lower down the climb. By this point determined Ali had come out to play and while the rest of us were happy to give the climb a miss she kept going, eventually making the top. A little tired after all the attempts though.

Originally uploaded by qwertyphoto

Next major photo shoot inolved dead defying riding along an edge, although Ali asked me to stop, it was scaring her too much just watching me. So we moved on to clearing a huge gap, ok maybe not even 12inches at its widest but it looked huge and once over it there was a matter of a 50foot drop on the other side. Ali and Jumbly both decided not to ride it and instead catch me and Kate before we plummeted down. Think I prefered riding it!

Originally uploaded by Good Hank

Then it was time for the all important cake! In the cafe a decision was made to get the train back to New Mills and ride back to Hayfield. Lots of relieved looking faces that we didn't have to climb back over the tops again.

Somehow we just got back before dark, changes of clothes, cups of tea and it was time to head home. A good days riding with some great people.

Thanks to Rich and Kate for the photos, I didn't bother bringing my camera as I knew they would take much better pictures!

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Just fitted a run in

I'd like to run at least once a week this year. It had got today and I hadn't ran this week. After a day spent on the sofa watching the winter olympics the thought of getting dressed and out in the cold was not attractive. But I knew I had to do it otherwise I would spend the next week beating myself up! So I headed out. Nothing worked, legs hurt, breathing seemed laboured, I was slow. But after 2.5 miles of plodding I was back and I have still ran every week this year!

I now have done more exercise in February than the whole of January. January really was a bit of a disaster!

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Socialising by bike

Last night just after getting home from work I got a text from someone I work with inviting me out for a curry as he was celebrating. I usually ignore anything like this and bascially only socialise if it involves a bike ride. But for some reason I started thinking about it! He is really nice and I really like his company. I text back asking if many would be there and he said at the moment three. So I decided to go for it!

After 35miles commuting I decided not to ride there so put on my skinny jeans, ideal for cycling in, and headed off to Bolton station. I decided to wear my cycling shoes as I am still not 100% confident of riding fixed not clipped in, especially after a couple of pints! The train arrived and was packed, but I had to get it as otherwise I would be late! I stood there with my bike vertical but not stopping at Salford Crescent meant we were in Manchester in 20minutes. I got off at Oxford Road since I was probably in everyone elses way. The all that was left was the 3miles out to Levenshulme, my friend saw me arrive and came out to meet me (which made it loads easier).

A brilliant evening followed, great food, a couple of drinks and amazing company. There were ten of us in total including another three I know and like from work. After the meal I even went to the pub! I left at midnight and decided just to ride all the way home. It was a lovely ride and when I got home I was buzzing.

Can't remember the last time I went out but I had a great night.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

I needed reminding

Today I was working over at Rivington and after finding out I didn't have to be there till 12noon I had plans to run in the morning then head over. Well after a bad nights sleep and waking up with no motivation the run didn't happen. But I still had to ride over to Rivington so I set out at 11am. Up onto Winter Hill, the sun was out and I remembered how much I enjoyed this. My poor mountain bikes have been feeling neglected this year. Riding through the trees on the way to lower barn everything felt right.

Then it was a few hours of skills and a ride. The group were great, no moaning on the climbs and we made it all the way to the Pike. I was in charge of the route down, since I know the area so well. Some good descending from the group meant I could set a good pace!

Time to head home and I was tired and climbing up to Georges Lane was slow. But once there I made the decision to head on up to the top of Winter Hill.

The sun was beginning to set and for the first time in years I wished I had a proper camera with me. Still my phone almost captured it.

Off down the Belmont Descent, wow this is fun, oh my legs hurt I want to sit down. I no longer have the strenght for 5minute descents. I was glad to get to the road and spin home.

It's been a poor start to the year mountain bike wise. Must make more of an effort as it is fun!

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

An afternoon of bikes and cake

Yesterday I headed into Manchester to meet Emma to go window shopping for bikes. She has decided to get a mountain bike. Seeing as she lives in the Peak District this is an excellent idea!

Originally Jumbly was going to join us but she wasn't feeling great. Turns out that was a good thing for me as once I got on the bike my legs started hurting so a shorter route there was no bad thing! I had thought they were fine from the 80mile trip to get cips yesterday. By the time I got to Manchester I had decided to get the train home!

Once I met Emma we headed to Harry Hall to try Spesh and Trek out - the spesh was too long. Then onto Evans where we tried a Kona and got excellent service. I know others have had issues but everytime I go there they are lovely!

After that it was time for cake and hot chocolate. Well it is an essential part of any bike shopping trip! before heading up to the station, which was packed. But the first bit of anxiety I had all day so pretty good going! I hadn't realised till this point what time it was as I was having so much fun!

At the station I had another odd bloke talking to me, something about how he wanted my bike. I moved!

Once home I was so tired I had a bowl of cereal and went to bed. Lovely day, will be repeated when Emma wants to test ride bikes!

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Fixed to the seaside

So today the plan was to ride to the coast for fish&chips and ice-cream with Simon. I has plotted us a route that was a little further than his usual route but I promised it wasn't hilly so it would be fine. At 10am exactly I got to the Co-Op in Adlington (Jumbly will be impressed!) where Simon was riding up and down the road to ensure his bike worked! We set out and the weather seemed to be trying to impress us as the sun came out. The ride over was lovely and there was only one navigation error when I took us down the wrong road, but its good to practice U-turns! Although the one long downhill was terrifying, Simon shot off past me and I was completely out of control. My legs were trying to stop pedalling which made the bike feel odd, I had my brakes on and I was squealing! I have no idea how his legs spin so fast!

Once at Southport it was straight to the chippy, I was suprised to see so many people, guess I normally go during the week, although it has been a while! The sensible decision was made and we ate inside since it was cold. That meant a plate, knife and fork. Although we both forgot them and sat down first!
Eventually we had to drag ourselves back out into the cold. Two extra jackets on for me! Just as we had got all the bits back on the bikes and the lock off I noticed a man looking at the bikes. Well they were pretty! Then he came and stood between me and Simon before starting to talk to Simon. So not just me that odd people seem to flood to. After his life story we managed to escape after 10minutes. Simon blames me but it was definetly him the man was talking to and I barely said a word!

Back onto the Coast road and into the wind! It was nice to get off it in fact. Back the hills didn't seem too bad, although Simon on my shoulder on a downhill shouting spin caused my legs to blow up as I hit the uphill section, that is my excuse for how painfully slow I was getting up it!

Since Simon had said he was too cold for ice-cream at Southport I demanded a stop at freddies on the way back. Two lovely scoops, one of the valentines special and one of Chocolate Monster - well I had to! Before heading back to Adlington, here Simon tried to hug me as we rode along, he had some excuse about turning round to look at the car that was beeping at us.
All that was left was for me to drag myself home, it seemed very hilly and I didn't go over Chorley Old Road as Simon had suggested!

Fab day when can we do it again?

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Taking my own advice

Today I am resting my legs! Having gone from doing hardly any exercise - I never quite got to nothing - to lots! I am always reminding people how rest is one of the most important parts of training. Without the rest you won't recover and improve. But have I been taking my own advice? No my last rest day was over a week ago when I spent the day with my mum. Since then there has been something everyday. Some days it is just commuting and I do take it easy but the shortest day of that was an 18mile round trip. Today I was planning on doing the park run and then rushing off to work. I decided yesterday that this was just a silly idea and so today is going to be a rest day. Yes I will ride to and from work, but at less than two miles each way I think that is fine! The rest of the day is going to spent doing basically nothing. My legs are sore they will appreciate it! Then tomorrow I have a plan that involves bikes, chips and ice-cream!

Friday, 5 February 2010

Puppy Power

I was working out in Didsbury today and my friend kate tried to persuade me out for a ride, but I decided to be kind of sensible - I did commute by bike - and say no. I woke up to a text asking if I would at least come round to see her and hugo (her puppy), how could I say no? So it was a nice couple of hours walking round the park and then playing with the puppy, perfect.

Left to ride home and had to stop and take a couple of layers off, down to just a base layer and a thin windproof. It felt so warm compared to what it has been like!

Puppy Power

I was working out in Didsbury today and my friend kate tried to persuade me out for a ride, but I decided to be kind of sensible - I did commute by bike - and say no. I woke up to a text asking if I would at least come round to see her and hugo (her puppy), how could I say no? So it was a nice couple of hours walking round the park and then playing with the puppy, perfect.

Left to ride home and had to stop and take a couple of layers off, down to just a base layer and a thin windproof. It felt so warm compared to what it has been like!

Thursday, 4 February 2010

A long run

Since Jumbly was away on monday and I went cross riding instead of our usual fixie chicks ride we arranged to meet today. Since she is following a training plan for her marathon I suggested we could run, as long as it wasn't too long and wasn't too fast. She wanted a 90minute run which sounded fine. So I headed out on my bike, stopped off for a couple of errands and got there just after 10am. On the way there I got a new maximum speed on the fixed bike of 27mph, apparently a cadence of 137.7rpm!

After a bit of faffing we headed out with flipper for a nice muddy run, not too hilly which is good for me as I am rubbish both up and down. Jumbly set a nice pace, although I was glad I could hide from the wind behind her on the last bit.

Back to Jumblys and the wonderful Glyn went out and bought us sandwiches. Then a nice afternoon chatting before I rode home. That felt harder with tired legs from the running.

Lovely day, can I do it everyday?

Tuesday, 2 February 2010


When the snow went it left huge holes all over the roads, they are everywhere. At first it was okay I was able to avoid them, even some little hops over them. But then I started riding fixed, what now? I am sure there are amazing riders out there who can bunnyhop fixed but I am only just coping with the keeping pedalling. The first one attacked me last wednesday on the way home from work, pinch flat on the rear. Since then I have been more aware of these monsters waiting for me. But today I was spinning downhill, my legs a blur and I see one waiting for me, a glance over my right shoulder and I see a truck. Decision time, pothole or the truck. I take the pothole, clunk! A couple of metres, dare I think it, a couple more, I think I got away with it, a couple more, oh the steering is gone the front tyre is flat. Wheel off new tube, CO2 back on my way to work, having to work hard now to limit the lateness.

So what do I do about these evil puncture fiends?

Monday, 1 February 2010

A bike for everything

A chance email about maybe riding over at Marple or Disley today from a group I used to nightride with got me interested. Jumbly is away so no fixie chick ride this week. It was billed as an easy social ride so I came up with a plan. I would take the cross bike and ride there, do the ride and then get a train home (my legs are sore from trying to do loads after relative inactivity). I was a little late leaving, I really need to work on this, and even working hard any hills were imposible and I was a little late. Still Anna and Jane didn't seem bothered and we set off along the canal. After that I am not sure where we went, at times I knew where I was at times I had no idea. On one lovely bit of singletrack, still feeling nervous after no recent off-road activity, I let a bump scare me, manage to unclip then tumble off the side, forward rolling with my bike. Jane heard my screams, the braken braking my fall and then me laughing. A bang to the knee which didn't really hurt was all the damage, it is looking a little grazed and bruised now though. So back on the bike and tried to remind myself I could ride. Once around Linnett Clough I recognised it and we took in a nice rocky descent, a new drop-in thanks to Jane, which felt vertical on my drops, and then lots of careful line choices meant I didn't pinch flat! Back to Marple and Anna kindly treated me to Chocolate cake.

Feeling good I decided to ride to Stockport make a decision on the train, then Manchester and oh somehow I rode all the way home. So 100km on the Garmin, longest ride of the year, first metric century. Mainly on the road, but the cross bike is ideal for rides like this, the road would have been a killer on a mountain bike.

Bike is even washed, shame I have another three that need doing!