Friday, 28 May 2010

Sometimes the timing just works

I've managed to have a really easy week this week, getting the train monday and tuesday. Cycling in but not home on wednesday, getting a lift in but cycling home thursday and finally ride in today and then train home. I had a shopping list for when I finished work today and thought I would make the 6pm train from Victoria which takes me all the way home. Only I didn't realise I would be finishing work late. Expecting to get a Bolton train I got my shopping on Deansgate and then headed to Salford Crescent - all the Bolton trains pass through here. As it happens I arrived at the same time as the Clitheroe train to mine, a quick run along the plateform, squeeze my bike on and I was home an hour after leaving the last shop!

Evening spent packing wondering what I have got myself in for, at least I have lots of food.

Monday, 24 May 2010


It wasn't an ideal build up to this race as I started working full-time on monday, this also meant my taper didn't really happen and I rode for 8.5 hours although I did try and take it easy but the odd sprint to get to the front of the group still happened. On thursday night I changed the tyres on rigger and tried to put the rear wheel back on. It was now a quick release after Cooksons had changed the drop-outs on wednesday evening. Only it didn't work? My fault for only taking the wheel in and not the bike! I had to push hard to get it in and then when it was tight it just didn't pedal forward, yet the wheel went backwards. I really thought I was being dumb! All this meant I had to ride to work on friday, at least it was only 8miles. Ali then went to Cooksons at lunch, they dropped everything to look at it but were not 100% sure what is going on they thought that was the wrong time to play about and put the old bolts back on, leaving the quick release to be sorted after the race. Once this had been done I got a text from Ali, she had taken the afternoon off to sort everything and try and get Mel the mini's air-con fixed (this failed which made the trip up to Scotland very hot). She also said she could collect me, which saved my legs the uphill ride home. Ali being off and me being in a school meant we were on the road before 6pm and even with a long stop at tesco we arrived at the Campsite with lots of daylight. This meant stressy trio stayed hidden away. As we were driving in the velocake called out to us and we got a spot for our tent with them.  I even got to register on the friday night and annoy lots of people with my talking! Once it got dark I headed to bed, not that I could sleep but at least I was resting!

It was light nice and early on saturday and I could hear movement on the campsite but I was staying curled up in my sleeping bag as long as possible. Once I got up I did my usual walking round in a daze till Ali fed me porridge for breakfast. Everyone else seemed to be in race kit but I was in my pink PJ's. Ali got my old Garmin attached to the bike with the charger in my feed bag on the top-tube (the new replacement one having crashed and died!) I had a little panic and got food bags ready and discussed with Ali what I needed her to have ready - she had been really organised and got a whiteboard to keep everything organised.

Before I knew it we were at racer briefing and then riding down to Newcastleton for the sign-on and start. It was quite exciting being called up to sign on the board like the pro-racers on tv.
The start wasn't as bad as I had expected and the road back up to the course was very rideable. I chatted my way up with Jane who eventually finished in 3rd on her lovely Superfly100. At this point it still felt like going out for a ride with some friends - well new friends. Jac was just behind us, the other female singlespeeder who we were camped with.

Lap 1 I was taking it easy but felt like I was really flowing in the descents, at this point thanks must go out to the pump track at lee quarry! Climbing up a fireroad halfway round I look down to see front quick release undone, opps wonder when that happened? I had wondered on the descent if my headset was lose, no just the wheel! Lap 2 it was getting hotter, I was being sensible and walking more hills, but still feeling like it was easy, probably going too slow. Lap 3 and I'd had enough, I couldn't believe I was battling myself to carry on. Everyone said I had the right mental attitude for this, that is my strong point in endurance stuff usually. I was walking when I could ride as 'I couldn't be bothered'. Remembering Kate's advice that if I wanted to stop do one more lap I headed out. Didn't work, I was practically walking descents on this lap I was so not in the mood! I came in and told Ali that was me done, I was stopping, my head had gone. I was going to wait till it cooled down and go to bed. She was worried about me, my head was apparently really hot and the last thing she had expected was me to be wanting to stop so early. So stop I did, she fed me fluids and got me a chicken, cheese and salsa wrap from the caterers and got me to sit in the shade. A bit before 8pm she put me on my bike and made me go out again. I was not a happy trio - did she not understand I had pulled out, loads of others had it wasn't just me? On that lap I started debating how many laps I would do (before the event I had been thinking 14 was probably the best I could aim at from the distance of the course but without riding the actual course it was hard to say). I was thinking 10 was a good number, well over the magic 100miles, but it would be another 5laps after finishing that one. Went out again and decided that I was happy with 9, 10 was the aim and 11 would be fantastic. I now had an aim! But I still was thinking of stopping in the night to sleep. Each lap it got better and 10 was seeming possible, eventually I worked out I would get 12 done if I kept lapping as I was till the end. A bottle of vimto on the 10th lap - where I kept finding myself riding with my eyes shut - some riding chatting to Jac, and I felt on fire. I think it was the magic vimto (maybe they should sponser me ;-) ) I was flying up hills on lap 11, thinking I put a good couple of laps in and I may just manage 13! A change of clothes and instructions to Ali and I was back out on the course.

More magic vimto-juice and I was feeling good but it was getting hotter and I was finding it harder again, still I was determined! Out on the last lap and knowing I needed to back before midday I thought that was easy. But the heat was slowing me down, I was beginning to worry I would be sprinting. But no I crossed the line at about 11:45am 5th in the open womens (I was first female singlespeeder but there was no category for us).

 A bit of wandering round, remember to let Joolze take my after picture and I was off to get changed and watch the prize-giving. All that was left was pretend to help Ali pack up and head home.

In the end I was really pleased, yes I stopped but I have never dealt well in heat. I managed a lot longer than I would have expected. I was never in race mode really and I suspect that sub-consiously I was aware of working on monday and actually having to ride. Hopefully next time I will be able to have the day off and then my brain will let me go for it, or maybe it was one of those days that pushing doesn't happen. But my legs and stomach behaved so that was good.

I really couldn't have done it without Ali and her magic whiteboard. She was there everytime I came in, kept an eye on my food and fluid intake and most importantly got me back out on the course when I had given up!

Other imporant people were of course the boys at Cooksons, they really did everything to make sure I was ready - although I didn't need the horror stories! The velocake lot that we camped with, meant Ali had company and help when I came in demanding things! Oh and of course Grant who had a fantastic race himself and who provided the suspension forks for rigger. My hands were in pieces at the end, I can't imagine what they would have been like if I had rode rigid!

Will I do it again? Yes of course, I think I would love to do it on a nice fast geared bike as well! But that doesn't

hard - hot - head

That was so Hard!

It was way too Hot!

My Head nearly let me down, the one thing I wasn't worried about!

More to come when my hands and brain are functioning again.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010


So far its been going well. This was yesterday waiting for a group to arrive.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Riding out of Manchester

Working as a freelancer some blocks you don't work with people and other blocks you see them everyday. The last block I have hardly been with any of my friends so Phil and I arranged to meet up for a ride. The plan being meet at the office, ride out into the hills, back to his, food and then home for me. It was a bit of a later start to the ride as I manage to lose loads of time and leave late for the office. But once there we headed off, weaving through the rush hour traffic out of Manchester and towards Ashton.

From there we headed through Stalybridge and out to Broadbottom. Then the real climbing started. Up monks road.

I hardly ever ride in the hills now as most of my miles are commuting so I was pleasently suprised to be pulling away from Phil slightly, he is a good hill climber. I think dragging kiwi around has helped!

At the top it was time to descend into Hayfield and stop for a pint. A text to Rich and the next thing we know we are at his house eating curry. Lovely. Leaving at twenty to eleven it was going to a late night. At 1am, 30miles later I got home and straight to bed. Tired but happy after a great evening. Adventures can happen even when they are not planned!


Look what came in the post. It was a little warm to pull them up to full knee-length glory but my feet loved them!

Friday, 14 May 2010


So what is that on the bike? Yes its suspension forks. Them and a bigger rear cog were put on the bike today at cooksons. An evening ride with Odile and I had to remind myself that suspension forks did not mean that I could ride anything as I nearly overshot a corner. I did get down a set of steps (with some screaming though). Now time for lots of rest!

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Hobble Hobble

When will I learn? My bike needed to be dropped off at Cooksons for tuesday, I was home to late on monday to get it there, Ali had the car tuesday. So I decided to run home. I was actually really pleased with my pacing. I was aiming for 10min/miles and basically managed that. I was reasonably consistent over the run, a little slower on the climbs, a little faster downhill. At no time was I was working too hard. I always felt there was more to give.

Wednesday morning though I was hobbling down the stairs at 5am, unable to sleep. It felt like my knees. I iced them in front of the tv and hobbled round getting my mountain bike stuff ready for working. It was fine on the bike. By lunch I realised it was my quads that were sore. Knees were fine, phew!

Still a little sore today, certainly wasn't ideal in the two weeks before 24solo (eek!) but was good to run again.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Just a quick one

I start a new job on monday, its full-time, mountain bike leader. Excited and scared in equal measures. At least I know everyone, been freelancing with them for a while.

Friday, 7 May 2010

The miles add up

Today I had lots of errands to run, first it was down to Cooksons Cycles to get them to have a look at trek, as expected it needs too much doing. Back home again and there was just time for a quick lunch before heading out for a hospital appointment. Heading down Crompton Way I saw the strangest sight, a young deer racing all over the road. It looked terrified. I have to assume there are deer in Seven Acres Park but I am suprised. Onto Bury Road and straight into a headwind, not good. I was on the drops working as hard as I had at the time trial the other week only I was barely moving. In fact I only just got to Fairfield hospital in time. The way home was a lot easier, although you never notice the wind when it is a tail wind!

Then it was time for a short mtb ride. Odile had just picked up her bike with new forks so wanted a ride but was on a time-limit. Ali was tired but wanted some mtb miles so we set out to the golf course. Some playing on trails I normally run, great singletrack here I should do it more often. Some riding down steep slopes.

Then an attempt to get back up by me.

A cheeky ride through Jumbles with some new lines taken then back home via last drop village. 10miles on the GPS.

40miles in total for the day!

Thursday, 6 May 2010

A solo bivvy

A lot has changed since I started this blog. Back then I was just starting to train for transwales 2008, going from a weekend warrior. I had only recently started riding off-road on my own having said that I never would. Well last night was another first for me I went bivvying on my own. I've always been too scared to, but slowly with more bivvying experience I decided I wanted to give it a go. So last night I left the house at about 6pm with Ali in tow, she accompanied me to Bury then headed off on her own ride (this is all part of her training for Wales at the end of the month, I think she'll be towing me round). On the way I stopped for supplies for the evening, pork pies, crisps, chocolate, sweets and Philadelpia light and bread sticks (why I thought this was a good snack I don't know, its a bit low on calories). I was soon on Rooley Moor road and already feeling slow and a little tired. Maybe not the best start.

At the top I did some of the trails through Cragg quarry and then enjoyed the descent to Waterfoot. After that it was time for thousands of gates which on my own took so long. In fact at times I was wondering why I kept getting back on my bike to ride. By now it was dark. But I needed to keep going. I had a stop at the Mary Townley Stone and at this point I was beginning to feel good.

I was aiming to get up to Long Causeway and once crossing it find somewhere to bivvy there. I now was happy I would get that far. One long push up and it was back on my bike and feeling like I was descending fast. Probably more to do with the fact it was dark than I was fast. Onto Gorple Road, I saw the Pennine Bridleway North heading off one to explore at another time, and it was time to make my bed for the night. It was so dark and I wasn't expecting to see anyone else up there so I just wanted 50m off the path and tried to find a flat patch to put my bed out on.

A text to Ali to let her know where I was and it was time for my pork pies, she rang then to say she had managed 30miles and say goodnight and then I hunkered down. After half an hour I had to take a layer off, I had actually overdressed! Then I got to sleep, waking as it got light. I dozed for a while and at about 6am I decided I should have breakfast. As well as my cereal I had a belgian waffle that I had picked up earlier, one to remembered as it was lovely. I packed everything up and headed off. About a km later I saw the perfect bivvy spot, ahh well mine was fine.

On the way back there seemed to be baby sheep everywhere. Some of them can only have been a few days only. I got some looks off them, obviously I was a new creature to them. I was realising at this point that at the speed I was travelling (slow I was at about 9km/h including stops) I wasn't going to be home in time. So once I reached Summit I dropped on the road and headed home via Litterborough and Rochdale from there.

Lots of things sorted in my head for the end of May now. First Solo bivvy done and has made me want to plan the next adventure!

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Practise bivvy trip

Since Ali and I are off to Wales at the end of May for the Welsh Ride Thing I thought it was a good idea to get out and bivvy. Ali wasn't keen saying it was meant to rain, I thought that we really should try it in the rain. To be fair she also has been ill so maybe she was being sensible! So I spent saturday planning, I had an idea we would get a train somewhere and ride home. This only worked with a long ride in the morning or bivvying in Blackburn - not really what we wanted. So I looked nearer to home. Then Ali came up with a fantastic plan, we would go to Barocco's for dinner and then head out onto the moors for the night.

We set out and just 200m from the house I noticed Ali had forgotten something.... her rucksack! So it was back to the house so she didn't freeze overnight with no spare layers. Then it was a quick stop at Asda for essentials, cookies and jelly babies, before heading up the hill. Since we were on a ride it was of course three courses each and it would have been rude not to have wine (are we taking this bivvying lark seriously?) Once we had finished Ali was talking about rolling down the hill to her nice warm bed, but I was insistent it would be fun to sleep outside. So off we set.

It was still light at this point and I was having fun so I suggested that maybe we rode a little further, Ali agreed as long as it was in daylight. Well maybe I thought it got dark a little later than 9:30pm. But we were both still smiling and it did show us that we have to be careful where we put Ali's light if it is going to be any use with her sleeping stuff strapped on the front of her bike. Although the speed she did the descent through tockholes I don't think she needs a light! Up onto Great Hill and I suggested that we should try sleeping in trees, both of us a little scared of the shadows. So we found a nice spot, sheltered by a wall from the noisy and blustery wind and got our sleeping kit out.

All curled up in our bags we drifted off to sleep with the wind howling above us. Waking up the next morning to lambs calling to us across the wall, baaa! As Ali slept on I ate my breakfast and then waited and waited and waited. At half six I was informed that breakfast time was 7am and to shush! Eventually she did emerge to try eating her cereal with powdered milk - I don't think she enjoyed it ;-) In that case she is carrying her own milk in Wales!

So we packed up and got ready to go, just as we got on our bikes a dog walker came past, good timing! So it was back up onto Great Hill. Then time to take layers off, I was wearing all of mine at that point! We dropped down towards White Coppice, Ali had a few steering issues at the start with the ruts but once she was on the technical descent she was flying.

At the bottom she was in heaven, baby sheeps all the way along the track, I had to wait quite a while at the gate as she was busy talking to them. Along Healey Nab Lane and over to Rivington. I then said something like "Lets go up Wilderswood its the easiest way" which it obviously wasn't as we tried to ride up a vertical wall, or maybe it just felt like that to me!

All that was left then was to get home, Ali said no to the Belmont Descent (I was secretly pleased I didn't have to climb up Winter Hill), so it was home via Barrow Bridge. Not quite the 20miles for day 2 I wanted, but not far off and we had done a lot more on saturday evening than planned.